How to make Charlie Hibbert’s orange and almond upside-down cake

A delicious dessert with a Mediterranean twist, Charlie's upside-down cake uses olive oil and orange in place of the pineapple you remember from childhood.

The delightful Thyme has been creating a stir in Gloucestershire for a while now. It earned a spot in our list of spa destinations around Britain, while our sister magazine, The Week, called it ‘The Cotswolds, Perfected’ in a review a couple of years ago.

As well as the almost absurdly picture-perfect buildings, rooms and setting, the quality of the food has been a big part of the success. Head chef Charlie Hibbert happens to be the son of the owner, but he’s earned his spot here having worked previously at Quo Vadis in London to learn his craft. And he’s shared with us this lovely recipe from his kitchens that blends a nostalgic favourite with a few surprise twists.

Recipe: Orange, olive oil and almost upside-down cake

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 4 free range eggs
  • 300g + an extra 50g golden caster sugar
  • 250g whole blanched almonds
  • 120g plain flour
  • 180ml olive oil (you can use light or extra virgin – extra virgin gives a more distinctive flavour)

For the syrup

  • 2 oranges (ideally blood oranges, when they’re in season – if not, use good quality normal oranges any time)
  • 100g golden caster sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C (normal) | 160°C (fan) | gas mark 4 and line a 24cm / 9” cake tin with parchment paper.

For the cake, beat the eggs and 300g sugar until light, fluffy and doubled in volume – 10 minutes should do it.  Grind the almonds in a food processor until fine.  Grinding your own almonds gives better texture to the cake as opposed to shop-bought ground almonds.

Sift the flour into the egg mixture and fold together along with the almonds with a spoon (if you use the mixer, you’ll bash out all the air).  Fold through the olive oil to finish the cake batter.

Slice one of the oranges very thinly with a sharp knife and line the base of the cake tin in circular rings.  Scatter over the other 50g of the caster sugar for the cake, then fill the tin with the batter.

Bake in the oven for 1 hour.  Check the cake with a skewer or tip of a paring knife; if it comes out clean the cake is ready.  Allow the cake to cool in the tin before turning out.

For the syrup, combine the juice of the remaining orange with 100g of caster sugar.  Bring it to a boil over a medium heat then turn off the heat.  Turn the cake out carefully onto a large plate, removing the parchment, and gently pour over the syrup.

Serve with plenty of whipped cream.