Cranberry Amaretto Upside-Down Cake {vegan}



I was talking to my cousin who lives in the UK, and she told me a shocking fact: they might not have canned pumpkin in stores there. They have whole, real pumpkin-pumpkins, the kinds with stems and skins and all that, but no “solid pack pumpkin” like all our American recipes call for. At least, she’s never noticed it in the store.

“We don’t have Thanksgiving,” she said.


Okay, I know that, even if I don’t think about it very often, but pumpkins aren’t only about Thanksgiving are they? Maybe they are.


I’ll admit, I had to warm up to pumpkin. I used to find it completely detestable. I associated the fanciest chai-pumpkin-cinnamon-nutmeg-spice-chai-seasonal-spice lattes with that gloopy, slimy, orange goo that sticks to the back of your forearm when you scoop out the center of a jack-o-lantern. When I realized pumpkin is all about the spices that go along with it, I finally started to appreciate the gourd in all it’s gourdiness.

Why am I talking about learning to love pumpkin? Because when I realized that Americans and pumpkins go together because of Thanksgiving, I started to think about all the other food traditions I associate with certain holidays. Foods that I love and have no conflicting feelings about. Like cranberries.

Now, cranberries…I can get on board with that. Not to be a pumpkin hater, but think of how many delicious things we could have if the world the United States had as much passion for cranberries as they do for pumpkins. You (probably) can’t carve them, but think about the untapped well of cranberry recipes out there.

Cranberry Cookies – Could be good.
Cranberry Spice Latte – I’d try it.
Cranberry Muffins – Sounds epic.
Cranberry Chai Milkshake – Yep, sounds great.
Cranberry Pie – Why the heck not.
Cranberry Bread – Yes, please, give me all the cranberries.


Aside from being a nice way to mix up the heavy pumpkin rotation, this cranberry amaretto upside-down cake is exactly the type of baked good you want around during the season of long visits with extended family.

It’s easy to throw together (1 bowl!), it’s forgiving (more sugar, more cranberries, follow your heart), it travels well (no arriving at your Aunt Laurie’s with a pile of smashed meringue instead of a pie), and you can serve it at any time of day.

Is it breakfast? Is it dessert? Is it tea time?


PS – This cake has almond extract, so it tastes boozy. Bonus! And it has this super satisfying crackle on top because of the bottom (top) layer of sugar.

Now you tell me, how would you rank cranberries against pumpkins?

And to my Canadian readers: is pumpkin pie “a thing” up there, is everyone crazy about pumpkin, and do you eat pumpkin pie for Canadian Thanksgiving? I could ask Google, but I’d rather hear it from you.


Cranberry Amaretto Upside-Down Cake (vegan)
Makes 1 9-inch cake
A mashup of Martha Stewart and Isa Chandra Moskowitz

1 ¾ cups (170 g/6 oz.) cranberries
½ cup (105 g/3 ¾ oz.) sugar
¾ cup (225 mL) unsweetened almond milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
¼ cup (55 g/2 oz.) sugar
¼ cup (55 g/2 oz.) brown sugar
¼ cup (75 g/ 2 ½ oz.) unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup (50 g/1 ¾ oz.) grapeseed oil*
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 ¼ cups (165 g/5 ¾ oz.) all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
Optional: Cranberry Sauce for serving.

*Or other flavorless cooking oil

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF and line a 9-inch springform pan (or cake pan) with parchment paper. Lightly grease pan.
  2. In a measuring cup, combine almond milk and vinegar and set aside to curdle.
  3. In the bottom of the springform pan, sprinkle ½ cup sugar in an even layer and top with cranberries.
  4. In a large bowl, combine remaining ¼ cup sugar, brown sugar, applesauce, grapeseed oil, and and almond extract, whisking to combine.
  5. On top of the wet ingredients, add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, and salt, and whisk to combine. Don’t overstir, but try to get the big lumps.
  6. Pour the batter over the cranberries gently, then bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
  7. Let cool 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen and invert. Slice and serve.

Optional: Serve with fresh cranberry sauce spooned over the top.


  1. Richard Lebrun · · Reply

    Of course we have pumpkin pie on our Canadian Thanksgiving, which always occurs on the second Tuesday of October (giving us a long weekend in October) rather than the 4th Thursday of November as in the U.S – much too close to Christmas.

    1. Thanks for filling me in, Grandpa! I do think that a long weekend in October sounds nice and breaks up the holiday season more efficiently. Maybe I should just celebrate both…

  2. This looks so good. I’ve been meaning to do an upside down cake for a while. I feel like it might have a lot more flavor than a right side up cake. Well done in using cranberries. I can’t show up to Thanksgiving empty handed. Thought I”m thinking maybe a cranberry nut bread or something. I’ll see if I can muster up the talent for something like that, but I”m with you in thinking outside of the box.

    1. Amanda, I thought that too about the flavor! Next, I’ll try a classic pineapple upside-down cake, I think. And cranberry nut bread sounds super tasty.

  3. Oh this cake looks deliciousso delicious, Randle! Unfortunately, fresh cranberries here are always imported from North America… which means they are horribly expensive, and usually unripe and tasteless.
    Europeans used to know nothing of pumpkins, after all they are endemic to the American continent, and it has taken us quite a lot of time to get to know them, cultivate them, and use them. Butternuts, spaghetti squashes, delicata (still almost impossible to find) and other varieties have only been around for a few years. But people really love them, and there is a wider variety every year. It is true that it is quite impossible to find the canned stuff; my mom gets it from American or Canadian friends for her Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.
    We can do better with cranberries though…

    1. That’s true! If only we could trade. You take the pumpkin, I’ll take the quince. But I guess that’s just a good reason to travel. I bet you could make this cake with cherries or blueberries too, it just wouldn’t be quite as tart. 🙂

      1. You could also use applesauce instead of quincesauce! I have to tell you that quince is not always available here, and most people who use it own a quince tree. Many of my friends have never seen or tasted quince, but all those who tried this cake just loved it! 🙂

      2. Oh dear, I just realized your comment was about the cranberry cake, not my quince cake. So so sorry. So hmmm forget what I wrote in the previous reply, and yes, I bet this would be delicious with cherries (why not sour cherries?), or blueberries. Or how about red currants, for tartness? 🙂

      3. Update!!! I found jarred quince paste in the cheese section of the store today. I’m sure it bears only a small resemblance to your quince, but at least I can taste it!

  4. An “Americans in the UK” forum helped me find canned pumpkin when I lived in England. It’s sold at Waitrose for £2.00 and also at Selfridge’s for a much higher price in their “American food” section which includes £10.00 boxes of Lucky Charms. Or at least that was true in Birmingham back in 2006-2008 when I lived there.

    1. Holy smokes! That reminds me of the time I tried to buy Tabasco sauce in Switzerland. I think it was at least 20 Swiss francs. Thanks for stopping by, Karis!

  5. I’m in the UK and I’ve never seen tinned pumpkin, but then I haven’t ever searched it out. We do “do” pumpkins but, just as you associate them with thanksgiving and pumpkin pie, we associate them with hallowe’en and pumpkin carving. This time of year (or around the 31st October at leaast) you’ll see a multitude of pumpkin recipes on British blogs as well (only they’re usually using fresh pumpkin). But I definitely think the US beats us in the general pumpkin stakes – I saw a blog with “pumpkin flavoured morsels”, looking like orange chocolate chips! AMAZING!!

    As for pumpkins vs cranberries. Oh no! It’s too hard! They’re both amazing but in different roles. Not sure how easy it would be to carve a cranberry, and pumpkin sauce with turkey might not go down too well … 😉

    Love your blog, thanks for following mine, and I promise next time I comment I’ll keep it shorter 🙂

    1. Are you kidding! I love long comments. Thanks for telling me all about Halloween in the UK.

      I have never seen those pumpkin morsels, but they seem entirely within the realm of possibility. People here are crazed for pumpkin. Pumpkin pie is a tradition of course, but I think Starbucks and the Pumpkin Spice Latte really took it to a new level.

      Love your blog too!

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