Screwdriver Cake – Orange-Vodka Polenta Cake

by cakeduchess on February 28, 2011 · 54 comments


Starting a Monday with a nice Screwdriver just sounds right to me. A little vodka and orange juice reminds me that spring is around the corner. What am I talking about, winter is spring in South Florida.

For the rest of the real world, I know that spring is on the way! This gorgeous cake full of sunshine and with the right amount of vodka and orange juice will remind you of warmer days around the corner.
Days when you can wear your plaid Bermuda shorts and flip-flops. Hot sunny days when you can drive around in your convertible and let the wind whip through your soft curls or your stick straight extensions. A little reggae music on your satellite radio. It just feel good!


Upside-down cakes seems to be my thing. I make them with every fruit and I think it’s all because of the caramel. I adore polenta. I could eat it every day. I also love baking with cornmeal! I love it in my galette dough or in cookies. Especially in cakes! Especially when it is combined with olive oil. It is so Italian and it is just so right! A combination of orange juice and vodka give this cake just the right kick. The spectacular color of the oranges and a light dusting of powdered sugar…so fancy and you didn’t even have to break a sweat to make it. Beating the egg whites separately and folding them in at the end make the cake a little bit fluffier. The cornmeal is pretty dense so you need the extra bit of lightness.


Screwdriver Cake-Caramelized Orange Olive Oil Cake

2/3 cup plain yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 vodka (if you don’t like to use alcohol, you could use a 1/2 cup total orange juice)
1/4 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
2-3 small oranges sliced about 1/8 inch thick

Caramel ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter


Preheat oven to 350 F. Rinse and dry your oranges. Cut the ends off of the oranges and slice the rest of the oranges about 1/8 inch thick. Take out all the seeds.
Combine 3/4 cup sugar and 4 tablespoons of water in a 8-inch cast-iron or oven proof skillet on medium heat. Swirl the water the around so that the water combines in the sugar. Stir constantly until it turns golden brown and starts to caramelize. As soon as it changes color, remove from the heat and add the 3 tablespoons butter. Let it melt and swirl it around to combine. It should look like this:
Arrange the sliced oranges in a concentric patter on top of the caramel. Set the pan aside.
In a small bowl, add the orange juice and vodka. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
DSCN6163 In another medium sized bowl, beat the egg whites until they are soft with fluffy peaks. Set aside the beaten egg whites.
In a clean bowl of a mixer, beat the sugar with the olive oil until combined (about 1 minute).
On medium speed, beat in the egg yolks one at a time until combined. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture. Add 1/2 of the vodka/orange juice and beat for about a minute. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture. Stop the mixer and with a spatula, scrape down the sides of your pan to combine all the flour mixture. Add the rest of the vodka mixture and beat for about a minute. Add the rest of the flour mixture and the 3 tablespoons of sour cream (or Greek yogurt).
Stop the mixer and fold in the egg whites gently until combined and you don’t see any more white streaks.
Spoon the batter on top the caramelized orange mixture. Even out the top of the batter with a spatula. Bake about 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. After the cake has cooled for about 10 minutes, run a knife around the sides of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Place your serving plate on top of cake upside down. Carefully and quickly invert the pan onto your serving plate. Make sure you hold the handle of the pan with an oven mitt because the handle will still be scorching hot. Replace any oranges to the top of the cake that maybe came off when you flipped it.
Enjoy with a hot cup of tea or coffee! I think since it’s almost spring, a nice scoop of vanilla ice-cream will go very well with this happy cake!
Happy Monday to you! Thank you for stopping by todaySmile.

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

A SPICY PERSPECTIVE February 28, 2011 at 2:07 pm

You know, you don’t have to rub it in about the warm weather in FL! ;)

This is a brilliant idea for a cake. Add a little booze to dessert and I’m all in!


The Mistress of Spices February 28, 2011 at 2:09 pm

I’m so jealous of the warm weather in South Florida! What a genius idea to do a screwdriver cake, and an upside-down cake at that!


Elizabeth Ann (Elizabeth Ann's Recipe Box February 28, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Oh wow. . . umm. . . this is RIGHT up my alley! ;-)


Lindsay @Eat, Knit, Grow February 28, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Yum! That looks delicious! I love corn meal cakes, and with vodka! awesome!


Sandra February 28, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Your cake make me smile..looks so delicious, moist, cheerful and not because Vodka:))
Have a wonderful day dear!


Carolyn February 28, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I love the originality here, Lora. Fantastic combo of flavours in a cake, I never would have thought of actually adding vodka to it, but why the heck not???


Eileen February 28, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Lora, your cake looks so moist and delicious. Great pics too! Thanks for reminding me spring will soon be here. We had got a foot of snow here in NY on Friday :(


Chow and Chatter February 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm

love this can I feature it on a FL citrus growers blog

rebeccasubbiah at yahoo dot com


foodwanderings February 28, 2011 at 3:27 pm

geez your caramelization is always so brilliant. Love that you made a polenta one, I was thinking of making a semolina one now for a long time. Great job as aleays Lora.


notyet100 February 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm

drooling,..cake looks so delicious


Feast on the Cheap February 28, 2011 at 3:45 pm

It’s never too early for a Screwdriver ;) Looks absolutely heavenly!


Pretend Chef February 28, 2011 at 3:53 pm

This cake looks so delicious! A Screwdriver inspired cake? I’m sold. That is novel. Haha! Yummy!


ravienomnoms February 28, 2011 at 4:05 pm

What a cool idea! So creative! I would never have though about this but it suuuure does look good!


Angela@RecipesFromMyMom February 28, 2011 at 4:08 pm

I love a little alcohol in my dessert so this is definitely something I will make. Reminds me of my rum cake shooters that were inspired by the Beachcomber cocktail. Let the weekend state of mind continue right into Monday!


Roxan February 28, 2011 at 4:25 pm

This reminds me of a cake I made last year that’s really similar to yours. I remember covering the cast iron skillet with thin orange slices, expecting to see a layer of oranges when i flipped the cake after baking… but all the oranges shrank! I need to re-make that cake with twice as many oranges.


BonnieBanters February 28, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Now you’re talking…booze and oranges! Everyone knows how I love oranges in recipes. Being the sweet freak I am, this is another great recipe to enjoy w/that afternoon cup of coffee or tea (especially w/the girls, or in this case w/a screwdriver!). Also, a great company dish!


Wilde in the Kitchen February 28, 2011 at 6:22 pm

This cake looks so pretty! I’m ready for spring, no more snow!


Our Eyes Eat First February 28, 2011 at 6:45 pm

youve def made me miss miami! looks yum.. im partial to grapefruit.. wonder how that would work…


Michael Toa February 28, 2011 at 7:11 pm

I read vodka on the title and I know this will be good! :)
The cake looks wonderful.


A Thought For Food February 28, 2011 at 7:29 pm

It’s been a while since I had a screwdriver… but I know for a fact that it’d taste wonderful on a polenta cake. A wonderful, bright dessert, Lora! Thanks for sharing!


Georgia (The Comfort of Cooking) February 28, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Lora, I love the bright citrus flavors and especially the olive oil that you used in this very “springy” and sunshiney cake! It’s so cheerful and begging me to reach my fork right through my screen, haha! I hope you’re beginning to feel better and that you get back to baking beautiful creations like this more often! All my best…


Susi February 28, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Great looking citrus cake that is a little out of the box! It’s been a long time that I had a screwdriver, but I could certainly be convinced to have a few slices of this sunshine cake :o)


kita February 28, 2011 at 9:43 pm

With a name like screwdriver cake, Im going to need seconds. :D This looks delicious!!


Claire Gallam February 28, 2011 at 9:49 pm

A screwdriver cake, you are fabulous! This looks like something I need in my life STAT!


Sandra February 28, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Vodka and sunshine, what an awesome combination. It looks refreshing, light and very moist. Your description pulled us all in.


Pauline February 28, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Looks nothing like a screwdriver, far too pretty! love it.


Lana February 28, 2011 at 10:55 pm

LOL! Husband and I just decided to take it easy on calories (I am not concerned, but he cannot do it on his own:), and I encounter your post:) Vodka, oranges, polenta? A combo of dreams. But we have a couple of girls that need fattening:)
I love your first photo, the plate is a beaut!


Raina February 28, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Beautiful cake! I could use a little slice of sunshine and this would brighten my day for sure:)


Lizzy February 28, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Those caramelized oranges are fabulous! What a beautiful garnish on a wonderful citrus cake…just lovely~


Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels March 1, 2011 at 12:19 am

Wow what a beautiful cake, I love the slices of oranges! This is such a creative cake, I would have never of thought of making something like this. Pure genius! :) And I would so eat the cake since the oranges are sliced. ;)


kathy March 1, 2011 at 1:21 am

You are really amazing with all your cakes… and right on target for me since my sister in law brought a huge bag of oranges from FL, she stopped in VA on her way home to NY… long drive


Happy When Not Hungry March 1, 2011 at 1:28 am

Wow what a creative recipe! This cake looks delicious! This would be perfect for a weekend brunch. Yum!


Jennifer March 1, 2011 at 2:47 am

This cake looks amazing. I love screwdrivers, so I’m sure i’ll love them in cake form. And I too am a huge fan of Tito’s vodka. It should be a tequila, but I’m thrilled it’s a vodka.


baking.serendipity March 1, 2011 at 3:09 am

Winter is summer here in Phoenix too. It definitely wouldn’t stop me from enjoying a slice of this cake :) It looks beautiful and delicious with the oranges on top!


Susie Bee on Maui March 1, 2011 at 4:22 am

Mmmm, sounds so good. I bet it would be pretty with blood oranges.


Cookin' Canuck March 1, 2011 at 4:48 am

Ah, screwdrivers. This reminds me of my college years, but in a MUCH more sophisticated way. Really pretty dessert, Lora!


Kate @ March 1, 2011 at 4:53 am

Holy yumminess, this looks fantastic! I love everything that is in there… thank you for sharing this recipe!


Pacheco Patty March 1, 2011 at 5:32 am

Very pretty cake, love the color;-). I love a cake that reminds me of summer!


Medeja March 1, 2011 at 11:28 am

Screwdriver cake! With vodka! Sounds and looks very delicious :)


Elin March 1, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Lora…what a wonderful cake…screwdriver cake ! haha first time I am hearing this…cool with vodka and oranges…sound delicious . Thanks for sharing this recipe and take care and have a nice day :)


Reeni March 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Cut me off a slab of your beautiful cake – I’m ready for breakfast! This is stunning and so delicious looking! I must make a polenta cake soon, I have been seeing them everywhere.


Stephanie March 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Okay, I’m coming over to your house right now. See you in 5! :-p Lora, these look amazing! Put liquor in anything, especially a dessert, and I’m so there! Tee-hee! Cheers, dear friend!


briarrose March 1, 2011 at 3:55 pm

What a wonderful way to start the week….I’m thinking this would also be a good way to close out the week. ;) You can never have too much cake..ehehehe.


EatLiveRun March 1, 2011 at 5:31 pm

I don’t have a good history with screwdrivers, but this cake is intriguing me! ;) Love!


Toby March 1, 2011 at 11:27 pm

As always, your cakes and pastries make me gain 20 lbs….

I love the polenta version of the cake!


sara @ CaffeIna March 2, 2011 at 12:06 am

I’m in love with this polenta cake. And it really reminds of sunny days! We are having some sun here too, finally. Sure I can’t complain about the snow but I still look forward some more stable warm temperatures. i can have a slice or two of this cake in the meantime :)


SMITH BITES March 2, 2011 at 3:35 am

dear gawd – this is my died-and-gone-to-heaven cake!!!


Jamie March 2, 2011 at 9:10 am

Oooh sweetie, this cake has everything I have been wanting to bake with: orange, olive oil and cornmeal. How stunningly gorgeous is this cake? Wow! A slice please? It is really a fab mixture of Italy and Florida, isn’t it?


Lael Hazan @educatedpalate March 2, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Love it! I can eat my drink :)


Tiffany March 2, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Everything about this cake just makes me want to sing! :D LOL. Great job!


claire March 2, 2011 at 10:49 pm

vodka and cake… my two weaknesses! :)

i am hosting a link up centered around fish- if you have any recipes feel free to add!


Magic of Spice March 2, 2011 at 11:20 pm

My kind of cake for sure…looks scrumptious :) And being in Southern California we do not get much of a Winter either :)


veggietestkitchen March 4, 2011 at 4:33 am

This looks like a wonderful recipe. I’m bookmarking it for later! Cheers.


Jessica @ How Sweet March 5, 2011 at 2:39 pm

This cake sounds absolutely divine!


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