This simple cranberry orange upside-down cake is a must make. Made with fresh cranberries that are cooked down into a syrupy sweet jam for the topping and a soft buttery orange cake, this is one fabulous dessert.
Cranberry Orange Upside-Down Cake
Upside-down cakes are the easiest cake you can make. They don’t require frosting and you can enjoy them while they are warm and the topping is gooey. One of my favorite versions of this cake is my spiced apple upside-down cake. Try it if you get a chance.
It’s the time of year where we put cranberries in all the things like cranberry orange sweet rolls, cranberry white chocolate oatmeal cookies, and cranberry gingersnap cookie butter. So why not put them in cake as well?
The cake begins with butter, brown sugar, and fresh cranberries. Butter is melted in down with brown sugar in a shallow pan then poured over fresh cranberries. As the cake bakes the cranberries will cook down with sugar syrup to form a thick layer of jam.
On top of the cranberries goes a luscious orange cake batter. The cake is flavored with orange zest and fresh orange juice. The orange juice acts much like buttermilk in making the cake super moist.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for more details.
I’m certain you have made some version of an upside-down cake before. The first one I ever made was a classic pineapple upside-down cake. It used to be my favorite. The only cake I would eat for my birthday.
But now that I have a food blog, I enjoy experimenting with different versions. This cranberry orange upside-down cake is up there with the front-runner.
The topping reminds me of candied cranberries. It’s sweet but not overly sweet and there’s a slight tartness from the cranberries.
The printable recipe card with full ingredient amounts and instructions can be found at the bottom of this post.
I went a little light on the sugar. But I like the tartness of fresh cranberries. Feel free to add more sugar if you want it sweeter.
The cake is splendid. It’s light, airy, sweet, with intense orange flavor. You can use fresh or packaged orange juice, but don’t leave out the zest. It’s a necessity.
The eggs are separated and mixed in at different stages. The yolks go in when you normally add the eggs to the cake batter. Then the whites are whipped up into stiff peaks and folded into the batter at the very end.
This is a little tip I picked up from Cook’s Country. The whipped egg whites produce a tender yet sturdy cake.
When it comes to inverting the cake, don’t wait for it to cool completely before doing so. But don’t do it right out of the oven either.
It will be hot and you risk burning yourself with the fruit layer. Wait about 10 minutes. That seems to be the perfect amount of time for the topping to set but still release easily from the pan.
Cranberry Orange Upside-Down Cake
For the topping
- 2 cups (200 g) fresh cranberries
- 1/3 cup (75 g) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup (165 g) packed light brown sugar
- Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and lightly spray the paper with cooking spray.
Make the topping
- Arrange the cranberries evenly in the bottom of the pan; set aside.
- In a large nonstick pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the sugar and cook for 2 minutes. Pour evenly over the cranberries; set aside.
Make the cake
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir with a whisk. In a medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well mixed and fluffy.
- Beat in the orange zest and vanilla extract. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, until well combined.
- Reduce the speed to low, add half the flour mixture followed by the orange juice. Add the remaining flour mixture, mix until just incorporated.
- Add egg whites to a separate medium bowl. Using clean beaters, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold stiff peaks.
- Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Pour the batter over the cranberry mixture.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
- Run a knife around the cake to loosen it from the pan and invert it onto a serving plate. Gently peel off the parchment paper if it sticks to the top of the cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- The cake will keep for up to 2 days covered and stored in the refrigerator.