Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

T-minus 16 days until Thanksgiving! How is your menu coming along? When I stumbled upon this cake a couple of weeks ago I immediately thought that it would make a great Thanksgiving (or Christmas, if you’re really planning ahead!) dessert; a perfect alternative to the traditional pumpkin and pecan pies. It’s festive and includes traditional flavors, but in a different form. I made a pineapple upside-down cake a couple of summers ago, and absolutely loved it. From the caramelized topping to the moist and buttery cake, I couldn’t wait to experiment with more varieties. The best part? This cake took less than 20 minutes to get into the oven, and uses very little kitchen equipment. This is a weak-in-the-knees cake. Buttery and delicious, topped with sweetly spiced, slightly tart cranberries. The perfect balance of flavors… ’tis the season!

A quick note on the recipe – my cake did stick a little bit on one side when I turned it out of the pan, so I had to push it back together. No biggie. Gives it character (and it tastes just as good!). Just be aware that because of the amount of sugar sitting on the bottom of the cake pan, even with a generous buttering, you could still experience some sticking when you turn the cake out. Embrace the imperfections :)

What are you thinking about serving for Thanksgiving dessert?

One year ago: Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Two years ago: Parmesan Black Pepper Biscotti

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

Yield: 8 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes


1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1¾ cup fresh cranberries
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup milk


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

2. Rub the bottom and sides of an 8-inch cake pan with 2 tablespoons of the unsalted butter (it will be a really thick layer of butter). In a small bowl, stir together ½ cup of the granulated sugar with the cinnamon and allspice. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Arrange the cranberries in a single layer on top of the sugar mixture.

3. Using an electric mixer, cream together the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter and ½ cup of granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, until well combined.

4. Spoon the batter over the cranberries in the pan, and smooth the top. Bake until a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake; invert onto a rimmed platter. Store any leftovers at room temperature.

(Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart)

Share This Post...


110 Responses to “Cranberry Upside-Down Cake”

Comment Pages 1 2
  1. Jen of My Tiny Oven on November 8, 2011 at 12:25 am

    I love cranberries! We had our Thanksgiving last month but I think I am going to make this cake anyway! YUM!


  2. Rachel on November 8, 2011 at 12:39 am

    This recipe sounds awesome! Do you think margarine could be substituted for the butter?


    • Michelle on November 10th, 2011 at 1:25 am

      Hi Rachel, I never cook or bake with margarine, so I couldn’t say for sure. The butter gives it fabulous flavor though, I highly recommend using that.


  3. Kate Koger on November 8, 2011 at 1:01 am

    Slurp…..that’s all I gotta say!!!


  4. Elizabeth on November 8, 2011 at 1:01 am

    Oh wow…I am definitely making this for our Thanksgiving! If I can wait that long. Thank you for sharing, looks absolutely delish.


  5. katie on November 8, 2011 at 1:56 am

    That looks wonderful. I love how jewel like and glossy the cranberries are.


  6. Choc Chip Uru on November 8, 2011 at 3:51 am

    God what a jewel of a cake! Gorgeous :)


  7. CouponClippingCook on November 8, 2011 at 4:20 am

    What a beautiful recipe this is. So perfect for the holidays. Looks delicious.


  8. Sarah, Maison Cupcake on November 8, 2011 at 6:01 am

    Perfect for thanksgiving, I love upside down cakes and just made an orange one. This looks such a great colour.


  9. Amanda Rae on November 8, 2011 at 6:39 am

    I am making a glorious gingerbread pumpkin trifle, and your Chunky Pecan Pie bars!


  10. Laura @ Laura's Sweet Spot! on November 8, 2011 at 7:01 am

    I’ve never made an upside down cake before, maybe i’ll pull one out for Thanksgiving!


  11. Arlene on November 8, 2011 at 7:02 am

    The recipie looks delightful! Always looking for something new and unexpected. Thanks.
    I am making Pumpkin Creme Brulee and Apple Crisp with Caramel Sauce.


  12. Katrina on November 8, 2011 at 7:44 am

    These sounds delightful!


  13. katie @KatieDid on November 8, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Such gorgeous light on that picture of the fresh cranberries. “Embrace the imperfections”… I need to learn to do that with just about every meal I make 😉


  14. Heather (Heather's Dish) on November 8, 2011 at 7:57 am

    this is such a beautiful take on an upside down cake! i love the vibrant color!


  15. Mackenzie@The Caramel Cookie on November 8, 2011 at 9:09 am

    The cake looks so pretty! I love how bright fresh cranberries are!


  16. m lehane on November 8, 2011 at 9:10 am

    This cake looks beautiful. I was planning to make a pineapple upside down cake – now I will add some cranberries to the pineapple to make it look and taste spectacular.


  17. Mal @ The Chic Geek on November 8, 2011 at 10:03 am

    That looks so lovely! I have been trying to think about what to bring for Thanksgiving, I may do an apple cranberry crisp that I recently posted on my blog, but can’t decide!


  18. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel on November 8, 2011 at 11:09 am

    I love cranberries! I’m honestly not sure how I’ve managed to never make one of these.


  19. Rachel @ The Avid Appetite on November 8, 2011 at 11:41 am

    I love this twist on a classic upside down cake! It looks so festive, even for a Christmas party too! Just pinned it for my files :)


  20. Amber, RD on November 8, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    That looks great! It’s nice to have an alternative to the regular Thanksgiving pies. Not that I have anything against pies!


  21. nicole {sweet peony} on November 8, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    this looks fantastic michelle! i couldn’t wait to see the recipe after you shared your beautiful cranberry picture yesterday! i love how it turned out… sounds so good! :)


  22. Jamie (Thrifty Veggie Mama) on November 8, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    This looks so good! Definitely going on my list of possibilities for Thanksgiving dessert.


  23. Kimber on November 8, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Wow, this looks beautiful and scrumptious! What a wonderful treat to welcome winter with! Thanks for sharing!


  24. Paula on November 8, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Lovely, pictures and recipe both. My mom used to make a similar recipe with a cup of flour, a cup of sugar, one egg, and the cranberries – a little tart but delish. Will be trying this come the weekend, with a little ice cream or whipped cream, perhaps!


  25. Sweet and Savvy on November 8, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    How delicious! This is a PERFECT idea for Thanksgiving!


  26. Amanda on November 8, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    This sounds absolutely wonderful! I wonder if it would work well in a cast iron pan?


    • Michelle on November 10th, 2011 at 1:30 am

      Ooh I bet it would!


  27. Jen on November 8, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Ooh, that looks beautiful! This year’s going to be a quiet one at our house, so I’m just making apple pie and some homemade vanilla ice cream. Thanksgiving just wouldn’t right without it! But 16 days? I’d better get cracking on everything else!


  28. Jenna Pitt on November 8, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Oh wow… this looks delicious. Definitely not imperfect at all! :)


  29. Living The Good Life on November 8, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    What a beautiful cake!! I love the contrast of colours and tastes … just lovely. The “crust” that forms from upside down cakes are my favourite part.


  30. Kimberly (Badger Girl) on November 8, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    And I just emailed this to myself to make for Thanksgiving. I love cranberries and I love how simple this looks. Thanks for sharing! :)


  31. Roxana GreenGirl {A little bit of everything} on November 8, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    I love cranberries. I don’t think I’m gonna wait till Thanksgiving to bake myself a cake! Looks and sounds delish! Thanks for sharing Michelle


  32. Suzi Decker on November 8, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    I just had to comment to tell you how amazing that looks! I’ve been sitting here staring at it, wondering how soon I can get to the store to buy cranberries so that I can make it! Thanks for the always-amazing recipes!


  33. Kelly on November 8, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    I was just debating whether or not to make this cake again this year, as I’ve made it for the last two Thanksgivings. Just seeing the picture makes me wonder what I was thinking…of course it’s gonna be on the dessert table! Plus, somehow the cake seems to get even the next day as it sits in the fridge, melding the flavors together. Thanks for clarity!!!


  34. Karla @ The Culinary Enthusiast on November 8, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    I made this tonight and I justified it by calling it a preview-Thanksgiving dessert….it was wonderful!!!! So easy and quick to pull together! Perfect end for my weeknight dinner!! Thanks, Michelle!


  35. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction on November 8, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    This looks absolutely incredible. I love cranberries, and I can’t wait to give this a try!


  36. Jessie on November 9, 2011 at 12:31 am

    I made this an hour (the time it took the butter to be at room temp) after I read it. I substituted almond extract for the vanilla extract. It was so delicious! Thanks for the recipe. This is something I’d definitely do again.


  37. Sally on November 9, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Yeesh, just looking at these pictures is making me all hot and bothered. Beautiful cake!


  38. marla on November 9, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Fabulous cake! Pinned & Facebooked :)


  39. Lori on November 9, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Wondering if you could make it in a bunt pan to make it come out like a wreath? I’ve only made pineapple upside down cake once but not sure how it would come out in a tube-type or bunt pan. Anyone know?


    • Michelle on November 10th, 2011 at 1:34 am

      Oooh that’s such a pretty idea! Haven’t tried it but would love to know if you do!


  40. Winnie on November 9, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    The cake look amazingly beautiful
    I’ve never tasted cranberry cake, but I’d love to try it


  41. Kyle on November 9, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    This may be a silly question and I’m not calling your cake ugly but… Do you think there would be anyway way to make this in a bundt cake pan to make it look prettier?


    • Michelle on November 10th, 2011 at 1:35 am

      Hi Kyle, Lori brought that up above. I think it could work. Let me know if you give it a shot!


  42. Anna on November 9, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    I can’t wait for Thanksgiving either. I guess I am too excited. This upside down cake is indeed a perfect festive dessert. Everyone will be looking forward to this treat. Happy Holidays! Thanks for posting this!


  43. Natalie @ Cooking for My Kids on November 9, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    What a fantastic dessert for Thanksgiving. Your photos are beautiful. Totally pinning this one!


  44. Tres Amie on November 9, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    I am making Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie and Brownie Mint Dessert. I will probably have Ice Cream (maybe Pumpkin) and whipped cream as well as assorted nuts, mints and other tid bits.

    Happy Thanksgiving!


  45. Ann on November 10, 2011 at 12:53 am

    As I was reading your post and admiring the picture I kept thinking….this reminds me of the cake from the martha stewart magazine I have saved from years ago…then I saw it was adapted from her. I guess if it made enough of an impression on me to remember and on YOU to make you weak in the knees…it’s time to make it!


  46. Peggy on November 10, 2011 at 6:28 am

    I’m stocking up on cranberries as we speak, so definitely going to keep this recipe in mind for when I start busting out the recipes!


  47. Kate @ Kate from Scratch on November 10, 2011 at 6:55 am

    Looks delicious! Congratulations on the Top 9 spot! I love cranberry recipes.


  48. Sarah @ The Fit Cookie on November 10, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Wow, this looks amazing! Glad I found your blog – you have so many great recipes. Thanks!


  49. Heather on November 10, 2011 at 8:48 am

    This is such a great recipe – I have made it several times over the years, the perfect way to incorporate cranberries into your Thanksgiving Menu!


  50. Fran@ Broken Cookies Don't Count on November 10, 2011 at 9:35 am

    I love cranberries and this sounds amazing! I’m going to give it a try. Thanks so very much for sharing it!!


Comment Pages 1 2

Leave a Comment

(Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for your patience! If it is your first time commenting you may want to review the Comment Guidelines.)