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Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

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.


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Reviews (10 reviews)

  • Olivia_May | 02/06/2018

    This is an amazing cake -- easy and delicious. Made it exactly as written.

  • Marion Klein | 01/03/2018

    I followed the directions but it was a huge failure because the brown sugar and butter should have been cooked until a syrup. The recipe needs to be corrected as mine turned out with hard brown sugar all over the top. What a disaster.

  • ALBMom | 11/27/2017

    This was so delicious. Made it this evening and it turned out great. Thanks for the great tips from the reviewers - didn't use the wooden spoon. Cake was moist and cranberries had the perfect balance of tart and sweetness. Definitely will make it again at the holidays!

  • laurgrs | 11/19/2017

    I'm not sure why more people haven't reviewed and made this amazing dessert. I made it for a dinner party and everyone raved about it. It's DIVINE and perfect for this time of year. The cake was moist and flavorful and the cranberry topping with brown sugar was delicious. Not too sweet, not to tart, just right. I did read other suggestions and put the butter and sugar in a food processor to mix. The rest I mixed in a bowl as directed. This is a keeper.

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