This recipe was the result of being held prisoner by snow and ice with my two children for five days. (We made three cakes that week.) The cake batter is based on a recipe from my trusty 1964 Joy of Cooking. The oranges, cardamom, and upside-downness were my idea. Orange blossom water is the perfect accent for the oranges and cardamom. Sweet and floral, but not aggressively so. This cake is the warm sun in January. —Southern Fried Curry
Grease a ten-inch cake pan. (Don't use a pan with removable sides: It will leak hot sugary butter all over your oven, and smoke you out of your home. Yes, I learned this the hard way.)
Melt the butter in a small saucepan on medium heat, then add the brown sugar and stir for a few minutes until the brown sugar is completely combined and melted.
Remove the pan from the heat, and add the orange blossom water. Set aside.
Drain the mandarin oranges of their liquid and, starting in the center, arrange the orange slices in a circular pattern on the bottom of the cake pan.
Pour the butter/brown sugar mixture over the orange slices and gently spread it evenly over the bottom of the pan, taking care not to disturb the orange slices.
The cake batter
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl mix together the flour, brown sugar, and cardamom. Then add the butter, eggs, milk, salt, baking powder, and vanilla, and mix thoroughly.
Pour the batter over the orange slices, and gently spread it evenly over the entire cake pan.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes or until the cake is done in the center.
Let the cake cool for a few minutes, then with a table knife loosen the sides from the pan if necessary.
Then place a plate under the bottom of the cake pan. Place another plate on top of the cake pan. Carefully flip the cake upside down while holding it between the two plates. Lift the plate that is now on top off the cake. Then lift up the upside down cake pan. The pan should slide off easily, and the oranges should now be on top of the cake.
Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Or eat it for breakfast with your morning coffee.