This cake is another example of substituting maple syrup for any recipe that calls for making caramel. I saw this recipe in Better Homes and Gardens (February, 2017) and immediately decided it had a higher calling with maple. Essentially you make an orange cake batter and cook it in a pool of sliced oranges and caramel. It is then inverted with the oranges now embedded in the cake a la Pineapple Upside Down Cake.
Using maple in place of the plain old sugar takes the orange flavor to another level. The whole cake turns out less sweet than you may expect so I put it in the Tea Cake category; something more for an afternoon snack than an after-dinner dessert.
Maple Orange Tea Cake
¾ cup butter, softened
1 ¼ cup sugar
4 tsp orange zest
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
½ cup cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup Sugarmaker’s Cut Maple Syrup
2 medium sized oranges sliced very thinly
Preheat oven to 350 °F.
In a large bowl or standing mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Add orange zest and vanilla.
In a small bowl stir the flour, cornmeal and baking powder together. Have the cup of milk ready and then add the flour mixture and milk alternately to the batter.
Heat a 12 inch skillet with fluted edges, preferably cast-iron. Add the third cup of butter and maple syrup. Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat. Place the sliced oranges in the syrup in an overlapping arrangement. (The slices can overlap quite a bit since the cake will separate them a little when it rises.) Turn the heat back on and let the oranges simmer in the syrup for about five minutes. Gently pour the batter over the oranges and place the pan in the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a fork poked in the middle comes out clean.
Take the pan out of the oven and let cool for just a minute. Find a plate that fits over the pan and invert the cake onto the plate, taking care not to burn yourself with the pan or the syrup. Replace any stray slices of orange and scrape any excess syrup back onto the cake. Serve warm or room temperature.