Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Slice of Cranberry Upside Down Cake FI 2

5 from 1 reviews

What a beautiful dessert to wow at your next holiday party! Cranberries add a festive touch to the classic upside down cake. The cake itself is buttery and really moist, thanks to loads of brown sugar syrup.



Cranberry Layer

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (½ stick)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • Pinch of fine salt


  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar (light or dark)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (scooped and leveled)
  • ⅔ cup milk, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°
  2. Line the bottom of a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper. Grease the bottom and sides of the pan with butter or nonstick spray, set aside.
  3. To prepare the fruit layer, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet set over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup water and pinch of salt. Stir to combine. Once the sugar begins to dissolve, add the cranberries. 
  4. Stir the mixture frequently until the cranberries start to pop and soften, about 3 - 4 minutes. (Be careful, there may be a bit of splatter when the berries start to pop!) To avoid burning the sugar, turn the heat down to medium low if necessary.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the sugar syrup to stop bubbling. Then, remove the cranberries from the pan with a slotted spoon and place in the prepared pan in an even layer. 
  6. Place the pan back on medium heat, and allow the sugar mixture to continue reducing in the pan for another 3 - 4 minutes, or until syrupy. Stir frequently and watch the pan to avoid burning the sugar, turn the heat down if necessary. Once the syrup has reduced, pour on top of the fruit in an even layer.
  7. To make the cake batter, cream together the 8 tablespoons softened butter with the 1/4 cup packed brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a large bowl. (See notes.) Whisk in the eggs, one at a time.
  8. Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder in a separate bowl. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients gradually, alternating with the milk. Whisk in the vanilla. Continue whisking just until the batter is smooth, but do not overmix.
  9. Pour batter on top of the cranberries, spreading gently to the edges of the pan. 
  10. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Wait 10 minutes before turning over onto a cake stand or plate.


I used a wooden spoon to cream together the butter and sugar, then switched to a whisk to finish making the cake batter. If the butter is at room temperature, this should be easy to do. However, if you like, you can use a hand mixer instead.

Make sure the eggs, butter (for the cake), and milk are all at room temperature, otherwise the cake batter may split.

The parchment paper is really important here, it is extra insurance that none of the beautiful cranberry top will stick to the pan. If you don't have parchment paper, use extra care to apply lots of butter or oil to the pan!

The cake tastes best the day it is made, but can be stored, covered in the fridge, for 2 - 3 days.

Keywords: upside down cake, cranberry cake, cranberry upside down cake