This is probably TMI, but for years I've harbored a fantasy of creating a holiday card of me lying in bathtub covered with cranberries. Sort of like that Annie Lebovitz portrait of Whoopi Goldberg in a tub of milk, but holiday themed, with cranberries.
It's a fun idea visually, in my mind, which is where it will likely stay. (How many cranberries does it take to fill a bathtub?)
You too can fantasize about swimming in a sea of cranberries, especially if they are baked into an upside-down cake like this one. Cranberry jewels surrounded by a caramelized sauce cover the surface and bleed their tart sweet flavor into a dense, orange-zest speckled cake.
Why an Upside-Down Cranberry Cake?
Upside-down cakes are somewhat of an obsession around here. We love our pineapple version (the most requested cake at our family gatherings), and my father is known for trying every upside-down cake recipe he sees.
He gave this cranberry cake his seal of approval, by coming back for more, even after I sent him home with half the cake.
Making Cranberry Cake in Advance
For this recipe you need to turn the cake out before the caramel cools down. So, it should be inverted according to the recipe directions and not left in the pan, where the cooled caramel will solidify like cement and keep the cake glued in there.
The cake will keep well at room temperature for a couple of days, but you can also refrigerate it for about a week.
To freeze, wrap in plastic wrap first, then in foil to avoid freezer burn. Cranberry upside-down cake will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer.
To thaw the cake simply leave out on your counter at room temperature overnight.
Size Matters: The Right Cake Pan Size
This recipe needs a 9-inch pan with a minimum of 2-inch sides. It’s important! Higher is better to hold all the batter. A 9 x 9-inch square pan also works.
One reader used a spring form pan with an oven bag as a liner to avoid leakage. Worked like a charm!
Another reader used a Dutch oven for this and it worked great. They were able to make the caramel, then add the berries and batter, and "whoosh into the oven."
This recipe can also be made in cupcake tins filled 2/3 full. Just be sure to decrease the cooking time, checking at 30 to 35 minutes.
Readers' Suggestions to Adapt This Cake
- "I baked it in two 6" pans and put the cranberry tops together in the middle to form a filling between the 2 layers. Then I did a "naked" frosting of the 2 layer cake with buttercream made with orange juice instead of milk. I decorated it with sugared cranberries and fresh rosemary and a tall red birthday candle." - Gwen
- "I didn't have sour cream so I subbed it for homemade buttermilk (1/2 of milk + 1/2 tbs lime juice)" - Génesis
- "Added extra orange zest and squeezed the juice from the orange over top of the cranberries before putting the batter in." - Ashley
- Use plain or plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
5 Desserts for Cranberry Lovers
- Chocolate Cranberry Zucchini Muffins
- Apple Cranberry Currant Crumble Pie
- Cranberry Orange Nut Bread
- Cranberry Sorbet
- Pear and Cranberry Rustic Tart
Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
Baking times will vary, depending on the brand of flour, size of pan, and the thickness of your sour cream. The batter should be gloppy, not runny. So, add a little more flour to get to gloppy if your batter is too thin.
Some readers have needed to cook this cake longer than the baking times indicated, so definitely test before turning out!
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons (58g) unsalted butter
12 ounces (340g) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Scant pinch ground cloves
8 tablespoons (117g) unsalted butter, at room temperature (plus more for buttering the pan)
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
1/4 cup milk
9-inch round cake pan with at least 2-inch high sides
Preheat the oven:
Set the oven to 350°F.
Butter a 9-inch cake pan:
Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan with sides at least 2 inches high.
Make the caramel topping:
In a small saucepan, place the 4 tablespoons of butter and the 3/4 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.
Pour the caramel into the pan and top with cranberries:
Pour the brown sugar butter mixture into the prepared cake pan. Spread the cranberries on top of the sugar butter mixture.
Whisk together the dry ingredients:
In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground cloves.
Beat the butter, then add sugar, eggs, and zest:
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.
Alternate the flour mixture and sour cream, then add the milk:
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.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake:
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 with just a few moist crumbs. When pressing down on the cake, the surface should bounce back, about 55 to 60 minutes.
Cool the cake in 10 minutes, then invert:
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.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 8 to 10|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 18g||23%|
|Saturated Fat 10g||52%|
|Total Carbohydrate 66g||24%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||7%|
|Total Sugars 46g|
|Vitamin C 6mg||28%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|