Welcome the Year of the Rat with this Mandarin Orange Upside Down Cake

Credit: Gerald Lee

I just love the festive mood that’s in the air every time my family and relatives gather in the house and have their ‘makan’ or ‘mahjong’ session every Chinese New Year.

Of course, the celebration won’t be complete without the lots of scrumptious food and cookies for us to savour, especially mandarin oranges. Since mandarin oranges are in season this time of year, why not make some mandarin orange upside down cake for the family. Definitely something different.

For best results and a sweeter cake, I use the small-sized mandarin oranges because they are much sweeter and they are seedless too. Anyways, ready to make this delicious cake? Let’s go!


a) Cake Batter

  • 260g butter, melted and cooled
  • 250g brown sugar
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 200g cake flour or plain flour, sifted
  • 200g almond meal
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • A pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons of buttermilk
  • 4 petite size mandarin oranges, zest and juice

b) Syrup

  • 6 petite size  mandarin oranges, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of castor sugar
  • 1 cup of water


a) Syrup

  1. Place all the ingredients except for the orange slices into a pot and bring them to a boil. After cooking for 10 minutes, add in the orange slices and cook for 10 more minutes.
  2. Remove the orange slices and set aside. Continue to reduce the liquid until it becomes a sticky syrup.  Remove from the heat and set aside.  Do not refrigerate.

b) Cake

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Line an 8-inch cake pan with a sheet of baking paper and drizzle in a few tablespoons of the syrup. Neatly arrange the mandarin orange slices along the base of the tin. Note: Do not use a spring form cake pan as I find the cake takes a longer time to bake hence the cake looks more darker.
  3. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks are formed.
  4. In another bowl, mix together the butter, brown sugar and egg yolks. Gently stir in the flour, almond meal, baking powder, cinnamon and buttermilk.
  5. Add the mandarin orange zest and juice. Do not over-mix.
  6. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the egg whites.
  7. Gently spoon the cake batter into the prepared tin making sure the orange slices is not moved. Bake for 60 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  8. Once baked, cool the cake in the tin for 10-15 minutes before removing from cake tin. Place the cake upside down onto a plate and remove the baking paper.  Brush more orange syrup on the mandarin orange spice at the top of the cake.

It’s a tropical New Year!

I just can imagine how tart and sweet the cake is with the citrus-y aroma that will just envelope your senses. Just delicious! ‘Huat’ and ‘Ong’ is not far away with this cake.

For any inquiries or even a little chat about delicious desserts, just slide into my Instagram DM at @justinescakesandkueh. Don’t forget to follow me and Butterkicap for more feel-good recipes and comforting heritage food that you can try and make on your own!

Justine Lim

With love for the freshest and natural ingredients, Justine Lim aspires to recreate heritage Malaysian recipes into modern, elegant-looking delicacies. Catch more of her delicious creations on her Instagram profile, @justinescakesnkueh

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