Alice Waters’s Cranberry Upside-Down Cake Recipe (2024)



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Turn the oven on. Put the butter and the sugar in the pan you plan to cook the cake in. Put it in the oven. After about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the heat the oven has reached, stir the butter and sugar, to make sure they are well mixed. Let the pan remain cooking until the sugar starts to lose its graininess, and the mixture is turning into a caramel. While this process is going on, you can begin steps 3 and 4.

Lynda H.

This recipe was updated/corrected in Waters's "The Art of Simple Food." The updated recipe is here: I used a 9-inch pan; corrected recipe says 8-inch (my cake rose to the top of the pan). I used 1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice + 1 tsp. Meyer lemon zest in the topping--wonderful. Another good check for cakes: an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 195°F to 205°F (thanks Rose Levy Beranbaum).


You could also beat the egg whites first and then start creaming the butter, etc. as directed in Step 4. As long as everything's measured out and you don't get interrupted the whites should still be holding their stiff peaks and good to go for folding into the batter.

Also, separate the eggs as soon as you get them out of the refrigerator. It's easier to separate them. You get more volume when they've had a chance to come to room temperature.


This recipe has been shared on the Lottie & Doof site for some time and so I've now made it many many times. It's one of my all time favorite cake recipes and can be adapted for all kinds of fruit for every season (one of the best was made with black apricots in the early summer). Follow all the steps, the time I tried to save time it was not nearly as good!


I found that without cooking the cranberries first the extra moisture made the center of the cake soggy as it cooled. When you search the Web for other versions of this cake the directions state to first cook the cranberries until they pop. Wish I did this. Next time I will.


For us baking novices ... If you will be using the same beaters for steps 4 and 5, make sure you clean the mixer beaters thoroughly before you beat the egg whites, or they will not rise.


Made the cake yesterday, and baked for 30 minutes--not fully cooked, has anyone else had this problem?


This cake is perfect as is. I would not alter the recipe. It's light and buttery and delicious. I have been making it for years and usually serving it with cinnamon-flavored whipped cream.


I made two adjustments to this recipe...first, I used leftover cranberry sauce (a Melissa Clark recipe) instead of fresh berries, for the base and used less sugar and butter. Second, I used Earth Balance vegan butter to accomodate my lactose-intolerant daughter. The cake baked in 40 minutes, popped out of the pan beautifully, and is delicious. I think orange zest would be a great addition to the batter.


Great recipe with perfect results if you don’t skip Step 6.


Most cakes are at their best if eaten on the day they're baked. So, why not prepare everything—everything—the day before, cover with plastic wrap (with no air between cake and wrap) and refrigerate the day before. Then, on the morning you bake, take out of the refrigerator (first thing) and let warm to room temperate, preheat the oven as directed, and bake. (Give cake an extra 5 minutes if it is not fully at room temp. when it goes into the oven, but use a cake tester—always!)


I think you need new guests! I would never insult someone's effort at a dinner party unless pointedly asked for a critique.


Do not use a spring form cake pan, the juices escape from the sides. Will do it again with a closed pan. But came out delicious nonetheless.


The first time I made this I used a 9 inch pie plate. The middle was still liquid after 30 minutes. Second time I used a 9 inch bundt pan for 35 minutes. It baked evenly and was a beautiful cranberry crown.


The directions state to preheat the oven first and then add the brown sugar mixture and cook until the sugar carmelizes - this in done in your cake pan in the oven.

My cake was perfectly cooked through after 35 minutes. It was nicely browned and was just starting to pull away from the pan. This is a perfect cake 15 minutes after it comes out of the oven served warm with a dallop of whipped cream. Now I'm ready to start my day! Love the bright red cranberries and the soft white cake combo


Has anyone tried this with rehydrated dried cranberries? I have a huge bag I’d love to use up


This was a bit of a pain to make. Surprisingly making the caramel was the easy bit since you just dump it on the oven and use brown sugar. The dough was super sticky and annoying and hard to mix in the egg whites. I skipped cream of tartar. We ate it with ice cream. Used recommended amount of sugar and that was good coz the cranberries were tart.


I make this cake for Christmas every year. It is absolutely delicious and beautiful for serving. I always second guess whether my butter and brown sugar have successfully caramelized or not, but it honestly does not matter - the cake comes out perfectly every time! It always takes at least 45 minutes to bake, but I just start checking it around 35 mins and keep adding time as needed. Recipe calls for 9oz of cranberries, but I always use the full 12oz bag and never had an issue.


I have made this cake several times over the years. It takes around 40 minutes of baking in my oven to be done. I strongly advise that you test the cake by inserting a toothpick in the center before removing the entire cake! Do this no sooner than 30 minutes in. When the toothpick comes out with no batter, just some crumbs, the cake is done. Optional: Add a tiny smidge of purple gel food coloring to the batter. It whitens the cake, which imho is pretty.


I used a standard 9" cake pan; the batter overflowed. Took an extra 15 minutes to bake. Will try a 9" pan with higher sides next time.


Great recipe *but* the baking time is completely wrong. It will need at least 45 min, if not closer to an hour - at 30 min the center is basically pudding. Test with a knife and whenever it’s done, it’s done.


Delicious! I followed the recipe and really had no problems. I compared to the other version of the recipe mentioned in the notes to make sure I wasn't missing anything-seemed really similar. I appreciated the note about checking internal temperature-I baked for almost 45 mins to get to the 195-205 temp. I used a 9 inch cake pan


Thank you, Alice. It's delicious and worth every step.


Lovely cake texture, cranberry tartness goes well with it. Directions could be better. Sugar mixture bubbled, still granular. Turned out but wish better description of color, time. Cake browned, cooked full length of time but soupy in middle. Needed 20 min more. Will use thermometer next time. Will make again though


What temp should the cake read done? Thanks.

Mrs Cleaver

I threw in the whole 12 ounce bag of cranberries and am experiencing regret. Overflowed my pan and spilled in the oven. Don’t do what I did.


I made this with leftover pomegranates seeds. The crunch from the seeds is fun. The cake batter was thick, so I was worried for the result, but it turned out spongey and delicious. I used 1/2 the sugar in the topping and substituted Greek yogurt for butter in the batter. The cake needed 40 minutes to bake but turned out sweet, moist, and yummy.


Correction: I used all the butter called for in the topping part of the recipe, though none in the batter.


Can frozen cranberries be used and if so, do they have to be defrosted before use?

Sara G

This cake is so lovely. A super tender crumb, simple and elegant, with a nice little bite from the cranberries; serving it with whipped cream makes it all the more glorious.An absolute stunner, without being fussy. What more could you ask for? (I’d call this is a year-round dessert—but it sure was pretty at the holidays!)


Upped the cranberries to 14 oz and added orange zest to the orange juice mix and dried orange peel to the batter. Also whipped the egg whites first (after prepping everything ahead of time) to save time and dishes. The increase in cranberries and extra orange flavor made this cake deliciously sticky and tangy -- perfect for our tastes. Did need to bake longer -- about an hour -- to get up to 200 degrees F internal temperature.

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Alice Waters’s Cranberry Upside-Down Cake Recipe (2024)


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