Cranberry Upside Down Cake

A few times a semester my graduate program holds a potluck during which grad students and faculty get together over good food and wine and then listen to an advanced grad student give a talk on his or her dissertation. Because I commute almost two hours to get to campus, I always try to make a dessert to bring since they tend to travel well and can handle a few hours unrefrigerated.

So far, I haven’t met an upside down cake I didn’t love. I made this cranberry version for last year’s Thanksgiving-themed potluck. I just love the way the tartness of the cranberries offsets the sweetness of the cake. It was a hit with everyone, and I’m excited to see cranberries appear in the supermarket soon so that I can make it again.


Adapted from Smitten Kitchen 


  • unsalted butter or cooking spray
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 12 Tb unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tb unsulphured molasses
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 2-2.5 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Grab a 9-inch round cake pan and grease with butter or cooking spray. be sure to add a piece of parchment paper to the bottom as well to avoid sticking.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, 4Tb butter, molasses, and 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  4. Stir the mixture well and pour into prepared cake pan, setting it aside.
  5. In a large bowl sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  6. Using your electric mixer or a handmixer with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs, sour cream/yogurt until blended.
  7. Add extracts and spices to the bowl.
  8. Scrape down the bowl, add remaining 1/2 cup of butter, and beat until combined
  9. Add flour mix to the bowl and beat until smooth.
  10. Throw the cranberries into the baking pan and softly press the berries into an even layer.
  11. Gently transfer the batter onto the cranberries, using a spatula to press it into the pan without moving the cranberries
  12. Bake on the center rack for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. As always, follow your notes and check early!
  13. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes
  14. Run a butter knife around the edge of the cake.
  15. Grab a plate larger than the cake pan, set it atop the pan, and then in a swift move flip the pan over to release the cake.
  16. Remove the parchment paper and enjoy!


This entry was published on September 27, 2014 at 11:43 am. It’s filed under dessert and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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