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Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

Featured in our 2017 Christmas Guide
Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields one 9-inch round cake.

Servings: 12

This humble, comforting cake is a natural for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to make it.


  • 1/2 lb. (1 cup) very soft unsalted butter; more  for the pan
  • 1 cup very firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen (thawed, rinsed, and dried), at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 7 oz. (1-3/4 cups) cake flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda


  • Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan with sides at least 2-1/2  inches high. (A springform pan will work; just be sure to set it on a  foil-lined baking sheet to catch any leaks.)
  • Put 4 Tbs. of the butter in the buttered pan. Put the pan in the oven until the butter melts, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and stir in the brown sugar and cinnamon until well combined. Spread the brown sugar mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan and spread the cranberries evenly over the sugar.
  • Put the remaining 12 Tbs. butter in a medium bowl. Using a wooden spoon, cream the butter with the granulated sugar and egg yolk until blended, about 20 seconds. Switch to a whisk and stir in the eggs one at a time. Whisk until the batter is smooth and the sugar begins to dissolve, about 30  seconds. Whisk in the sour cream, vanilla, and salt. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and baking soda directly onto the batter. Using the whisk, combine the ingredients until the mixture is smooth and free of  lumps.
  • Spread the batter evenly over the cranberry mixture in the cake pan. Bake until the center of  the cake springs back when gently touched and a skewer inserted in the center comes out with only moist crumbs clinging to it, 50 to 65  min. Set the pan on a rack to cool for 5  to 10  minutes (the cranberry syrup in the bottom of the pan will be too thick if you wait longer). Run a knife between the cake and sides of the pan. Invert the cake onto a serving plate and remove the pan. Let cool for at least 15 min. more before serving. This cake is best served warm and fresh.


Give the butter plenty of time to warm up. You can tell your butter is soft enough if it squishes when poked lightly with a finger.


Rate or Review


  • butterscotch | 01/19/2014

    I completely loved this cake. I've tried many similar cranberry cake recipes, and this is the best--hands down. The plain cake portion is particularly nice, very moist and stays that way without refrigeration for at least a week after baking. My only quibbles are with the directions which are unnecessarily labor-intensive and too "unplugged" for my taste. Forget all that beating with a wooden spoon. You can save time and effort by creaming the butter and sugar in your food processor and using it to mix in the other wet ingredients. I'd also suggesting baking in a spring-form pan wrapped tightly with foil. The spring-form pan will help with unmolding the cake, and the foil wrap will keep any leaked juices from burning.

  • brenda312 | 12/14/2013

    I love this cake and my friends love it too! We've been enjoying it since 2010.

  • SuBee618 | 01/05/2012

    This is a HOMERUN!! Have made it dozens of times and given the recipe to many. Never fails. Is very forgiving. Could use any fruit. The cake flavor is dee-lish!! I do usually cover it with foil the last few minutes of baking so it doesn't get too brown. This could be my ovens issue tho and not the recipe.

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