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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.

Inverted Cranberry Orange Upside Down Cake on a serving plate.

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.

2 slices of Cranberry Orange Upside Down Cake on plates.

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.

Brown Sugar Syrup Poured Over Fresh Cranberries

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.

Unbaked Cranberry Orange Upside Down Cake in Pan

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 for about 10 minutes. That seems to be the perfect amount of time for the topping to set but still release easily from the pan.

A slice of Cranberry Orange Upside Down Cake on a plate with a fork taking a bite out.

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Inverted Cranberry Orange Upside Down Cake on a serving plate.

Cranberry Orange Upside-Down Cake

Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

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. 

Ingredients

For the topping

  • 2 cups (200 g) fresh cranberries
  • ⅓ cup (75 g) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup (165 g) packed light brown sugar

For the cake

  • 1 ¼ cups (162 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup (75 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • ½ cup (124 ml) orange juice

Instructions

  1. 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

  1. Arrange the cranberries evenly in the bottom of the pan; set aside.
  2. 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

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. 
  2. 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. 
  3. Beat in the orange zest and vanilla extract. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, until well combined. 
  4. Reduce the speed to low, add half the flour mixture followed by the orange juice. Add the remaining flour mixture, mix until just incorporated.
  5. Add egg whites to a separate medium bowl. Using clean beaters, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold stiff peaks. 
  6. Fold ⅓ of the egg whites into the batter, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Pour the batter over the cranberry mixture. 
  7. 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. 
  8. 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.
  9.  The cake will keep for up to 2 days covered and stored in the refrigerator.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 106Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 58mgSodium: 137mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 4g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the values shown are just an estimate.

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Adapted from Cook’s Country.

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38 Comments

  1. Lydia Wohltman says:

    This is the third year I have made this delicious cake. It is a favorite of my expanded family. This cake is quick easy and not overly sweet – perfect! Makes a great gift!

  2. Christina Barber says:

    I made this last night for some friends of mine. Everyone loved it. It was perfectly bitter and sweet, thick but light, etc. The only thing I changed was I sliced oranges and put them with the cranberries.

  3. That looks like a wonderful cake and so versatile! Bet it’ll go great with any other fruit too!

  4. Love this upside down cake, Jen! It looks delicious and I love the gorgeous color! The cranberry and orange combo sounds just perfect!

  5. This is just so creative! Cranberry and orange is my favorite fall combo!

    1. It’s such a classic flavor combo. Thanks, Annie!

  6. Such pretty pictures Jen!! Just as Manali said, Pineapple upside down is my favorite also! Double yayy for cranberry season..:)

    1. I think pineapple is the best also! But it’s good to try something new once in a while. Thank you for the kind words!

  7. I absolutely love upside down cakes, I think they are the best. Pineapple is my favorite but this sounds fantastic as well! lovely flavors!

    1. Thanks Manali! I love pineapple too, but I’m always up for trying something different.

  8. I haven’t ever made an upside down cake though I’ve eaten a ton of them but, I’ve never seen one with as gorgeous a topping as this has! Love the cranberries and juice as the topping and the orange zest in the cake!

    1. Thanks, Shashi! They are so, so easy! You should give it a try.

  9. Orange and cranberries are a match made in heaven. What a great recipe. And the cranberry red is such a beautiful color. Very tempting!

    1. Thank you for the kind compliment, Amanda!