Cranberry Citrus Upside Down Cake

Merry Christmas Eve!  I think this is a perfect time of year to make a cake, especially a cake to celebrate Jesus' birth.  This may not be the typical birthday cake, but  it is a lovely reflection of seasonal fruits.   Cranberry citrus upside down cake is not quite as sweet as the classical pineapple upside down cake, but still offers a pleasing sweetness to balance the tartness of the fresh cranberries and lemons.  For an additional boost of sweetness, top the cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream; it is so delicious and hard to stop at just one slice!

I'm going to keep today's post short, in honor of Christmas.  I pray that you have an enjoyable day with your family and friends! Happy Birthday Jesus!

"Today your Savior was born in the town of David.  He is Christ the Lord...Then a large group of angels proclaimed, ' Give glory to God in heaven, and on earth let there be peace among the people who please God." Luke 2:11,14 


CLICK HERE for a printer friendly recipe.  Make one 9 inch cake.

Ingredients for Cranberry Citrus Upside Down Cake

  • 12 oz (1 bag) of fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 orange, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 9 Tbsp butter, unsalted (1 Tbsp for pan, 4 Tbsp for topping, 4 Tbsp for cake)
  • 1/2 and 3/4 cup granulated sugar ( 1/2 cup for candied lemon and 3/4 cup for cake)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 180 g (1.5 cups) cake flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature

Directions for Cranberry Citrus Upside Down Cake

  1. Rinse and pat dry cranberries.  Check for stems and remove.  *Reserve about a half cup if wanting to make sparkling sugared cranberries for garnish. 

  2. Using a mandolin slice or knife, thinly slice the orange and lemon.  Remove the peel from the oranges only.  Place orange and lemon slices on a paper towel to remove excess moisture. 

  3.  Candied the lemons: in a small saucepan, add 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup granulated sugar.  Heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves.  Add slices of lemon.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 to 8 minutes until lemon peels become soft and translucent.  Remove lemons and place onto parchment paper until cool.  *Reserve the sugar water if sugar coating cranberries for garnish.  Allow the water to cool for 3-5 minutes before using to coat the cranberries.

  4. Prepare cake pan: Using 1 Tbsp of butter, generously rub the sides and bottom of a cake pan.  Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper cut into a circle.  

  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with rack in the center.

  6. Arrange alternating slices of orange and candied lemon into the bottom of the prepared cake pan.  Place one layer of fresh cranberries on top of the citrus. 

  7. Prepare cake batter: In a medium bowl, place flour, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk together.  In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream 4 Tbsp of butter with 3/4 cups granulated sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg, vanilla, and ginger; mix until well combined.  In 3 portions, alternate adding the milk and the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture.  Beat until well combined.  Set aside. 

  8. In a small saucepan, place 3/4 cup of brown sugar and 4 Tbsp of butter.  Heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves, stirring often.  Once the sugar and butter caramelizes, stop stirring and allow to simmer about 15-30 seconds to thicken the mixture.

  9. Pour caramel sauce over the arranged oranges, lemons, and cranberries.  Pour the remaining cranberries (*excluding the fresh cranberries for garnish) into the pan and caramel sauce.  Pour the cake batter over the fruit and caramel sauce.  Smooth top of the batter.  Place on a foil lined baking sheet.

  10. Bake for 60-65 minutes.  Cake should be golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.  Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 10-20 minutes.  Use a knife around the edge to loosen the cake.  Invert cake pan onto a serving platter with a rimmed edge.  

To make sparkling sugar cranberries: place about 1/2 cup of cleaned and dried cranberries into a bowl.  Pour the sugared water (see step #3) over the cranberries allowing the berries to be completely submerged.  Soak the cranberries for 30 minutes.  Drain the cranberries.  Return cranberries to a clean bowl.  Sprinkle a 1/2 cup of granulated sugar over the soaked cranberries.  Toss gently to cover all the cranberries.  Allow to dry on small slotted wire rack or lay out on a baking sheet in a single layer for at least one hour.