Blood Moon Cake

This recipe started with a routine trip to the grocery store and a happy return with a big bag of blood oranges. I was so excited to make something with them because blood oranges are the kind of ingredient that does the Halloween heavy lifting all by itself…their color and name screams Halloween!  The fun part is deciding what to make. For a moment, I was tempted to go to the Darkside and make something bloody and gory, but instead I went to the Upside…as in Upside-down cake. I began with an idea to make a cake that looked like a total lunar eclipse using slices of blood oranges to mimic the dramatic colors of a Blood Moon. And when I finished…oh boy, did it turn out incredible! It turned out even better than I had imagined and hoped, even my youngest son came into the room while I was reviewing the photos and asked, “Is that a moon?”

This cake isn’t just stunningly gorgeous, it’s a deliciously dreamy combination of orange zest, cinnamon and vanilla which flavors the cake and the simple syrup. Double delicious! One of the best part about making this cake is seeing the variation of color in each orange. From the outside you can’t tell what beauty lies inside until you slice it open. Kind of a sweet metaphor for the people you meet, don’t you think?  Anyway, I’ll leave you with my recipe based edit of a quote by C.Joybell C.

“To [make] a cake…to howl at the moon…to know true happiness…I am happy!”  Enjoy!

Blood Moon Cake

Why wait for the next Blood Moon when you can make your own lunar beauty with this easy Blood Orange Upside-Down Cake.
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Course: Dessert
Keyword: blood oranges, cake, full moon, Halloween, Halloween Food
Servings: 8


  • 1 ⅓ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • cup butter or shortening
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 5-6 blood oranges (zest 3 of the blood oranges)
  • 1 regular orange

Simple Syrup

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • vanilla bean (substitute with 1 tsp vanilla extract)


  • Preheat oven to 350° and prepare 9 inch round cake pan, by spraying with cooking spray. Then cut out a round piece of parchment paper to line the bottom of the pan. Take care to smooth out the parchment paper to remove any air bubbles under the paper. This is important so that a bubble doesn't get created while it bakes, or it'll make for a lopsided cake.
  • Prepare simple syrup: Add sugar, water, cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean in a small saucepan and heat for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.
  • Prepare cake batter: Add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and give it a stir. Add butter or shortening, milk, vanilla extract and egg and beat on high using a hand mixer for about 4 minutes. Zest three oranges and fold into the batter.
  • Starting with your 3 zested oranges, use a knife to remove the peel and much of the white pith as you can because blood orange pith can be quite bitter. Continue to peel enough oranges, including your regular orange, until you have a variation of orange and red to make your blood orange gradient. Slice into ¼ inch thick rounds.
  • Remove cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean from simple syrup. Measure out 1/2 cup of syrup and pour into the bottom of your prepared cake pan.
  • Remember that the best side of each orange will need to be placed face down in your cake pan because down will eventually be the top of the cake, so keep that in mind as you play with placement of your fruit. Begin layering orange slices in a gradient, adding additional oranges to plug in the spaces between oranges, cutting them as needed.
  • Pour batter over oranges, take care to not disturb the oranges if you have to use a spatula to smooth it out, do so gently so the oranges don't shift.
  • Bake in a 350° oven for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Use two hot pads to remove cake from oven and then immediately place a large heat safe plate over the hot cake pan, then pick up both the plate and the pan together and invert to transfer the cake onto the plate. Watch out for the hot syrup, some may leak out. Let the cake pan remain over the cake for a few minutes and then remove it to reveal the fruit top.
  • Let cool for a few minutes and allow the cake to absorb the juices, then serve warm with a scoop of ice cream or at room temperature with a cup of coffee. Enjoy!

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