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Cast Iron Hibiscus & Clementine Olive Oil Cake

adapted from smitten kitchen by berlin reed

· cooking,Berlin Reed,recipes

Based on a yogurt cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen, I have been tweaking and playing with this recipe for nearly 10 years. It is easily the most forgiving cake I’ve encountered, making it perfect for working with what you have on hand. I have switched out the flours and used different dairy/non-dairy products. I’ve topped it with compotes and glazes, cut the sugar, and swapped the original lime for other citrus. I’ve even done this as a naked breakfast cake for a hippie preschool! It is always stunning in texture and delicious. Now, stuck in the house in a baking frenzy like the rest of the internet, I have tried it as an upsidedown cake, with equally stellar results.

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As far as the toppings, I almost always do this as a citrus-forward affair, but over the years I have also served it with a red wine berry compote, thyme-roasted blueberries, and a fresh strawberry and basil salad. That’s not to mention the homemade ice creams, chantillys, toasted almonds and other topping choices. This is one of those “just a little slice as I’m passing by” cakes. The flavours will meld and deepen as it sits on your counter, for as long as it lasts there uneaten. Every time I make it, I start planning for the next one.

Do yourself the biggest favour, and put this cake into your repertoire. It has been a little jewel in my tattered book. It is a great confidence booster for novice bakers and an unmatched canvas for pros who enjoy building flavour profiles.

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3 clementines, thinly sliced

Hibiscus Syrup

The hibiscus reduction could be replaced with a simple layer of brown sugar and a few pats of butter if you are short on time, ingredients, or patience.


¼ c dried hibiscus flowers

1 ½ c maple syrup

Juice of 2 blood oranges

1 c water

Bring to a boil in small pot and reduce at a simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until syrup has thickened.

Line the bottom of a 10-12” cast iron skillet with parchment, grease sides with olive oil or butter. Drizzle syrup, then arrange clementine slices as desired. Set aside.


Preheat oven to 350℉.

Whip in medium bowl:

1 c plain yogurt - a thick yogurt or labneh gives great structure, but any will do.

⅓ c extra virgin olive oil

½ c cane sugar

Beat in:


2 eggs

Juice of 2-3 clementines

Zest of 1-2 clementines

Set yogurt mixture aside.

Then, in large mixing bowl, combine:

1 ⅔ c all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

⅛ tsp salt

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Add yogurt mixture to dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Depending on the moisture content in your yogurt choice, you may need to add a bit of milk to attain a pourable batter. Resulting batter should be thick, but easy to pour and spread in the pan.

Slowly pour batter over clementine slices and gently even out with the back of a spoon, making sure the batter touches the entire circumference of the pan. Carefully pick the cast iron up a bit and drop the skillet a few times to remove any air pockets. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Run knife around the edge then flip onto cake plate. Remove the pan very slowly starting at one side and taking care that the cake is removed in one piece. Once free from the pan, remove the layer of parchment from the top of the cake. Serve warm or room temp.

For right side up version: Simply pour cake batter into an oiled pan - I’m partial to a loaf pan for this guy - and bake until top is golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. This should take about 35 minutes. Run knife around the edges then poke holes in cake top with a fork or toothpick. Glaze with hibiscus syrup while hot. Allow to cool. Serve with clementine slices.