Sticky Sweet and Tart: Cranberry Orange Cake

Thanksgiving was full of good things to eat. A few favorites: my mom’s carrot puff and corn casserole, turkey, green beans and of course, dessert. This year I made a revised version of last year’s cranberry upsidedown cake. Sticky and sweet and tart and fresh. The addition of extra butter, orange juice and a sour cream glaze really kicked it up a notch. Rave reviews.

Cranberry Orange Upsidedown Cake with Vanilla Glaze



  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen whole cranberries (fresh float, frozen sink and make a bright red top to the cake…I learned this from last year)


  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp (plus more for buttering the pan)
  • 3 large eggs
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • fresh juice of 1 large orange (about 1/3 cup)


1 Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch diameter cake pan. Springform works well.

2 In a small saucepan, place the stick of butter and the 3/4 cups of packed brown sugar. On medium high heat, stir the sugar as the butter melts. Once the butter is melted and mixed in well with the sugar, stop stirring and let the mixture simmer for 15 seconds or so.

3 Pour the brown sugar butter mixture into the prepared cake pan. Spread the cranberries on top of the sugar butter mixture.

4 Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl vigorously whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.

5 In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until light. Add the sugar and beat together the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and orange zest.

6 Mix a third of the dry ingredients into the mixture. Beat in half of the sour cream and orange juice. Mix in another third of the dry ingredients.  Mix in the remaining sour cream. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients.

7 Pour batter over the cranberries in the cake pan, and smooth the surface. Place in the preheated oven and lower the heat from 350°F to 325°F. Bake until a tester comes out clean, 55 minutes to an hour. Cool cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a blunt knife around the inside rim of the cake pan to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Then turn the cake out onto a platter. Glaze when cool if desired.

Easy Vanilla Sour Cream Glaze

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbs powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbs milk (or orange juice?)
  • Vanilla

Whisk together in a bowl, adjusting ingredients as needed until desired consistency.


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