Cranberry Upside Down Cake with Ricotta Cream

Cranberry Upside Down Cake with Ricotta Cream is a variation on a Cranberry Cake I posted a few years ago. We love this cake and recently I tweeked it a little to add more intense flavor to the cranberries with a red currant jelly glaze as well as a nice topping that’s a bit more unique than whipping cream or ice cream.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake with Ricotta Cream

Adding the jelly glaze and ricotta cream are inspired by a recipe from baking savant, Maida Heater. Let’s talk about adding your jelly glaze first. Crosse & Blackwell Red Currant Jelly is excellent, but you could use any fruit jelly or jam, really, like raspberry or even strawberry for a sweeter glaze. Try orange marmalade for the classic orange and cranberry combination.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake with Ricotta Cream

Also mentioned in Maida’s recipe is the option to add Ricotta Cream as a “bland” pairing to the cranberries. I’ve wondered about the ricotta option for quite sometime now but thought I’d try and step it up a bit from bland to something that is unique and complimentary. So, this year I experimented and came up with this version that’s not too sweet but adds something very different from the norm. The combination of maple syrup, cinnamon, and citrus zest give just enough of a wake up flavor to the creamy ricotta. I recommend making it the day before serving, because the flavors meld together and increase over time.

Ricotta Cream

Serve the cream on top of the cake or off to the side for guests who like their dessert tart, because the ricotta cream is fabulous on its own. Try the ricotta cream served with graham crackers or cookies for a festive dip. Add a dollop to your favorite homemade or well-bought granola.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake with Ricotta Cream

The cranberries topped with jelly is a fabulous finish, but let’s not forget about the cake itself. This upscale yellow cake contains the perfect combination of texture and moist flavor. Yogurt or sour cream adds tangy moistness and a mixture of spices- ginger, cinnamon and cloves- are just right with the tart cranberries. This cake is delicious served right out of the oven but if you can make it the day before serving, you’ll love it even more. The cranberries soften overnight and the spices in the cake are more intense, the cake even more moist!

My family loves cranberries so much that I buy a lot, I mean A LOT, of cranberries toward the end of December and freeze them so we can make anything “cranberry” all year long. Psst, cranberries are also incredibly good for you (antioxidants, vitamin C and fiber) and contain the lowest fructose of almost any fruit so add a few to your morning smoothie, too.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake with Ricotta Cream
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8-10
  • ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup or ½ stick) unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 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
  • Ricotta Cream
  • 1 8-oz. container full-fat or part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • Zest from one lemon or orange, plus extra for sprinkling on top
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.*
  2. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9" x 3" round cake pan.
  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. Place in the preheated oven and lower the heat from 350°F to 325°F. 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 (regular silver) 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. Make the Ricotta Cream:
  11. Place all ingredients in a blender or the bowl of a food processor.
  12. Blend until as smooth as you can get it.
  13. Refrigerate for 4 hours before serving. The ricotta cream keeps in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Recipe adapted from Maida Heatter’s Cakes.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake is fabulous topped with a jelly glaze. Ricotta Cream adds a nice balance to the tart cranberries.

Simple Share Buttons