Upside Down Caramelized Lemon Cake

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Seriously, Ottolenghi is one of the most inspiring chefs out there. Every time I look at one of his recipes, I’m drawn in and love the unique twist and combination of ingredients.

But sometimes I find his recipes a bit fussy and complex- and let’s be honest- few people have the patience and time for that. And even when I do have the time, baking a cake doesn’t need to be a stressful procedure of many detailed steps needing many pans and utensils (all the cleaning- yuck!). So consider this an abbreviated, yet equally delicious, cake. The key is knowing when to take shortcuts, and when to take the time on a method. 

Oh, and with about half of the original sugar (and no one even knew).

Upside Down Caramelized Lemon Cake
Adapted from Ottolenghi

  • 4 lemons, sliced thinly + zest of 1 lemon (for cake batter- see below)

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 1 3/4 cup ap flour (225g)

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small cubes (cut first and then let sit)

  • Zest of 1 lemon

  • 3 eggs + 1 egg yolk (3/4 cup worth)

  • vanilla extract (1/2 teaspoon)

  • 3/4 cup packed (165g) light brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup whole milk

  • optional: heavy whipping cream for homemade whip cream

Preheat oven to 325. Slice lemons (with peel) very, very thinly- as thin as you can- I got about 15 slices out of one lemon.

Place a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add in lemon slices onto an even layer (no oil) and cook until brown/charred, about 1-2 minutes each side. Repeat in batches. Set aside.


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Line a 8’’ cast iron skillet with parchment paper. Line the top with lemon slices (see picture). They will layer on top of each other a bit, so don’t worry about making it perfect or one layer- the lemons are the best part of the cake! Pour maple syrup on top of lemons.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and sea salt. Stir to combine. Using a standing mixer or electric hand mixer, mix in butter, lemon zest, eggs, vanilla extract, whole milk, and light brown sugar. Beat until smooth, about one minute. 

Pour mixture over lemon slices (see pic below). Place skillet in oven until brown on top and a knife comes out cleanly, about 55-60 minutes. Let cool slightly before attempting to remove.

Flip cake over onto a baking rack. Let cool. Serve with whip cream.


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