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Cranberry Upside-Down Coffee Cake

November 18, 2009

I love cranberries. Love, love, love them. When the fresh ones are available in stores around Thanksgiving, I buy several bags to freeze for use later in the year. On top of that, I buy dried (unsweetened) cranberries year round to eat in everything from salads to my breakfast oatmeal. Something about their sweet tartness just makes my tastebuds sing.

Unfortunately for me, I live with a cranberry hater. My husband claims to hate cranberries. He makes faces whenever I cook with them. When I told him I was making coffee cake, he was excited – until I mentioned the cranberries.


But I made the coffee cake anyway, and guess what? He liked it! And I loved it.

The cake is moist, tender, and delicate, a perfect base for the tart cranberries. It smells fantastic, looks impressive, and tastes amazing. But best of all, it doesn’t have two sticks of butter like most coffee cake! Paired with a cup of coffee, it would make the perfect ending to a Thanksgiving feast or a nice light morning-after-the-feast breakfast. Don’t drink coffee? Try it with Earl Grey Tea – the citrus flavors in the tea bring out the orange flavor in the cake.

And don’t listen to your relatives that claim to hate cranberries. This cake is good enough it might just change their minds!


Cranberry Upside-Down Coffee cake

Adapted from Cooking Light
Makes 8-12 servings

If you have frozen fresh cranberries, no need to defrost them before making this recipe. If you don’t have a 9-inch round pan, you can also make it in a 9-inch square pan. Without the glaze this cake is fairly tart, but with it, it’s sweet enough to appeal to just about anyone.


Cooking spray
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened and divided
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
1/2 cup fat-free buttermilk

1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle in about 1 tablespoon of flour and shake around to evenly coat pan.

In a small bowl, combine cranberries, walnuts, and orange zest. Set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of orange juice, and cinnamon. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Pour sugar mixture into prepared pan and sprinkle evenly with the cranberry mixture. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Place 6 tablespoons of butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at medium speed until well combined. Beat in vanilla extract and egg. On low speed, alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk, starting and ending with flour mixture, until just combined. Spoon the (relatively thick) batter over the cranberry mixture in the prepared pan, and gently spread until even.

Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes (mine took 35), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5- 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges, then carefully invert onto a plate or cake stand. Cool completely.

For the glaze, combine sugar, melted butter and orange juice in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Drizzle over cake. Can be made a day ahead and stored, wrapped, at room temperature.

  1. November 18, 2009 2:46 pm

    That is just the prettiest coffee cake ever! I love how bright and festive it looks. Excellent photo and presentation too.

  2. November 19, 2009 1:04 pm

    wished i had some fresh cranberries! cake looks yummms:)

  3. November 21, 2009 12:28 am

    Oooh, I think your cranberry coffeecake recipe sounds a lot better than the one I made last week. Mine was good, but it was more coffeecake and less cranberry. Yours looks more balanced (plus I love anything glazed).

    I just wish I could find fresh cranberries at my grocery store, they seem to have every kind of weird fruit or vegetable in the world, but no cranberries. Guess I’ll just have to stock up on frozen ones for now.

    • November 21, 2009 12:30 am

      Erm, I really wish I could edit that to say “your” instead of “you’re”. Sigh. Long day…

      • The Craving Chronicles permalink*
        November 21, 2009 8:55 am

        I edited it for you. Better? :) I can’t believe your grocery store doesn’t have cranberries! I haven’t bought any yet this year (planning to this weekend), but I usually find them in the produce section near the lettuce and squash. Maybe your store just puts them in a weird place?

  4. oneordinaryday permalink
    November 21, 2009 5:39 pm

    That cake looks simply lovely. Perfect for a holiday brunch.

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