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Coconut Citrus Upside-Down Cake

I’ve been brainstorming ways to bake with grapefruit and kept coming back to the idea of an upside-down cake. It’s the perfect way to balance out the tartness.

I’ve been dreaming of this cake for weeks. Is that weird?

I’m a huge fan of citrus season. Grapefruit is by far my favorite fruit and I love eating it plain for breakfast or with a little honey when I get a craving for something sweet.

I’ve been brainstorming ways to bake with grapefruit and kept coming back to the idea of an upside-down cake. It’s the perfect way to balance out the tartness of the fruit. And how beautiful is this?! It’s amazing to see the end result when it’s so simple to put together.

I threw in some orange and lemon to make the cake more colorful and was so happy with the end result. If you’re not a fan of grapefruit, you can easily add more lemons or oranges instead.

I topped this beauty with some freshly-whipped cream and toasted coconut. It’s the perfect combination of flavors! And there’s something about the bright colors that makes me feel like warmer weather is just around the corner. Here’s hoping!

Coconut Citrus Upside-Down Cake


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large grapefruit; peeled, sliced and seeded
  • 1 blood orange, peeled and sliced
  • 1 lemon; peeled, sliced and seeded
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Juice of 1 blood orange
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter over medium heat in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Add brown sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until sugar is melted, about two minutes. Make sure the mixture evenly coats the bottom of the pan.
  3. Remove skillet from heat and arrange grapefruit, orange and lemon slices to cover the entire bottom of the skillet.
  4. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, vanilla and orange juice. Set aside.
  6. In the bowl of a large electric mixer, combine coconut oil and sugar. Beat on high until light and fluffy, about four minutes. Add egg and beat until combined.
  7. Pour half of the flour mixture into the coconut oil mixture, beating until just combined. Add milk mixture and beat until just combined. Then add remaining flour mixture and beat until combined.
  8. Pour batter into the skillet over sliced citrus, using a metal spatula to spread it evenly over all of the fruit.
  9. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the top of the cake is golden brown. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before carefully inverting the cake onto a plate.
  10. While cake cools, toast coconut by placing it in a small pan over medium heat. Stir the coconut often and remove from heat once it turns golden brown, about five minutes.
  11. Using the highest speed of an electric mixer, beat whipping cream until stiff. Top cake with whipped cream and toasted coconut before serving.

Modified from Damaris Phillips’ Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.

Barbara Brosher

Barbara Brosher is the Senior News Editor at WTIU/WFIU and blogger at She's passionate about good storytelling and good food. Barbara believes in hoppy beers, long bike rides and extravagant cakes.

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