Cranberry Upside Down Cake

by Pamela

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

An upside down cake for the holidays – cranberry upside down cake. This slightly sweet and tangy cake is perfect with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Cranberries are a big part of the holiday season. With their pretty red color and tart taste people are putting them into more and more recipes. This cranberry upside down cake is sweet and tart at the same time and makes a beautiful centerpiece for your holiday table.

This recipe comes from Alice Waters cookbook,  New American Traditions; In A Berkeley Kitchen, A Celebration Of Simplicity. I made a slight change to it by replacing the orange juice with frozen orange juice concentrate. I did this because I always have oj concentrate on hand in my freezer. I find it’s a great addition to lots of recipes and it’s so convenient to keep around. Once you open the can, simply dump the rest into a zip top bag and keep in your freezer. Anytime you need to add a bit of citrus zing to a recipe you have it available.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

But back to this cake…

This cranberry upside down cake does require a little bit more work than your traditional upside down cake because you need to whip the egg whites separate from the rest of the ingredients. By doing this you get a much lighter cake than you would expect from a traditional upside down cake.

Like its pineapple counterpart, the cranberries are encased in brown sugar which gets nice and caramelized. While there’s no cherries to top off this cake, it is highly recommended to whip up some fresh whipped cream to top of this sweet tart beauty. I didn’t do that with this one because I was taking it to cake club and there wouldn’t be room on the table for the cream. (Considering there were 12 cakes at our meeting I don’t think anyone missed the topping.) But I highly recommend making some.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
An upside down cake for the holidays - cranberry upside down cake. This slightly sweet and tangy cake is perfect with a dollop of whipped cream on top.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12
  • For the Topping
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into single tablespoon amounts
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 9 ounces (2⅔ cups) fresh cranberries
  • ¼ cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • For the Batter
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To make the topping: Put butter and brown sugar in a 9 inch round cake pan, and put it in the oven. As the sugar dissolves, stir to make sure the mixture is evenly spread over the pan. When the sugar starts to caramelize, remove pan from the oven and allow to cool slightly. You'll know the sugar is starting to caramelize because it will turn a slightly darker shade of brown and you'll be able to smell it.
  3. In a small bowl, combine cranberries and orange juice concentrate. Toss to coat berries well. Spread the berries evenly in the pan with the caramelized brown sugar, and pour any remaining juice into the pan. Set pan aside, and prepare the cake batter.
  4. To make the batter: In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  5. Using a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light, fluffy and pale yellow (about 3 minutes). Add vanilla, and beat in egg yolks one at a time, scraping bowl once or twice. Add flour mixture alternately with milk, ending with dry ingredients. Set batter aside.
  6. Using electric mixer, whisk egg whites with cream of tartar until whites are stiff enough to hold a slight peak. Fold whites into batter ⅓ at a time. Spoon batter into pan with the cranberries, and spread it evenly over cranberries.
  7. Bake until top is browned, cake pulls away slightly from edges of pan and toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Let cake cool for 15 minutes before turning onto cake plate.
When you insert the toothpick, you'll pull out pieces of the cranberry and brown sugar. You just want to make sure that there is no cake batter on the toothpick. The cook time may be longer than the 35 minutes before you get a clean toothpick.



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John/Kitchen Riffs November 23, 2016 at 10:21 am

That frozen OJ concentrate idea is a good one — I’m going to steal that! Anyway, love the looks and idea of this cake. Cranberries are wonderful, and most of us don’t use them enough. This is a winner — thanks. And Happy Thanksgiving!

Pamela November 23, 2016 at 6:29 pm

Hi John, steal away. I learned that hack a long time ago and use it a lot. Happy Thanksgiving!

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