Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

The cranberry madness continues. I have been wanting to try this recipe for cranberry upside-down cake for over a year. I don’t have much experience with upside-down cakes, I’m not even sure that I have ever eaten one. I don’t know if my inexperience was keeping me from trying it or if other cranberry recipes had been more aggressive in their fight for my attention. In any case, I am sorry I waited! This is delicious!

A tender, moist cake topped with the tart, caramelized cranberries—what more could we ask for? The recipe said that the cake is best the day it is served, but I thought it was equally delicious on the second and third days…it didn’t last any longer than that so who knows? If you are like me and have never made an upside-down cake, the moment when you flip it out of the pan and reveal the ruby red topping is really thrilling.

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake (Adapted from Alice Waters)

  • 1 1/2 stick (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 3/4 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In an 8-inch cast-iron skillet (***see note), cook 4 tablespoons butter and brown sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the butter melts and starts to bubble. Remove pan from the heat and allow to cool.

In a small saucepan, cook the cranberries and orange juice until the cranberries just start to pop. Remove from the heat and pour evenly over the cooled caramel.

In a medium bowl add the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine.

In a bowl or stand mixer beat the remaining 8 tablespoons butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the two egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in vanilla extract. When mixed well. add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, starting and ending with one third of the flour. Stir just until the flour is incorporated. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Fold one third of the egg whites into the batter and then gently fold in the rest.

Pour the batter over the cranberries in the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a serving plate.

***I don’t have an 8-inch cast iron skillet, so I melted the butter and brown sugar in a regular skillet and then poured it into an 8-inch cake pan and continued with the recipe from there. It worked perfectly.

15 comments to “Cranberry Upside-Down Cake”

  1. I LOVE upside down cake recipes. I made several different kinds all summer but this looks like a wonderful version for fall! And SO beautiful!!

  2. Fantastic idea. I’ve been looking for more recipes to try with cranberries. Take the berry beyond the sauce!

  3. I’ve been eying this recipe for a while, but now I have to make it. I wonder if replacing some OJ with lime and/or adding lime zest would be nice. For some reason, I’ve had cranberry-lime in my head.

  4. I think lime would be really good. That then leads me to wonder if it might also be nice to add a little cornmeal to the cake? could be interesting. Let me know!

  5. That looks amazing! Do you have any leftovers?

  6. This looks so good. My sister and I are making this for our Thanksgiving dinner.

  7. Oh, yay Thanksgiving dinner! Let me know how it goes…

  8. Jarrod M Lampier says:

    November 29th, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    I just made this and it’s fantastic! I was even able to get a piece for myself after the kids helped themselves.

  9. Jarrod, so glad it worked well for you too! Thanks for letting us know…

  10. This recipe works better in a glass pan. It allows the sugar and cranberries to caramelize better than an iron skillet. Give it a try!

  11. Ohhh! Myyyy!

  12. in the oven now says:

    December 8th, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    can’t wait to try this

  13. Just finished scraping the crumbs off the plate of my first slice. How delightful. I used whole wheat pastry flour, and lime instead of orange juice, and almond milk for the whole milk and it is fantastic! Thanks for the inspiration, happy cranberry season. :)

  14. I made this today and it was AMAZING! This will definitely become a holiday favorite.
    The only change I made was adding the zest of one orange into the cake batter. Next time I may try 3/4c sugar in the cake batter, just to take down the sweetness a bit.
    Thanks so much for posting :-)

  15. This was sooooo good! I just had my first slice with vanilla ice cream and loved every bite. It was the perfect balance of sweet, tart and buttery flavors. Thanks!

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