Caramelized Citrus Upside Down Skillet Cake


If you told me last week I'd be living out of boxes, with my in-laws, on my 27th birthday I would've laughed in your face. Which brings me to this cake. A few days ago in my mother-in-law's kitchen, I threw together this Caramelized Citrus Upside Down Skillet Cake. Although more of a biscuit than cake consistency, it's a truly rustic, no frills about it concoction that we all ended up eating alongside our Sunday morning breakfast. 

After questioning if I would post the recipe at all, I realized this cake is sort of the perfect metaphor for our lives right now. If you're looking for something pristine, and perfectly symmetrical- this perhaps is not the cake for you, but I find it rather beautiful in all its imperfection. 

Maybe I should start at the beginning. Just under two weeks ago I was taking pictures and soaking up rays in Puerto Rico, and a few hours into the night that I got back, our picturesque little house was broken into, our laptops stolen while we all slept upstairs. A relatively small incident for city dwellers, who know this kind of stuff happens all the time. Still, there was a person in our house while were sleeping, and regardless of how you're supposed to react to these situations, we were shook.  

But then it wore off for a minute, and that first night after it was back to business as usual. We got really drunk, watched Lethal Weapon 4 (because nothing gives you a sense of calm quite like watching Riggs & Murtagh fight Jet Li underwater), and started the process of improving the overall security of the place. I distracted myself making Dark Chocolate + Lavender Sea Salt Pudding for Better Happier, and though still anxious and overly analytical of sounds we heard creaking in the night, we decided the house, neighborhood, and situation was 100% fine. Things happen.

They say lightning doesn't strike the same place twice, and before now I had no reason to disagree.

As the weekend came to a close, the same intruders came back. This time a full blown robbery, and ransacking of the house occurred, while Robert watched on a live feed from our security camera. The details I will not go into, but will emphasize the most important part- we were all, bird dog included, completely unharmed during both of the incidents. 


In the hazy aftermath that followed, we quickly realized we were targeted, and that the house simply didn't feel like our home anymore, or particularly safe. The first intrusion was disheartening, but the second was aggressive in a way we couldn't ignore.

With the recent conversation still ringing in our ears of- should we buy around here? it was like we had set the stage for the universe to swoop in and tell us that maaaaybe it wasn't the right fit. I've been told a time or two that the saying "everything happens for a reason" is utter bullshit. But alas, I am a firm believer in the sentiment, especially now. 

I didn't fully appreciate just how important it is to have family close by until we were in a trying, and unanticipated situation like this. Feeling bewildered, and needing to react fairly quickly, it gave us the freedom to GTFO when our immediate reaction was just that. And so, the broken-in door was nailed shut, and we left. We had a bridge between us and our home (literally, a bridge) which allowed us to ease into the conversation over which steps made the most sense to take next. 

Our roller coaster of a week reiterated to me how little it matters where we live, as long as we're together. This could be our perfect excuse to buy a house elsewhere and explore a #betterhappierrehab project? Who knows. All I know is I feel incredibly grateful for the perspective I gained this past week, the thoughtful conversations, and immediate support we received from all sides. 

Since I am uncertain when this space will be back to a state of somewhat normal, leaving you with an upside down cake for the time being seems sort of perfect.

Cheers to turning 27, and still eating cake for breakfast.

Caramelized Citrus Upside Down skillet cake


3-4 meyer lemons, peeled and sliced thin
2-3 satsuma oranges, peeled and sliced thin 
1 cup cane sugar
1/2 cup coconut sugar (cane or light brown sugar works as well)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1⁄2 cups Gluten-Free 1-1 flour, (I love Bob's for this)
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs, at room temp
1/2 cup  milk

  • Preheat the oven to 375°. 
  • For the biscuit batter, mix together the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.
  • Whisk in the canola oil, followed by the eggs, adding one at a time. 
  • Stir in the milk to form a dense batter. The dough will feel quite biscuity. You can finish by pressing the mixture together with your hands until the dough forms if it works better. 
  • Meanwhile, prepare a 9" cast iron skillet over medium heat, and place the citrus slices evenly across the bottom. 
  • Pour the sugar across the skillet, followed by the butter, and swirl the pan to help melt, distributing evenly as you go.
  • Remove from heat once melted and bubbly, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Top the skillet with the biscuit dough as evenly as you can, dropping dollops of dough across the top, and evening out with a spatula or spoon as you go. It doesn't have to be perfect! 
  • Bake for 30 minutes, until the sides have pulled away from the skillet a bit and the top is a golden brown.
  • Set aside to cool for 15-20 minutes.
  • Run a spatula around the sides of the skillet to help release the citrus bits, and carefully flip the cake onto a plate to serve.