Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Baking times will vary, depending on the brand of flour, size of pan, thickness of 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!

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8 to 10



  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp (1/4 cup or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces 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
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp (plus more for buttering the pan)
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (or greek yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup of milk


  • A 9-inch cake pan with at least 2-inch high sides


1 Butter a 9-inch cake pan: Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch diameter cake pan.

2 Make caramel topping with brown sugar and butter: In a small saucepan, place the 1/4 cup 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.

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3 Pour brown sugar mixture into cake 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.

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4 Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves: Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl vigorously whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground cloves.

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5 Beat butter, add sugar, add eggs, stir in 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.

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6 Alternate adding sour flour mixture and sour cream, then add 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.

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7 Pour batter into cake pan and bake: Pour batter over the cranberries in the cake pan, and smooth the surface.

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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, and pressing down on the surface bounces back, 55 minutes to an hour.

8 Cool cake in pan, run knife around edge, turn over onto a serving plate: 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.

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  • Monica Harmon

    My Boyfriend is allergic to eggs, but I am sure that he would love this! I am wondering if anyone has tried this recipe with an egg substitute?

    Thank you for any input!

  • Deb

    Elise, I love this dessert around the holidays–it’s just so beautiful! However, the center NEVER is baked all the way through, even when keeping the temp at 350 the entire time (I do make this with a GF flour blend so that may be part of my problem, although it seems others struggle with it as well). I recently bought a Bundt pan with hopes that that will solve the underbaked center (because there is none!), but would I need to alter the batter part of the recipe at all to prevent it overflowing the pan, or not baking to doneness since it will be thicker? Please share your thoughts if/when you get a chance. Thank you!

  • Kasia

    I made this cake couple of times already. It’s a beautiful and delicious cake! I’m planning to bake it again and freeze. I read the comments- nobody freeze it yet.. o well, let me test it:). I let you know around Christmas:)


  • Roxie

    Love your site and have been using your recipes for over two years with much success :) Until I made the upside-down cranberry cake tonite. Followed recipe exactly.. it did not bake in middle at 325 for 60 mins. Looked baked and came out clean.. outside was okay lol. Perhaps baking it at 350 in my oven might do it ? Love the flavour.

  • Jemima

    This looks really similar to a microwave (if you can believe that!) cranberry coffee cake that my mom used to make for breakfast sometimes in the 80s and early 90s! The recipe was from a book that came with her microwave and got lost or given away at some point during a move between countries. I’ve been looking for the recipe ever since as it was delicious, the whole family loved it! I think I will give this a try! Thank you!!!

  • Susan

    Yum, I’m making this for Thanksgiving. I’m sure it is delicious, as is every one of your recipes, Elise. About that ‘cranberries in the bathtub’ photo idea, remember that cranberries float so you wouldn’t need that many! Be sure to let us know if you decide to go ahead…

  • Shannon

    Hi Elise- Could I use a bundt pan!

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Shannon, I haven’t made it in a bundt pan, but if you do, please let us know how it turns out for you!

      • Linda

        My grandson and I made this for a potluck Christmas party in a bunds pan. It was delicious, BUT, the cranberries weren’t very pretty. They turned more brown than the photo shows and did not look very appetizing. Nobody touched it, except my family! There was over 100 people there!

        • Elise Bauer

          Hmmm, that’s weird! Maybe try to make it in a regular cake pan? Or show part of it sliced already so you can see the redder cranberries that have sunk into the cake a bit?

  • Carmen Keels

    I love this recipe! I make it for Christmas or Thanksgiving and everyone always loves it!! My favorite thing about it is the gently scented cake. Just a beautiful combination of spices. I have passed this recipe along to many friends. And they love it too!!

  • Preheated, the Baking Podcast

    We made this beautiful cake and reviewed it on our baking podcast, Preheated. Easy to make and so pretty! Thank you, Elise. It was a big hit at my holiday party.

  • Gina Conrod

    Made in individual ramekins for bringing to friends dinner party.

  • Deznite

    Thank you. My family loved it. I did have to find an alternative to the cake pan, so I used my dutch oven for this and it worked great because I was able to make the caramel, then add the berries and batter and whoosh into the oven.

  • Aline

    Do you think I could use a springform pan? It’s the only one I have that would be tall enough!

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Aline, perhaps if you lined the inside with foil it might work? Otherwise the caramel topping at the bottom will leak out the bottom of a springform pan.

      • Aline

        I actually ended up using a 9in sauce pan I have and it turned out perfect! Great recipe! Thank you!!

  • Mae

    Is that 12 oz of cranberries weight or volume i.e. 1½ cups or 340 g which would be almost 3½ cups.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Mae, it’s by weight. The cranberries we buy here come in 12 ounce packages.

  • Lisanna

    I don’t like really sweet desserts, so I reduced the sugar (and I used coconut sugar in the cake). The recipe still tastes delicious with just 1/4 c sugar with the butter and 3/4 c sugar in the cake! I’m going to try a pan version too, to serve more people.

  • Marg Reffle

    I made this to take to my brothers for Christmas dessert (I always bring 2 desserts, and always new recipes that I haven’t made before). I made it a couple of days ahead, when I had time before it got crazy. It was a very easy and yummy dessert. I don’t bake much, but I would make it again because it was so easy.

  • Peggy P

    I made this today and it is just wonderful! I followed the recipe exactly and wouldn’t change a thing. That being said I did have an issue with the pan size. I used a 9″ round 2″ deep cake pan and I kind of knew when I added the cranberries that my pan wasn’t deep enough and I knew it for sure when I added the batter lol! In the end it all worked out and I had a delicious cake. Just a word of caution make sure that your pan really is a full 2″ deep. Mine was supposed to be but with batter to the brim before baking I’m beginning to doubt the pan’s markings. I’ve just loved every recipe that I’ve made from your site! Thanks!

  • Claire

    I made this cake with a slight variation for Thanksgiving and it was delicious! I replaced a quarter-cup of the flour with cornmeal to add more of a rustic, autumnal feel, and it was a success. Not too corny at all, just a subtle difference. I might even up the cornmeal to 1/3 or even a half next time to see what happens… Thanks for another home-run recipe, Elise!

  • Bonnie

    Oh my gosh, this is PERFECT, beautiful, tasty, and easy! This cake is going to be my center piece for Christmas….i will probably be making another one before then however. Thank you for sharing.

  • Kelly

    Can this be made ahead and frozen? Would love to make for Thanksgiving and anything I can do in advance is a bonus! Thank you!

    • Elise

      Hi Kelly, I haven’t tried making it ahead and freezing it, but if you do, please let us know how it turns out for you!

  • Jo-Anne

    Would vanilla greek yogurt be ok to use instead of plain as that is what I have on hand. Thanks for your advise!

    • Elise

      Hi Jo-Anne, well you’ll get a bit of vanilla flavor in there if you use vanilla flavored yogurt, and you might not need quite as much sugar. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out for you!

  • Melanie

    OMG I made this last week and it was fantastic. I didn’t have a 2″ deep cake pan so I made extra topping and divided the cake mix into 2 cake pans. It didn’t take as long to cook and was super tasty.


  • Jackie

    Have you ever made this the night before an event? If so, did you keep it in the refrigerator or leave it out over night?

    • Elise

      I’ve left it out without a problem.

  • Yvonne

    Hi Elise,

    I made this delicious desert yesterday for Thanksgiving, and it turned out wonderfully! It was very tasty, and probably the prettiest upside down cake I’ve ever made. I made it with a springform pan with foil fitted on the bottom piece and placed it in a baking pan, which worked well. I think as a result of the additional surface from the baking pan, I had to bake it for ~25 minutes more than called for. Thanks for a great recipe, and I hope you had a great Thanksgiving! :)

  • Sara Teixido

    I just want to say that I made this as one of the desserts for our holiday dinner and it was so delish! The only changes I made is that I used fresh grated ginger instead of ground ginger, and I peeled and cut rounds of clementine oranges to put in the caramel before pouring in the cranberries. The top looked beautiful when it came out! I would venture to say that this is even better on day two as all of the flavors really meld together nicely and it is very moist and delicious. So make it a day ahead and put it aside. It’s gorgeous!

    • Elise

      It’s beautiful with the clementines Sara, what a great idea, thank you for sharing!

  • Nicole

    P.S. I used a 2″ high pan. From the comments I was worried and searched everywhere for a taller pan with no luck, so I decided to stop worrying. It overflowed a tiny bit but nothing worth worrying about. The cake itself rose up about 1/2″ above the pan while cooking, but once I placed it on the cooling rack, it settled before I flipped it. Even if it hadn’t, I just would have put the plate on the top of the cake and hoped for the best.

  • Nicole

    Delicious! I cooked it until a tester came out clean (about 1 hour 5 minutes) and it was perfect. Next time I’ll probably wait 5 minutes longer before flipping. It worked and looked beautiful, but it felt very precarious and took me 5 minutes anyway, because I was being so careful sliding the pan off.

    Do you have any suggestions for reheating individual slices? I’ve already had two slices cold and they were great! But warm would probably be even better.

    The best response was my dad who has mostly stopped eating sweets and almost never bakes had a second slice AND asked for the recipe. He said this may be the only cake he bakes before he dies (which will hopefully not be anytime soon!). He wants to try it out with sour cherries in the summer and he also wants to try to figure out how to get the top to caramelize.

    Thanks for an awesome recipe! And an equally awesome fantasy!

  • Nicole Wilson

    I just made this and it is delicious! I had a two inch tall pan but it still overflowed. The top was pretty brown at 55 minutes but the middle was still not done so I reduced the temp to 325 and cooked it for another ten minutes. I just leveled the top with a knife before I flipped it. This will definitely be an addition the my holidays.

  • Adam

    Made this last night and it came out perfect. Made with Greek yougert. After an hour, I covered with foil and let cook for another 10-15 because the center wasn’t quite done. Delicious!

  • Elicia


    I made this cake last year and I could not get the center fully cooked. I left it in the oven for much longer than listed in the recipe. We ended up scooping out the center and serving it as a ring. It was delicious! Any suggestions?

    Thank you for your delicious recipes!

    • Elise

      Is yous sour cream too wet maybe? If so, I would drain any excess water from it. You can also just cook the cake longer. Note that every time you open the oven door to check on the cake, it lowers the oven temp and can add up to 10 minutes of cooking time to whatever you are cooking.

  • Libby

    So good! Thank you! I just did a test run for thanksgiving, and it passed the test :)

  • Gigi

    Hi Elise,

    I love your recipes in general and this one just confirms it. I made this cake twice so far and everybody loves it. I gave your url to ten people at least. I did make a mistake by using a spring form without adding the foil to the bottom and I lost some of the sugar syrup, but the cake was still delicious. My cake pan has 3″ side and when I put the batter over cranberries/sugar it came almost to the top, which is higher than shown in your photo. I put all the quantities of the ingredients exactly as you listed them so I am thinking that either your pan has even higher sides or maybe I mixed the batter longer and aerated it more. The final height of my cake when it cooled down was 2 1/4″. This is just fyi – cake tastes fantastic. Thank you for this and many other superb recipes, both savory and sweet.

  • Marisol

    Thanks for a great recipe! I have leftover red currants. Do you think that I can just substitute them for the cranberries. They are both tart berries…

    • Elise

      Hi Marisol, I haven’t tried substituting red currants for the cranberries, but if you do, please let us know how it turns out!

  • jo-anne anderson

    Can this be frozen? I have half a cake leftover that I would like to freeze to have a week later. It turned out picture perfect and so yummy!

  • Pam Garland

    I made this for my mother’s 86th birthday (because she really likes cranberries) and everyone loved it. I followed the recipe (except that I used fewer cranberries because I had more than a single layer with a little less than 10 ounces and I was afraid of overflowing) and it turned out perfect. I used frozen, but then thawed, cranberries. I served it with whipped cream but am going to try orange sherbet when I make it for my book club. Thanks!!
    P.S. I gave the leftover cake to my (normally very nutrition-minded) parents and they skipped dinner the next night and just ate cake.


  • Patricia M

    I am making this for a valentine’s dinner with friends. The smell in my kitchen is making me drool! I have a 10″ fry pan with 2+” sides – oven-safe – am baking in that. It is almost rising over the edge but I think it will be okay. I wonder if some of those who had trouble with the baking time were using frozen berries? I would imagine that adds to the required baking time. Mine were frozen so I will report back on the total cook time.

    • Patricia M

      So I tested at 50 minutes – still raw. At 55 minutes it was done. Very good, but definitely better when slightly warm. Next time I will omit orange zest and add some vanilla for a more warm, less tart taste.

  • Judy H

    I too had a large bag of cranberries from Costco in the freezer. Decided I needed to use them and made this recipe. I had a small glitch in that the sides of my pan weren’t high enough & I had some spillage in the oven. Even with my error, the end result was a terrific cake. I even have enough cranberries left to make another cake, of course using the correct pan. Has any tried using a 9″ springform pan? All in all, this is a “keeper” recipe. Thank you for sharing.

  • Deb

    I subbed a makeshift gluten free flour blend (1 cup sorghum flour, 1/2 cup almond flour, 1/4 cup arrowroot starch [would have used tapioca starch but was out] and 1/2 tablespoon xanthan gum. It is baking as we speak; I will report back!

    • Deb

      With the above substitutions to make this cake GF, it turned out great except for the under-baked center. While my toothpick came out clean, it was still a little wobbly in the center. Keeping it in an extra 10 minutes would have done the trick. I think reducing the xanthan gum to 1 tsp would help too. I’m going to make this again today, only using peaches instead of cranberries. Thank you for the great recipe!!

    • Deb

      I will keep on tweeking with GF until it comes out right; I think the temp needs to remain at 350 for the duration and keeping it in for at least an hour. I’ll try it again with these variations and report!

      • stefanie

        Deb, any updates on making this with GF flours? I’ve made this cake several times with wonderful results (thank you Elise!) I’ve even riffed on it using blueberries and lemon in place of the cranberries and orange, but have not attempted gluten free.

        • Deb

          Hi Stefanie! I haven’t made this in a while but was eyeing the cranberries at the store the other day with this in mind! I have moved beyond making my own makeshift blends to using things like Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose GF mix, but I think what I proposed above will work just fine, so long as the oven is kept at 350 and not lower. Sorghum is a great flour to use because it lends a little sweetness and it is fairly light. I’m not sure what other flours I would recommend though. As always to keep in mind with GF flours, the dessert is best eaten the day of or the next day, otherwise the flavor is compromised and it’s just not as enjoyable to eat. Report back if you come up with a great substitution! I’d be interested to try!!

  • Paula

    can you use pears? Any changes?

    • Elise

      I have no idea if it will work by substituting pears. If you give it a shot, please let us know how it turns out for you.

      • Paula

        I used pears (the brown ones) it came out great!

  • rivky

    I bought a bag a fresh cranberries at Costco for really cheap, I then went on-line looking for a recipe. I made this cake because it looked good even though I’m not a fan of cinnamon, ginger and cloves. I brought it to a party and it got rave reviews.
    Great recipe

  • Kate

    This was delicious and beautiful. We made it to bring along as our contribution to Thanksgiving dinner and it was a wonderful alternative to all things pumpkin. I used a Bundt pan and greased it very well. I was concerned it would stick but it came out just fine.


  • Mary Ann Sumner

    Dear Elise:
    I made this cake for Christmas Eve dinner and the guests raved on into the evening and into the next day about it. It is truly a delicious and unique experience. I made the cake in an angel food pan, lining it with parchment paper to prevent the butter from leaking out. I needed to bake it for about an hour and 15 minutes. It was perfect and beautiful.
    Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe.
    Mary Ann

  • Debbie

    I made this for a Christmas dessert. It came out awesome. I used a 10″ cast iron skillet which definitely wasn’t high enough. Luckily I used foil under the pan just in case, and ended up having to lift the foil up around the rim. Thank you for sharing the recipe. I will definitely make this again.

  • tif

    This cake is divine. The orange and spices are subtle yet very flavorful. I tried this in a Bundt pan. I thought it would look so nice but the topping falls off in clumps and then the presentation isn’t as delicate as the cake. I had people skipping this dessert in favor of my other (neater) cake until someone raved about the flavor.
    It even tasted great the next day with a cup of coffee…It has fruit…totally works as breakfast…right?!
    Thanks again Elise for a fantastic site xo

  • Mary Ann Sumner

    Hi, Elise:
    I want to make this cake for Christmas Eve dinner but to save time, would like to make it a day ahead. Is it best eaten the day it is made or will it hold up well to be served the day after I make it? Thank you very much.

    • Elise

      Hi Mary Ann, it’s fine the next day.

  • Shefali

    I had a bag of cranberries to use up, so I decided to try out this recipe last night. The cake came out perfect and looks almost exactly like the photo you have.
    I didn’t have any oranges at hand so I used a tablespoon of lemon juice in the cake instead of the rind.

  • Diana

    I made this recipe a few nights ago and it turned out really, really well. This cake is stupendous! Thank you for another awesome recipe!

  • jenn

    This was great. I’m always looking for ways to use fresh cranberries, so thanks for the recipe! The only problem I ran into was that the center of my cake was not even close to done, while the edges and top were getting too brown. (I didn’t realize how undercooked it was until I had already inverted it…dang!) I improvised by scooping out the center and filling it with whipped cream. It actually looked pretty. Next time I think I will bake this in a bundt pan to avoid the same problem. Thanks again for a delicious recipe.

  • Ann Marie

    Great recipe, easy to make. I used fresh cranberries. Perfect for Thanksgiving and it was well liked. I actually overbaked it a bit (the top was quite dark when I removed it from the oven) but no one noticed since the cake was flipped, and it was not too dry despite overbaking. It was a dense cake. I can’t wait to make it again. I bet it would work well with the frozen blueberries I’ve had forever in my freezer.

    • kevin

      Blueberries sounds like a hit, yes. I think a nice lemon poppy seed batter would complement them very well.

      If you’re going to plate it individually for e/one, if you’re using the cranberries or blueberries, a nice compote mixture would come off nice.

  • Lauren

    Made this for thanksgiving and it was a WINNER! Everyone asked for it to stay in the permanent rotation :) thank you for a delicious addition to our holiday table!!!

  • Pat B

    Made this cake for T-Day dinner at a friend’s house – it was a HUGE hit! I do think I’ll add some walnuts to the topping the next time I make it & there WILL be a next time. Hubby & I had some this morning & it was even better the second day – more moist & yummy!

  • Kathleen

    Big hit. Forgot the nuts but nobody missed them. Cranberries looked like glistening jewels. My bake time was much longer as well. This has already been requested for Christmas. So glad I tried it.

  • Anita Glau

    I followed the recipe exactly, except I used a springform pan. It baked for an hour and 15 minutes plus, and was still not cooked through in the middle. The top was hard, but the rest was a sodden mess. The flavor was fine, but overall not fit for serving to guests. So disappointed, because the picture looked amazing!

    • kevin

      Interesting, in that I too baked in a springform pan, yet it turned out picture perfect :)

      I did so because I didn’t want any of it to stick to the sides of a conventional pan. I would guess that “something” was left out of the recipe, be it an ingredient or time to bake?

      Mine turned out just like the picture, and the PIC is what made me want to try it right away.

  • Michelle

    Just pulled it out of the oven. It was my teen daughter’s first Thanksgiving dessert, and it turned out just beautiful! Thanks for such a great recipe and perfect instructions!

  • Paula

    If you make the cake the day before it is to be eaten, does it have to be kept in the fridge?

    • Elise

      Personally I don’t think it’s necessary, just make sure it’s covered. That said, some people will insist that you must refrigerate, so to each his/her own.

    • kevin

      Agree, and many things that are “supposed to be” refrigerated, it isn’t all the necessary.

      This cake however is best FRESH. Some cakes/pies are just as yummy the 2nd/3rd day, but this cake loses some of it’s freshness the day after. It’s best when served shortly after you invert it imo.

      Made the cake y’day & yes, it’s awesome! Often times I’m not able to tell from just reading a recipe whether or not it will be a home run, but when you have a pic of the finished product like here, it made me want to try it.

      I warmed up a piece this morning to enjoy with my coffee.

  • Aly

    Just wondering- I’m baking a TON for tomorrow and was wondering if this is something that I can pre-mix and then bake in the morning?


    • Elise

      No, I wouldn’t advice mixing ahead. You can make the whole cake a day ahead though.

      • Aly

        Awesome, thanks for the quick answer! I look forward to making this!!!! :)

  • mish

    Elise, do you think this would work well gluten free if GF flour was substituted for the all purpose flour?

    • Elise

      Hi Mish, great question. I don’t know. I rarely bake with gluten-free flours. If you try it with a GF flour, please report back and let us know 1) what flour you used and 2) how well it worked in this recipe. Thanks!

  • Kevin


    In searching for a recipe to settle on for one of the dessert items, I “stumbled” on this one. Loving to cook/bake, I’m not 100% sure of doing the following though. Someone PLEASE interrupt me before I spoil this one, but…

    Is there any reason this upside down cake (or ANY cake for that matter) could not be baked in a bundt cake pan? These upside down cakes come off so thin if you know what I mean…almost like a coffee cake in appearance.

    I’m thinking that a bundt pan would present a whole lot nicer…yes/no? Then too, you could drizzle some sweetened cranberry sauce over the cake and have it look like a million bucks! :)

    If I don’t hear back from s/one in a few hours (it’s Thanksgiving eve), I’m goin’ for it! lol

    Enjoy the holiday tomorrow e/one & all cranberries has to offer! :) We’ve all got so much to be thankful for no doubt, and as someone so aptly said, “If we thank God more, we’ll have more to thank God for”.

    • Elise

      I think this cake would be lovely baked in a bundt pan. It probably needs a little more time in the oven, you’ll have to test to determine how much.

  • Margaret

    Can non-fat plain Greek yogurt be used? I understand there needs to be a certain amount of fat in the cake and don’t want to omit it by using non-fat yogurt, which is all I have on hand.

  • Jon

    Another winner Elise! What a creative way to use cranberries since they are plentiful this time of the year. Used my last bag from last Holiday season to make this and added pecans to the batter for something a little extra. Being a good Southerner it was of course made in my trusty cast iron skillet.

  • Kim

    Hi Elise
    I’ve always wondered what purpose sour cream or yogurt serve in a baking recipe and if there are any acceptable substitutions?

    • Elise

      You can also use buttermilk, though you might have to increase the flour a bit as buttermilk is more liquid-y than sour cream or yogurt. The addition of this type of substance benefits a baking recipe in several ways. The “sour” flavor of the sour cream, yogurt, or buttermilk intensifies and brightens the flavor of everything else, much the way a splash of lemon juice will brighten up a savory dish. The acid can be used to offset an alkaline in the batter, like baking soda, creating more leavening. The fat in the sour cream, yogurt, or buttermilk will make the baked good richer and help it stay moist longer. Baked goods made without fat or with little fat need to be eaten almost immediately, while warm, otherwise they will be rather dry. Baked goods with fat will keep longer and stay more moist in my experience.

  • Amy

    Just wanted to give some input:

    * used light brown sugar in the topping and it worked fine
    * put it in a 9″ springform pan wrapped around the bottom with foil, no leaks
    * also put it on a cookie sheet in case there were any leaks, which I think is why mine took an extra 20 minutes to finish. My oven was set to 325 and the oven thermometer I have inside read the same
    * used Greek yogurt and it was great
    * it’s really lovely as-is when it comes out of the oven, or you could dress it up with some extra fresh cranberries and maybe a few curls of orange zest in the center, or something similar

    I made it tonight as a trial run for Thanksgiving, I’m taking 1/2 the cake to a get together and 1/2 to work so I can get lots of feedback. I’m sure it will all be good!

  • Donna

    The cake was delicious, but regarding the baking time–the top of the recipe has cook time of 1 hour, 10 minutes. Under step 7 of the method, it has baking time of 55 minutes to an hour (why the difference?). My oven is accurate, and the baking time was easily 1 hour, 10 minutes–like the top of the recipe.

    • Elise

      I consider prep time to be the time to get the ingredients ready to start cooking (like chopping onion). I consider cook time to be the stirring, mixing, etc. plus any baking or sautéing time. That is where the discrepancy you are seeing is coming from. Every oven is different, even if it has accurate temperature, the way that the air circulates in an oven will make a difference in cooking time.

  • Mish

    Elise–does it matter whether you use dark or light brown sugar?

  • Arcey

    I asked about adding apples to the batter last week. Just wanted to report back that in the end, I just followed the recipe as is. It was quite good. I think this batter would be very good with diced apples folded in (or blueberries). I also think it would work well with apples instead of cranberries as the “upside down” part.

    I also used a springform pan with foil around the bottom, on a baking sheet. The baking time was much long than the 55-60 minutes, however, and I ended up raising the temp to 350 after about 70 minutes and baked another 5-10 minutes after that before it was done. I wonder if using the baking sheet added to the baking time. My oven is the correct temp according to two thermometers inside.

    The cranberries were on the brownish side when I unmolded, which I think was more from the brown sugar/butter mixture than from the cooking. Do you know if using white sugar would work well? I could really taste the brown sugar flavor, which was fine, but I wonder if you’ve tried white sugar. The cake came out of the pan so easily!

    Thanks again for your wonderful, “simple” recipes. Have a terrific Thanksgiving!

    • Arcey

      I meant to say, in the first paragraph, the batter would be good with apples or blueberries, with no upside down topping, just as a different kind of cake.

    • Elise

      Hi Arcey, I tried to make this cake with white sugar instead of brown sugar in the topping, using at least a couple methods. Nothing worked. Brown sugar is the way to go with the topping.

      • Arcey

        Thanks Elise. Maybe I won’t pack the brown sugar so tightly into to measuring cup. Maybe I had a little too much. Also seemed like a little too much butter maybe, since some of it seemed not to consolidate well with the sugar. Maybe I didn’t follow your directions well enough on that part of the recipe.

  • Cullinatrix

    I’m going to try this with spiced rum-soaked dried cherries in place of cranberries!

  • Jada

    Hi there !

    Delicious looking cake !
    Could I make this cake in a bundt pan ? If so , would the cooking time be the same ?

    Thanks :)

    • Elise

      I haven’t made this in a bundt pan, but I bet it would look beautiful. No idea on the baking time.

    • Deb in Indiana

      Hi, Jada,

      I made this cake in a bundt pan and it turned out great. It was very pretty — berries did not hold their shape on the cake after it was turned out, but did a kind of self-sauce down the sides.

      I cannot remember if I had to adjust the cooking time — generally I just start checking with a toothpick 10 or so minutes before the recipe says, and go from there. I am thinking that the time would be close to the same, maybe a little longer.

  • Julie

    Delicious! And an instant family favorite. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  • Sonya

    Made this today with my son (he’s 5) :) He saw me looking at this cake yesterday and said it looked “yummy” and we should make it. We had all the ingredients so, why not!? It turned out beautifully.
    I DID use a springform pan, but I placed it on a cookie sheet and baked it as a unit like that. There was some gooey leakage from the springform onto the cookie sheet, but it flipped over onto our serving tray easily and turned out beautifully. Cleaning up the pan and cookie sheet seemed like less trouble than buying a new 2″ high cake pan.
    I’ll be making this over and over for the holidays! (I may even throw a few chopped walnuts in with the cranberries!) Thanks!

    • Kevin

      So the walnuts don’t get overlooked, mix ’em in the batter, not the cranberries? The topping already has a lot goin’ on with it as it is. Maybe even still in a very few (or strategically place lol) a few semi-burst cranberries into the batter as well for some extra coloration & zing?

  • Desiree

    I just made this cake yesterday, with gluten free flour and it is deeeeeeelish!
    Wonderful recipe; perfect for the holidays :)

  • Kelly

    I made this today to bring to an early Thanksgiving day celebration tomorrow. My husband and I couldn’t resist trying a piece and it is incredible! Now I am faced with the task of artfully arranging the remaining slices on a platter so no one knows what happened :)

  • Neeraj Kumar

    This one was simple and awesome. It came out really well.

  • Mary

    Am definitely trying this for T day. I love your bath idea. I think Julia and Paul Child made Valentines Day cards featuring them in the tub. You’re following in some impressive footsteps!

  • Sarah

    Better yet, plan a trip to Wisconsin during cranberry harvest. Instead of a bathtub full of cranberries, you can go out into the flooded marsh (they’ll lend you a pair of waders) and stand among acres of floating berries. Then visit a cranberry festival to sample delicious cranberry recipes.

  • Laura P.

    Love the idea of the cranberry bath – not only a lovely and fun idea but probably good for your skin, especially if a few of them were cooked through first!
    I had to make this cake today and it is absolutely delicious! I even used 1 C (white) sugar instead of 1 1/2 C and it turned out perfectly. However how do I go about getting the cranberries to soak further into the cake, like they look in the picture?

    • Elise

      Hi Laura, good question on the cranberries, I don’t know! For the batch pictured I used fresh cranberries and didn’t do anything special. They just did what they did.

  • Lele W.

    I went to the Simply Recipes site to look up the fish chowder recipe that I’d seen there (which, by the way, turned out *great* – comments already closed, though). This recipe was featured on the home page and, since I have the attention span of a five-year-old, I was distracted by it. I’d been planning to make an apple tart for dessert but made this instead. It was *super* easy and a *huge* hit with our guests (always a good sign when people not only have seconds, but ask if they can take some home with them). Perfect combination of flavors. This will definitely be a keeper.

  • Margaret

    This looks like it will be the centerpiece dessert for my Thanksgiving table this year. I cannot wait to try it! Can it be made ahead and refrigerated without losing any of its deliciousness?

  • Bobby

    Thanks for the great recipe! It’s original for my cooking!

  • Linda

    Elise – I read your email posting while sitting on the couch with my husband on Saturday evening. I said, “Ooohh this looks good – I think I’ll make this cake tomorrow.” My husband said, “How about now?” So I did – I made your cake instead of supper and it is delicious (fortunately I just bought a fresh bag of cranberries from Trader Joe’s). Followed your instructions to a “T”, except that I used regular plain yogurt, not Greek, since that’s what I had on hand. The cake is super delicious! Moist, dense, with a really nice crumb. Love the tart-sweetness from the cranberries. Looking forward to having a piece for breakfast in the morning :)

  • arcey

    Elise, this looks wonderful. I made the apple cake from Dorie Greenspan’s book that you recommended a couple of years ago, and am wanting to make it again. I’m wondering what you think of combining the two recipes — add diced apples to the cake batter, but follow the rest of this recipe. Or maybe follow the cranberry upside-down part of this recipe, and use the apple cake recipe from Dorie’s book for the cake part. Any suggestions for getting apples and cranberries together for this cake?


    • Elise

      Hi Arcey, why don’t you put some chopped apple into the batter instead of the orange zest?

  • LaurenLL

    I love cranberries and upside-down cakes! In fact, a few years ago, I created an oatmeal-apple upside down cake that was delicious. Anyway, this cake looks delicious. Even though I’m planning the usual pumpkin pie and apple pie, I am going to find a way to sneak this one as well even though there are only four of us eating Thanksgiving dinner! After all, you gotta consider leftovers. The image of luxuriating in a tubful of cranberries is hilarious!

  • Moira

    If you don’t have a cake pan, a 10 inch cast iron skillet would probably work. You could probably make the caramel in that, add the cranberries, turn off the heat, then add the cake and into the oven. My Mom made upside down cakes with all kinds of fruit (berries, apricots, peaches, pineapple, apples even grapes) and used that method, but only used her hot milk sponge for the cake.

  • Jennifer

    I don’t have a cake pan- could I substitute with a springform pan?

    Btw, I love your blog and your mango-chicken curry recipe is one of my favorites. (-:

    • Elise

      If you want to use a springform I would wrap the bottom and sides tightly in two layers of heavy duty foil. That should do the trick to keep the topping from leaking into your oven.

  • Jen

    Do the frozen cranberries need to thaw first or can you pour them in frozen?

    • Elise

      For one batch I used frozen, the other fresh. Didn’t seem to make a difference in the cooking time or the results for me, but if you use frozen, you might need to increase the cooking time.

  • Paula

    This is one of my favorite fall/holiday cakes. It’s sometimes called Nantucket Cake. Beautiful to look at and delicious to taste. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Susi Byers

    Do you think that I can use a spring form pan for this recipe, or will all the goodies leak out? I’m hoping not to have to buy a new pan but have none with 2″ sides, except for the springform. This recipe looks great!

    • Elise

      If you want to use a springform I would wrap the bottom and sides tightly in two layers of heavy duty foil. That should do the trick to keep the topping from leaking into your oven.

  • Claudia

    This looks so delicious! Unfortunately, fresh or frozen cranberries are not available where I live :-( Would it work with dried cranberries?

    • Jen from MD

      You might be able to try it by rehydrating the dried cranberries. Soak them in hot tap water, let them sit for a bit and then drain them well so you don’t water down the syrup. I can’t guarantee it will work, but that would be my best guess.

  • jjmcgaffey

    I’m not quite clear on the “don’t stir after the butter melts” bit – how do I combine the sugar with the butter, then? Or is it supposed to be swirled? It looks pretty smooth in your pictures.

    Sounds yummy – I think I’ll be making this soon. Once I get the technique clear, of course.

    • Elise

      Stir it until all of the butter has melted, then just let it sit and bubble away before pouring it into the prepared pan. If you continue to stir, you can cause sugar crystals to form.

      • Chris S.

        Elise, how long do you “just let it sit and bubble away” after the butter melts, “before pouring it into the prepared pan”? Maybe you specified something there in the instructions and I’m just confused, but I don’t see it…. :)

        (but the recipe looks so fabulous, it’s worth experimenting, and even blowing it the first time if necessary, just to try achieving something so wonderful!!!)

  • Sue R.

    Oh my! This looks simply amazing and I am going to make it tomorrow! I have been obsessed with cranberries this year. I made a ton of apple cranberry jam this week, but this looks so much better than toast and jam!

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    Mmm such a fabulous cake! Yummy!!

  • Katie

    Hi Elise!

    I’ve been a huge fan of your blog for years now, and I follow your crouton technique for the stovetop allll the time. :)

    I was recently diagnosed with a severe egg intolerance though. :( I really want to make this cake, do you happen to know any substitutions I could make for this cake?

    • Elise

      Hi Katie, oh my, I don’t know how one could make this cake without eggs, perhaps by doubling up on the baking powder? Just make sure your baking powder is fresh (less than 6 months old) or you won’t have any leavening for the cake.

      • Roxanne

        There are commercially available egg replacers that you can find in most natural foods stores. Just follow the package directions.

        Alternately, you can use soaked chia seeds. The cake will be a bit denser than egg replacer, but it works. Just google “chia seeds for egg replacer” for guidance.

    • Catherine

      Allergy owners unite! I don’t “suffer” from allergies, I own mine:eggs, nuts, fish. What’s left for me to eat, right?. :P
      Anyways, here are a couple of sites that have options listed for recipe alterations (specifically the pages regarding egg replacement).

    • Gene

      You can also replace each egg a recipe calls for with 1 tbsp ground flax and 3 tbsp water, mix that together so it gets thick and slightly gelatinous. Won’t work very well for cookies though… sorry.

    • Carol

      try using egg replacer ..its dairy free..vegans use it…I usually add a teaspoon or 2 more to give the cake a more airy texture

    • reen b

      I’ve subbed unsweetened applesauce in cakes before with good results.

      Elise, this looks absolutely fantastic! I’m not a great baker but it seems easy enough even for me…I’ll give it a shot!

  • Deanna

    Since cranberries float, you could just fill a tub up with water then float a thick layer of cranberries on top.

    I love upside down cakes! This looks delicious.

    • Elise

      Great idea Deanna, thanks!

    • Caroline

      I had the same thought, having grown up near cranberry bog country!
      Great timing with this recipe– I just bought a bag of cranberries (hard to resist this time of year aren’t they?) and was debating what to do with them.

  • Anna

    I had to give up wheat flour recently, but this looks like it will adapt well to an all-purpose gluten-free flour, which is all to the good since this cake looks AMAZING.

    • Carolyn

      Anna, I’m curious whether you tried your gluten-free version and how it turned out. In a similar boat. :-) Thanks!

    • Geraldine Adams

      Going to try this with Namaste all purpose GF cake mix. Don’t forget to add 1t of xanthan gum…just because!

  • Alicia*

    Perfect timing! I wanted something “different” for Thanksgiving dessert. I bet this would be good with a scoop of orange sorbet… And I like the option of greek yogurt or sour cream. Thanks Elise!