Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

with a lemon glaze

I feel like 2016 started off pretty okay and ended in total disaster. I had a lot of good things happen to me personally this year, but I really feel like the horrible things that have happened plus the cherry on top of Trump being elected president have really overshadowed anything else. Oh yeah, and the passing of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds? I have no words for that. BUT I will say that I’m energized to make 2017 a year where change happens, where progress happens, and where I do not sit back and assume that the right thing or the good thing will happen because it seems like the logical choice. Clearly that’s not how the world works. Again, you can find great places to donate here, read about some causes near and dear to my own heart here, or just do a little research and find an organization that speaks to you. Don’t let 2017 be another year of complacency. I was all too happy to sit back in 2016 and not do enough because I lived in a bubble where the things I wanted to happen happened and I didn’t think enough outside of that. But instead of wallowing or writing a think piece on Medium or whatever else, I am going to donate, volunteer, speak loudly, and make sure that this Trump bullshit does not become normalized. And to everyone who has commented, emailed, or reached out in some capacity to talk about this with me: thank you. Thank you so much. It warms the very cockles of my cold, black heart and gives me hope for the future. Thanks for continuing to read and continuing to be a source of inspiration for me every day.

cranberry upside down cake

Later, 2016.

But, personally, on an individual level, yes, there were a few shining moments in 2016. I started working as a video producer for INSIDER, to start. I get to go to restaurants and kitchens all over New York and film chefs and entrepreneurs doing what they do best, then share those videos with the world. It’s pretty awesome. I travelled a ton, from Thailand to China to Japan, to Austin and Houston, to Denver and Phoenix and Virginia Beach, to San Francisco and Los Angeles, and probably a few other small trips that I’m forgetting. 2017 has a lot more of travel in store, including Vietnam and Singapore (!!!). We also want to go visit my brothers in Atlanta and Cincinnati, maybe hit up Canada and Seattle, we still have to check out Chicago (as adults, I lived there as a kid)…there are so many places I want to go and definitely not enough time! But I’ll get there. I want to keep getting better at my job and keep making videos and, of course, keep this blog going. It’s where I get to go to be me, to share my photos, to talk about issues that matter to me, and interact with tons of people that I wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to connect with. This is the eighth year I’ve been maintaining Crepes of Wrath, and I definitely don’t plan on stopping any time soon!

cranberry upside down cake

Oh, and quickly, yeah, there’s this cake. I bought two giant tubs of cranberries in December, hence why you get two cranberry recipes in a row. But I’ve got to say, this cake was insanely delicious. I put it out on Christmas Day when some friends came over after a dinner of spicy Sichuan food, and we all ate it up. By the end of the night, it was totally gone. It takes a little extra effort, because you’ve got to whip the egg whites separately from the egg yolks, and you’ve got to caramelize the sugar before adding it to the cranberries, but all in, it’s worth it. The cake is impossibly fluffy, but still wonderfully rich. The cranberries pop in your mouth with each bite, and I added a quick lemon glaze over the top to make it look a little more wintry. Why not? We’re not counting calories in the last days of the year, are we? That’s for 2017. For now, I’m going to have a piece of cake and a glass of champagne and tell 2016 that it’s been real. I hope you’ll do the same.

cranberry upside down cake
The extended fam on Thanksgiving.

cranberry upside down cake
Sibling + husband fam on Thanksgiving.

cranberry upside down cakecranberry upside down cake
So this recipe was interesting in that it suggested letting the butter and sugar caramelize in the oven while it preheated instead of doing it on the stove. I found this to be more trouble than it was worth (i.e. having to open and close the open constantly and put oven mitts on to get the pan and stir), but you can do as you please.

cranberry upside down cake
Once the sugar and butter has caramelized and cooled, toss the cranberries and orange juice with it and set aside.

cranberry upside down cake
Spread your cake batter over the top and bake until golden and set.

cranberry upside down cake
It’s a cake!

cranberry upside down cake
A bunch of us couldn’t stop eating this, honestly.

cranberry upside down cakecranberry upside down cake
See you next year!

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-12 slices
A super fluffy, super delicious upside down cake with a quick lemon glaze.
For the Cranberries:
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 9 ounces (2⅔ cups) fresh cranberries (I used about 12 ounces of cranberries in my cake)
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
For the Cake:
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
For the Glaze:
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. In an 8 or 9-inch round cake pan (I used an extra-deep 8-inch round), add 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter and ¾ cup of brown sugar. Place in the hot oven and let melt together, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until the sugar is mostly dissolved and has started to caramelize a bit, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit. Toss the cranberries in your orange juice, then add them to the pan and toss with the brown sugar mixture. Set aside. Reduce the heat of your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of your mixer, beat together your butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add in your vanilla mix. Add in your egg yolks (reserving the whites in another bowl) one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add in your milk alternating with the flour mixture, starting and ending with the flour, beating until just moistened. Place the batter in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Clean out your mixing bowl and add in your egg whites and cream of tartar. Whisk until the whites have reached very soft peaks and are able to stand a bit on their own, about 5 minutes or so (you don't want them to become stiff peaks). Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the cake batter in three batches, being careful not to overmix. Once finished, gently spread the batter on top of the cranberries. Bake until golden brown and set, and the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 40-45 minutes. Let the cake cool for 30 minutes or so before inverting onto a plate.
  4. When the cake has cooled a bit more, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice. If you'd like the glaze to be thicker or thinner, adjust the amount of sugar or juice you're using. Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze over the cake, and serve. This will keep well, covered and at room temperature, for up to 2 days, then covered and refrigerated for an additional 2 days.


7 Responses

  1. Hina says:

    I made this recipe last week. A fatal mistake I made by trusting the recipe was not greasing/parchment papering the bottom of the pan. Were you saved from this?

    • Sydney says:

      Yeah, I actually initially had parchment in the pan but it was too much of a pain in the ass to try to mix the butter/brown sugar on top of the parchment, so I took it out. I did have one or two cranberries stick to the pan, but I just pushed them back into the top. I think there’s a sweet spot when you invert it, like if it’s too warm it’ll fall apart, and if it’s too cold it’ll stick. Do you know how long you waited before inverting it? Just curious! I’m sorry you had trouble with it!

  2. Gerry says:

    Still complaining about the election, Sydney?

    You democrats haven’t been this mad since the republicans took your slaves away many years ago.

    Stop buying into all the propaganda. Hilary and her ilk (it’s a big word so look it up) are the ones who want to pigeonhole people, keep them in their place and make them subservient to the almighty government benefit.

    Give Trump a chance to do some good that you never would have seen from Hilary or any other democrat (save Bernie, perhaps).

    Good recipe, though.

  3. Sydney, yes on the Trump stuff. Still holding back the devastated tears there. And thank you for the recipe. I have two bags of cranberries in the freezer. Taking one out now to make this cake. I do believe it will lift the spirits. Thank you! Just love your blog to bits, btw! Happy New Year!

  4. Sabrina B. says:

    this cake looks wonderfully fluffy and a nice touch with cranberries, even after the holidays, thank you for sharing this recipe!

  5. Kamal says:

    Hi Sydney, great blog you have here. Do you think i could use dried cranberries for this as we don’t get fresh or frozen where i live.

    • Sydney says:

      I would perhaps use a different fruit – the dried ones won’t really come out the same way, but peaches or apples or plums would be good! I’m glad you like the blog.

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