Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

11 Reviews
From: EatingWell Magazine November/December 2009

This rustic cake is a delicious alternative to pie and uses one of the tastiest fruits of the fall harvest—cranberries. The basic recipe is very versatile and can be made with apples, pears, peaches, plums or any full-flavored, slightly acidic fruit. Just arrange the fruit in the skillet before you pour the batter over it. The cake is best served warm; if you can, put it in the oven just before you sit down to dinner. Recipe adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters.

Ingredients 10 servings

for serving adjustment
Serving size has been adjusted!
Original recipe yields 10 servings
Nutrition per serving may change if servings are adjusted.
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, divided
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup fresh orange juice, divided
  • 1 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries (about 3 cups)
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (see Note)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature (see Tip)
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk, at room temperature
  • Whipped cream for garnish


  • Active

  • Ready In

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.
  2. Heat brown sugar, 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons orange juice in a large (12-inch) cast-iron or regular skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter melts and the mixture starts to bubble. Let cool. Coat the sides of the skillet with cooking spray.
  3. Bring the remaining 1/4 cup orange juice and cranberries to a simmer in a medium saucepan, stirring often, until about half the cranberries have popped. Pour evenly over the cooled brown sugar mixture in the skillet.
  4. Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  5. Separate egg whites and yolks. Place the yolks in a large bowl and add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, oil, granulated sugar and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer or stand mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Stir in the flour mixture alternately with milk, using a rubber spatula, starting and ending with the flour. Stir just until the flour is incorporated. Beat the egg whites in a clean dry mixing bowl with clean dry beaters on medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks. Fold one-third of the egg whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest until almost no white streaks remain. Spread the batter over the cranberries.
  6. Bake until the top is golden brown and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and carefully invert the cake onto a serving plate. Let cool for at least 30 minutes more before serving. Serve warm or room temperature. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired.
  • Ingredient Note: Whole-wheat pastry flour has less gluten-forming potential than regular whole-wheat flour and helps ensure tender baked goods. Find it in the baking section of the supermarket or online at and
  • Kitchen Tip: To bring an egg to room temperature, set it on the counter for 15 minutes or submerge it (in the shell) in a bowl of lukewarm (not hot) water for 5 minutes.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: 1 slice
  • Per serving: 356 calories; 13 g fat(4 g sat); 3 g fiber; 56 g carbohydrates; 4 g protein; 36 mcg folate; 50 mg cholesterol; 39 g sugars; 36 g added sugars; 259 IU vitamin A; 9 mg vitamin C; 95 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 182 mg sodium; 114 mg potassium
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 4
  • Exchanges: 4 other carbohydrate, 2 1/2 fat

Reviews 11

December 08, 2014
profile image
By: EatingWell User
Fabulous winter dessert! I especially love being able to bake this in an iron skillet. All 6 of my guests loved this and asked for the recipe. I'll definitely make I again, and might experiment with using different fruits or combinations of fruit. Add some pineapple to those cranberries? Or how about a blueberry upside down cake? Yum! Pros: Just the right combination of sweet and tart Cons: I may try to cut down the sugar in the cake next time, but can't think of anything else I'd change.
November 24, 2011
profile image
By: EatingWell User
So Good!! This was a favorite at my Thanksgiving dinner. I'm not much on baking, so glad I made this choice. I will make another for my Church gathering in December. You just can't mess this one good! Pros: Easy to prepare. Cons: Tip: Add toasted Walnuts for added crunch.
January 20, 2010
profile image
By: EatingWell User
Fantastic cake! Easy Recipe! And it takes substitutes vey well. I just wanted to bake something with some some leftover fruit and I had frozen blackberries, not cranberries. I made a couple of other changes because of what I had in the kitchen. I used only brown sugar - both in the sauce and in the cake; normal whole wheat flour not whole wheat pastry flour; limeade instead of orange juice; vegetable oil instead of canola oil; and whole milk powder instead of low fat milk. the cake was awesome and seriously hard to put down after the first slice. It also chills and microwaves nicely. One day I will try this cake exact to recipe. But for a recipe that allows you to use whatever is at hand and still get a good finish- this recipe is outstanding.
December 25, 2009
profile image
By: EatingWell User
This turned out good. Looks exactly like the picture. It'll be a good presentation for a family gathering. The cranberry's definitely tart, and the brown sugar helps. Putting a dollop of whipped cream on the cake also helps with the tartness.
December 20, 2009
profile image
By: EatingWell User
This is an amazing recipe! My mom isn't one to compliment my cooking, but she can't stop talking about this cake! It prepared/cooked just as the recipe said - and yes, it's better warm. I've done variations with pears & apples & they've turned out great. Next time I'm going to put walnuts in the sugar/butter mixture for more of a sticky-bun affect! I love Alice Waters and have the privilege to live very close to her restaurant in Berekely CA.
November 23, 2009
profile image
By: EatingWell User
Found this dessert addictive, bet you can't eat just ONE slice. Have already done variants, cran-apple and plum. Served the cran-apple with vanilla yogurt sauce spiked with cinnamon. My daughter wanted an easy recipe for Thanksgiving, so I sent it to her.
November 18, 2009
profile image
By: EatingWell User
Alice Waters and Eating Well have done it again! This is marvelous. A pre-holiday test run resulted in my guy eating 3/4 of it. Thanks for this great heirloom quality recipe.
November 15, 2009
profile image
By: EatingWell User
A lovely dessert for the holidays, not only is very tasty it is appealing to the eye. I did follow the recipe which is not my typical mode of operation. Next time I will toast some walnuts or pecans to add to the brown sugar mixture just before I put the cranberrries over it.
November 08, 2009
profile image
By: EatingWell User
I just made this tonight. I am new to baking and was not sure how it would turn out. I am pleased to say it came out great! The cake itself is so fluffy and light...delicious! I am making this to take to my mother's for Christmas Eve! Thanks, Eating Well!