Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Yesterday, I shared a recipe that I told you “Looked like Christmas.” Well, this one SMELLS like Christmas. Cranberry Upside Down Cake baking in the oven fills my kitchen with the heavenly scent of berries, cinnamon and orange. This beauty would be a perfect pairing with pumpkin or apple pie. The cranberry glaze adds a bit of tartness to this moist cake, so if you like you could serve some homemade whipped cream on the side. I happen to like the tartness just the way it is.
Cranberry Upside Down4a

Looks aren’t everything, but this cake is gorgeous. The cranberries in their glaze deepen to the perfect ruby-red, dripping with the promise of intense flavor. And boy, does it deliver! Upside down cakes are appealing to me because they look like a lot of work, but never are. As the fruit bakes into the cake, it caramelizes the edges for a pretty picture that tastes just right. Serve cranberry upside down cake at a fancy affair, or for a weekend coffee cake option.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A super flavorful and festive cake with cranberries, orange zest, cinnamon and ginger. This is a bit on the tart side so offer whipped cream on the side if you're so inclined.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8
  • Topping
  • ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup or ½ stick) unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • Cake
  • 1¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Scant pinch ground cloves
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened plus more for buttering the pan
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon orange juice from fresh orange
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • ¼ cup of milk
  • Special equipment
  • 9-inch cake pan with at least 2-inch high sides. If you're pan is more shallow than this, just leave out about ¾ cup batter.
  • Cook's note: I like the orange zest to really show up in the cake, so I grate as much as I can with a cheese grater and then finish the rest in a zester.
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.*
  2. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch diameter cake pan with 3" sides. (If using a spring form pan or other size cake pan, see notes below.)
  3. In a small saucepan, place the ¼ cup of butter and the ¾ cups of packed brown sugar. On medium high heat, stir the sugar as the butter melts. Once the butter is melted and mixed in well with the sugar, stop stirring and let the mixture simmer for 15 seconds or so.
  4. Pour the brown sugar butter mixture into the prepared cake pan. Spread the cranberries on top of the sugar-butter mixture.
  5. In a medium bowl vigorously whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.
  6. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until light. Add the sugar and beat together the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in the orange zest and orange juice.
  7. Mix a third of the dry ingredients into the mixture. Beat in half of the sour cream. Mix in another third of the dry ingredients. Mix in the remaining sour cream. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients and then the milk.
  8. Pour batter over the cranberries in the cake pan, and smooth the surface. Bake until a tester comes out clean, 55 minutes to an hour. Cool cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a blunt knife around the inside rim of the cake pan to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Then turn the cake out onto a platter.
  9. *Preheating and baking temperatures for this recipe are for a light colored pan. If you are using a dark colored non-stick pan, decrease temperature by 25 degrees, and check cake after baking for approximately 45 minutes.
  10. Note regarding spring form pan: If you want, you can bake this in a spring form pan, however, the butter/brown sugar will start to seep out the seam of the pan so either wrap in foil before baking or place a baking sheet under the pan to catch any leaks.
  11. If you're using a pan that's smaller or more shallow than the 9-inch pan with 3" sides, pour enough batter to leave at least 1" in the pan to allow for the batter to rise and discard the rest.

Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes.

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