Sweet and moist olive oil cake topped with tangy leftover cranberry sauce, this cranberry upside down cake makes an easy dessert when entertaining over the holidays. Find more olive oil cake recipes here.
Did you know that leftover cranberry sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks? This is because cranberries are highly acidic, which discourages bacteria growth. So odds are, you have some cranberry sauce leftover from Thanksgiving in your refrigerator right now.
I’m sure you’ve had your fill of leftover turkey sandwiches. Or perhaps you made turkey noodle soup? Turkey quesadillas? You have plenty of ideas of what to do with leftover turkey, but what should you do with the leftover cranberry sauce?
Why is this recipe so great?
I have already shared my Leftover Cranberry Sauce Scones – oh so delicious. And today I am sharing another delight. Two classic flavor combinations, orange and cranberry, come together in this very moist cranberry upside down cake.
Upside down cakes are super easy to whip up. And that little bit of effort yields a really beautiful dessert. And since we are all entertaining or going to holiday potlucks this time of year, this easy holiday dessert is a winner.
Any leftover cranberry sauce will work for this cake. I used my leftover Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce. It’s my family’s favorite. Don’t use canned pomegranate jelly as it doesn’t have fruit and will just turn your cake into a watery mess.
The cake is baked in a simple cast iron pan, so no fancy equipment is required. Cast iron retains the heat evenly, so your baked goods turn out perfect.
Ingredients you need
- Butter: This bit of butter is melted on the bottom of the cast iron pan and mixed with the brown sugar and fruit. It adds tremendous flavor. You can use salted or unsalted butter.
- Brown Sugar: You can use light or dark brown sugar. Because brown sugar has molasses in it, it makes a beautiful syrup for the fruit to simmer in.
- Leftover Cranberry Sauce: Any of your favorite cranberry sauce can be used.
- Plain Greek Yogurt: Most of my cakes are made with yogurt. It helps keep your cakes moist and beautiful. If you do not have yogurt, you can also use sour cream.
- Orange juice and zest: Orange and cranberries pair wonderfully together and add a fabulous citrus note to the cake.
- Extra virgin olive oil: I bake my cakes exclusively with olive oil. Choose a mild flavored olive oil, not a peppery one. You can also use an orange infused olive oil. You can learn about how to bake with olive oil here.
- Eggs: A must for cakes. I use large eggs for all of my baking.
- Pantry staples: All purpose flour, baking powder, salt, granulated sugar
Step-by-step recipe directions
1. Using a 9-inch cast iron skillet, heat over medium-high heat and melt the butter. Stir in the brown sugar.
2. When the sugar is dissolved and bubbly, spread it evenly on the bottom of the pan and spread the cranberry sauce over it.
3. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
4. In a large bowl, mix together sugar and olive oil until fluffy. Mix in yogurt, orange juice, orange zest, olive oil and eggs until combined.
5. In batches, mix flour mixture into yogurt mixture and stir until combined.
6. Slowly pour cake batter evenly over the cranberry sauce in your cast iron pan.
7. Place cake in an oven preheated to 350ºF and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
8. Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Run a knife blade along the sides of the cake to insure a clean removal.
9. Place serving plate over the cast iron skillet and carefully invert the cake. Keep the skillet on the plate until the cake falls into the plate.
10. Remove skillet and allow cake to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour before serving
Expert Tips and Recipe FAQS
Upside down cakes are an easy way to bake with seasonal fruit and create a beautiful cake. All without a piping bag and no fancy baking skills required!
- When baking cakes, do not over mix the batter once the flour is mixed in. You want to mix it until just incorporated, otherwise your cake will be dense.
- Serve your upside down cake alone, with whipped cream or top with vanilla ice cream.
- Cast iron pans are great vessels for baking any upside down cake because they retain heat so well and go from stove top to the oven easily.
Flipping your cast iron too soon can cause the fruit to separate from the cake. So be sure to let the baked cake rest in the pan for 10-15 minutes before flipping. Run a butter knife along the outside edge of the cake before flipping. Once flipped, let the pan sit over the flipped cake for a few minutes until the cake is released.
Baking is a chemistry project. You need to have just the right amount of moisture in your cake batter without it turning into a soggy cake. Baking with yogurt yields a very moist cake. Baking with sour cream yields the same result.
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Orange Cranberry Upside Down Cake
Sweet and moist orange cake topped with tangy leftover cranberry sauce, this Orange Cranberry Upside Down Cake makes an easy dessert when entertaining over the holidays.
- 2 TBS unsalted butter
- 2 TBS light brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup leftover cranberry sauce
- 1 ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup thick plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 TBS orange zest
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Using a 9-inch cast iron skillet, heat over medium-high heat and melt butter.
- When butter is bubbling and just starts to brown, stir in brown sugar.
- Cook until sugar has dissolved into the butter and starts to melt, then remove from heat. Spread sugar mixture evenly across the bottom of the pan.
- Remove pan from heat and gently spread leftover cranberry sauce evenly over the brown sugar.
- In a medium-sized bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
- In a large bowl, mix together sugar, yogurt, orange juice, orange zest, olive oil and eggs until combined.
- In batches, mix flour mixture into yogurt mixture and stir until combined.
- Pour cake batter evenly over the cranberry sauce in your cast iron pan.
- Place cake in the oven and cook for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan.
- Run a knife blade along the sides of the cake to insure a clean removal.
- Place serving plate over the cast iron skillet and carefully invert the cake. Keep the skillet on the plate until the cake falls into the plate.
- Remove skillet and allow cake to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour before serving.
Cooking Tips: Thick Greek yogurt, like the Fage brand, is used in this recipe. If you do can not find thick yogurt, drain your regular yogurt with a cheese cloth or coffee filter until it becomes thick like sour cream.
Serving Size:1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 327Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 130mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 1gSugar: 27gProtein: 5g
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This recipe is a very good way to use leftover cranberry sauce or relish. The cake is deliciously moist with a nice contrast between the sour taste of the cranberries (and a few kumquats that I threw in as well) and the sweetness of the brown sugar mixture. I did need to double the quantity of the brown sugar mixture to obtain sufficient coverage. On a related topic, I appreciate the author’s explanation of why certain ingredients or processes are necessary.
Thank you for your kind words. I’m so glad you liked the cake. It really is quite tasty!
Have a wonderful holiday-
I love cranberry and orange together; it’s such a great combination of bright citrus and tart berries. I still have never made an upside down cake, but this looks so good I may have to!
These photos are gorgeous and the dessert, YES PLEASE!
I bet this tastes wonderful
This looks SO tasty!!! I will be heading on over to check out your site and attempt to duplicate it. Great picture.