Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

Cranberries are wonderful. They are tart to start with, but transform beautifully with any kind of sweetener you can think of. They are bright and red and festive when fresh, and deep and rich when cooked. They are one of my favorite additions to baked goods, be it muffins, pies, breads, or in this case, cakes! (Oh, and they are good for you too!)

As soon as this recipe was posted over at Smitten Kitchen, I knew I’d have to make it. It had all the things I love about cranberries! And, with that ingredient list, how could it not be delicious? I was even ready to give the molasses a try (don’t skip it! it’s great!). Being a single gal with a waistline to keep intact, I choose to delay my baking gratification until I had an occasion to share some of the calorie-laden goodness. A casual family dinner on a Sunday night was the perfect place to debut this every day sort of cake. It was the perfect finish (with some tea) to a dinner of roasted chicken and veggies, a quinoa salad, and some red wine.

You could make this cake for any occasion! It’s not a fancy layered birthday cake, or so rich that it needs an introduction. It would be at home brought out with a nice brunch just much as it would at the end of a simple dinner (and, let me tell you, a slice of it with a cup of coffee is a wonderful breakfast on a rainy morning). What I’m trying to say is you don’t need a special day to make this. Just some cranberries that you’ve got stashed away in your freezer and some help to eat it. Which is exactly what I had, so this cake got made.

Speaking of cranberries in freezers, buy a few extra bags now (while they are in season and on sale for Thanksgiving) and stick them in your freezer. After the holidays, you’ll be happy to have these tart berries around to enhance your baking all year!


Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

makes one 9″ cake to serve 10 -12, from Smitten Kitchen

  • 1/2 stick (4 Tbsp.) butter
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tbsp. molasses
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp.) butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 generous cups cranberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat the oven to 375ºF, and butter a 9″ round cake pan.

In a medium saucepan, melt 1/2 a stick of butter. Add the brown sugar, molasses, and water and bring to a boil, stirring nearly constantly. Pour into prepared pan and set aside while you make the cake batter.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and grated nutmeg.

In the work bowl of your stand mixer, beat eggs and sour cream on medium speed until well blended. Add the melted butter and almond extract, and stir to combine. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix on low until fully incorporated and batter is smooth.

Pour the cranberries into the pan with the molasses mixture. Press them down a bit and create an even layer of cranberries in the bottom of the pan. Pour the batter on top of the cranberries and spread it evenly in the pan, being carful not to displace the berries.

Bake until the top is golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Mine took about an hour, but be sure to check yours sooner. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan and invert it over a serving plate.

Serve warm with whipped cream.

P.S. – If you wanted to make this cake with even more cranberry goodness, use 3 cups of berries and a 10″ cake pan! I made it as described above, but more cranberries seems like a good thing. Just be sure to use the larger pan because, as you can see, this cake JUST FIT into a standard 9″ pan.

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