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Cranberry Ginger Upside-Down Cake Recipe – 50 Women Game Changers in Food – Nancy Silverton

by Jeanette on November 11, 2011 · 45 Comments
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Gluten Free Cranberry Ginger Upside Down Cake
Thanksgiving side dishes and desserts have been on my mind the last few weeks. I’ve been a little stressed about coming up with gluten-free foods that will taste good, look good and meet the dietary restrictions of my son this Thanksgiving, and through the holidays. This is the first holiday season since we discovered my youngest son was allergic to wheat and dairy. Although he seems to be tolerating some dairy, I am trying to make everything I serve gluten-free and dairy-free. This Cranberry Ginger Upside-Down Cake is one of the recipes I tested out for Thanksgiving, and boy am I glad I did – it is an elegant dessert with gingerbread flavor tones, light in texture despite its dark crumb.

Baking gluten-free has become easier for me now that I’ve been doing it for nearly a year, but I haven’t really made too many gluten-free cakes. With Thanksgiving coming up in a few weeks, I wanted to try making a festive looking cake that was gluten-free and dairy-free. Cranberries immediately make me think of Thanksgiving and the holiday season. Although tart on their own, cranberries soften up nicely when cooked and go well with ginger, cinnamon and orange.

This upside-down cake recipe features cranberries on top, complimented by a gingerbread spiced cake. The cranberry topping is cooked in a cast iron skillet, with the batter poured on top, and baked right in the skillet. After it comes out of the oven, you just flip the pan over, and voila, you have a a beautiful cake for entertaining or just for your own enjoyment.

This week, a group of bloggers is celebrating Nancy Silverton, one of the 50 Women Game Changers in Food.  To be honest, I didn’t know who Nancy Silverton was. That’s why I like this weekly event – I’m getting to know bits and details about so many successful women, plus taste the food they like to make. Nancy Silverton is an American chef, baker, and author of seven cookbooks (and an 8th coming out). She is credited with revitalizing sourdough and artisan breads in the United States. Nancy was also a co-founder of La Brea Bakery, which she sold in 2001 (but remains a consultant). I’ve actually bought La Brea Bakery natural artisan bread in our local supermarkets, but never realized Nancy Silverton was the mastermind behind bringing artisan bread to the general public. La Brea Bakery bread is now sold 17 countries.

Sadly, she lost her hard earned $5 million profit in the 2008 Madoff Ponzi scheme. However, Nancy Silverton has always been a fighter, and  has moved on, expanding her food empire and writing a new cookbook. As her dad says, “That’s my Nancy—never a quitter.”

This Cranberry Ginger Upside-Down Cake is Nancy Silverton’s recipe, revamped to be gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free. My gluten-free flour mix of choice was the one I used for my Pumpkin Spice Donuts, made with brown rice flour, almond flour, potato starch and tapioca starch.  To make this dairy-free, I used coconut yogurt in place of the sour cream (or creme fraiche), as well as coconut oil and Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks instead of butter. I also cooked the cranberries in orange juice instead of white wine as I think oranges compliment cranberries.

Since I made this cake in the morning, my little guy had a taste for breakfast – this is kid-approved! If you like gingerbread, you’ll enjoy this cake, which is perfectly festive for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

5 from 1 reviews
Cranberry Ginger Upside-Down Cake Recipe – 50 Women Game Changers in Food – Nancy Silverton
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This recipe by Nancy Silverton was renovated to be gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free.
Serves: 12
The Topping:
  • 3-inch knob of ginger, peeled
  • 8 ounces cranberries
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1½ cups orange juice
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 4 tablespoons ground jaggery or other unrefined sugar
The Cake:
  • 6 tablespoons Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks
  • ¼ cup ground jaggery or other unrefined sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour mix
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 3 tablespoons So Delicious Coconut Yogurt or other non-dairy yogurt
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoon unrefined coconut sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
The Topping:
  1. Slice ginger into ¼-inch disks. Combine with cinnamon and orange juice; bring to a boil. Turn off heat, add cranberries and allow cranberries to soak in this mixture until liquid cools. Cranberries should be slightly soft but not mushy. Drain.
  2. Heat coconut oil with jaggery in a 10-inch cast iron pan or other oven-proof pan. Stir mixture until sugar melts. Tilt pan to coat the bottom evenly; cool.
  3. When coconut oil-jaggery mixture is at room temperature, arrange drained cranberries in concentric circles in pan, starting in the middle. There should be a single layer of cranberries. Set aside.
The Cake:
  1. Cream Earth Balance and jaggery until well mixed. Stir in yolks and molasses.
  2. Sift together all dry ingredients except baking soda.
  3. Add dry ingredients and yolk mixture alternately to Earth Balance-jaggery mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
  4. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Stir into batter. Stir in yogurt.
  5. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add coconut sugar, beating until stiff. Whisk a third of the whites into batter; fold in remaining whites.
  6. Spread batter in an even layer over cranberries, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to sit a minute or so. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and invert it onto a flat serving platter.
  8. Best served warm.

If you’re interested in joining our group as we cook our way through this list of 50 influential women in food, just ask Mary from One Perfect Bite.

Please stop by and take a look at what the rest of the group made this week in celebration of Nancy Silverton:

Susan from The Spice Garden
Heather from girlichef 
Miranda from Mangoes and Chutney
Mary from One Perfect Bite
Nancy from Picadillo
Kathleen from Bake Away With Me
Veronica from My Catholic Kitchen
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  1. I have people with so many different dietary issues coming for the holidays that it’s great to have some gluten- and dairy-free desserts on hand, too. This cake looks amazing, and quite festive with the cranberries.

    • Thanks Lydia – I was very happy with the way this cake turned out, festive enough to serve to company, especially anyone who has gluten/dairy intolerances or allergies. Best thing about this cake is that everyone can enjoy it.

  2. Oh, this sounds amazing. I’m liking the thought of cranberries and molasses-y gingerbread together. It looks so moist and inviting. Delicious pick!

    • Thanks Heather – this was a very moist, but light cake (due to the whipped egg whites), and the combination of cranberries and gingerbread flavors goes nicely together.

  3. wow this looks fantastic. A must try!

  4. The bright red cranberries nestled in the deep rich gingerbread look so pretty. You’re such a devoted mother to be accommodating your son’s diet needs in such delicious ways. Great dessert for Thanksgiving!

    • Thanks Sue – I do like the dark gingerbread cake against the ruby red cranberries. As you know, there is no depth too deep for a mother’s love for her child.

  5. Truthfully I hadn’t heard of many of the Game Changers on the list before this challenge. I feel we are learning so much anhd not just about different techmiques and recipes. This cranberry cake is a star, and if your son can have it too it is a double bonus!!

    • That’s why I like this event – I’m learning about new people each week. Yes, this cake is a double bonus since everyone can enjoy it, including my son with allergies.

  6. This is so pretty, and it sounds amazing!

  7. Your cake is so lovely! How nice that you could do a gluten free version! I’m sure it was a huge hit! Happy Weekend!

  8. Just wanted to say thank you again for hosting the giveaways. I have received both the spelt pastas and the Bob’s Red Mill package. I have been so incredibly busy and lacking time to blog these days or getting around to stopping by blogs and saying hello. This cake looks so delicious and the flavors sound amazing. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  9. this is beautiful! love the upside down rendition with cranberries! i think i’ve seen u use jaggery before. do u like the taste of it? i have yet to use it. and yay for #glutenfree baking!

    • I do like jaggery as an unprocessed sugar substitute for brown sugar. It has a caramel color and flavor, so it’s perfect for a rich, deep colored dessert like this cake.

  10. looks great, I LOVE red and brown….yum, looks pretty!

  11. The colour combination looks fantastic!

  12. I’m a big fan of Nancy Silverton, I’ve eaten at her restaurants and dream about her delicious breads!

  13. Cranberry and ginger are such a wonderful combination. I’ll bet your son loves this cake!

    • Yes, cranberry and ginger do make a nice combination, and the gingerbread cake complimented this nicely…and my son really enjoyed it!

  14. What a thoughtful and dedicated mom you are meeting all of your son’s dietary requirements in this gorgeous recipe. I am a big fan of blackstrap molasses – love seeing it here!

  15. Oh boy, gingerbread spiced cake and cranberries. What a great combination. Cranberries have such a nice sweet flavor. I would think they would really accent the spices well.

  16. I love this upside down cake! So beautiful. I’m intrigued by the combo between cranberries and ginger. Thinking of making some cake just for the test testing 😉

  17. Such a pretty cake for the holidays! Love the bright red cranberries against the color of the gingerbread :)

    • Thanks Marla – I do like the dramatic contrast between the red cranberries and the deep color of the gingerbread cake.

  18. What a marvelous cake. Jeanette. I love the idea of combining gingerbread with cranberries. It makes a lovely presentation and I bet smelled divine while baking!

  19. Kid approved is always a huge plus! The beauty of the red cranberries all settled in the chocolate looks gorgeous!

    • It is always a sigh of relief when my kids like what I make. This is actually more of a gingerbread cake, there’s no chocolate in it although it looks like it.

  20. For some one that doesn’t often do gluten free, dairy free cakes I have to say that it turned out beautifully and we wouldn’t have been none the wiser. It really looks like a master piece and if you serve this at Thanks Giving I don’t think anyone will be able to tell that is gluten free or dairy free either! Beautiful.

  21. Stunning cake, Jeanette! Absolutely perfect for the holidays and all my intolerant friends and support group members. :-) I love anything with molasses in it. And “knob of ginger” … I just love that expression, and also anything with ginger. 😉


    • Thanks Shirley! I would serve this to everyone, friends with gluten allergies/intolerances or anyone else. I do like ginger too!

  22. Hi Jeanette,
    This really sounds like comfort food to me. i love the flavor molasses gives to baked items, needless to say the aroma it leaves in the kitchen!

  23. This is a lovely recipe and it is so appropriate for this time of year, The cake looks and sounds delicious and was a perfect choice for week 23. I hope you have a great day Blessings…Mary

  24. Jeanette,
    This is so pretty and perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas…and gluten and dairy free?! The rich dark color does make you think chocolate, but gingerbread is so festive. And it is so satisfying when the kids love it!

    • Thanks Annie – this is definitely festive enough for the holidays, and it always makes me happy when the kids like what I make 😉

  25. This looks fantastic, I love the healthy ingredients used.

  26. Great job on the revamp Jeanette! You really know your stuff and what will work together, this cake looks like it turned out great!

    • Thanks Miranda, the best cooking comes out when I get inspired in the kitchen (which usually means my kitchen is a total mess!).

  27. You really never ran out of great and delicious recipes Jeanette! Thanks for sharing this!

  28. Delicious! This cake got rave reviews for its moistness and yumminess! I’m going to have to make another so I can get a photo. Unfortunately, I did not notice that the cake dish I flopped it onto was concave, so the middle fell in, so it looked more like a bundt cake! I also used Green Valley lactose free yogurt which does not have as much sweetener as So Delicious coconut yogurt (for some reason I don’t love So Delicious products, maybe too many additives?) Thanks for this recipe!

    • Angela, so glad you made this and got rave reviews. I used So Delicious coconut yogurt because we have a dairy allergy, so I’m glad you substituted your favorite yogurt.

  29. This is gorgeous! Can’t wait to try it when cranberry season rolls around again!

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