Orange Cake “Sottosopra”
sliced, blanched almonds
sweet oranges, such as Cara Cara or Temple
freshly squeezed orange juice
plus 2 additional tablespoons granulated sugar
light brown sugar
unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ c
unbleached, all-purpose flour
instant polenta or fine cornmeal
pure vanilla extract
pure almond extract
Sottosopra literally translates to “under-over,” and this cake is my way of giving the American classic traditionally made with pineapple a sunny citrus twist. Oranges are available year-round, but the peak season from autumn to early winter is always the best time to find more uncommon varieties available at the market. I must admit, rosy-pink Cara Caras are my favorites, but Temple or Valencia work well too.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the almonds in one layer on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until they are light golden brown and aromatic. Allow the almonds to cool completely, then grind them finely in a food processor.
- Grate the zest from one of the oranges and set the zest aside. Peel all the oranges and cut them crosswise into thin, circular slices, taking care to keep the segments intact.
- To make the topping, place the orange juice and zest in a small saucepan and stir in 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar, the light brown sugar and the Triple Sec, and set the pan over low heat, stirring to combine the ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the unsalted butter.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, polenta salt, and baking powder.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the remaining ¾ cup of sugar until the mixture is creamy and light, about 1 minute. Beat in the egg and egg yolk, followed by the vanilla and almond extracts, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
- Beat in the dry ingredients and the almonds, followed by the milk.
- Grease a 9-by-2 inch heavy round cake pan lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with a circle of parchment and lightly spray the parchment. Pour the topping mixture into the bottom of the pan, tilting the pan so that the syrup covers the entire bottom surface.
- Arrange the orange slices on top of the syrup, overlapping them slightly to create a concentric circular pattern. Drop the batter in large blobs evenly over the orange slices and use an offset spatula to gently spread it evenly and smoothly across the pan.
- Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cake is evenly golden brown and dry to the touch.
- Remove the cake from the oven and allow it cool for 25 minutes in the pan. Loosen the sides of the cake from the pan with a butter knife and gently invert it onto a serving platter.
- Serve with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream.