Recipe: Cranberry Apple Upside-Down Cake

I’ve made pineapple-upside down cakes. I’ve also created tasty vegan versions of my mom’s Jewish apple cake. So, I thought, what would happen if those two worlds collided? And how about if I throw in a handful of fresh cranberries from my CSA farm share – aside from cranberry sauce, what in the world do you do with those little suckers anyway?

The result: you get a delicious mash up that just screams fall. There’s apples! And cranberries! With walnuts!


  • The recipe just says “flour.” In most of my baking, I prefer to use whole wheat pastry flour because, you know, health and stuff. It also gives my cakes a heartier, more dense consistency (which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your preferences). If you don’t want that, plain old all-purpose flour is great. Or any flour you like best and have on hand.
  • I use coconut sugar in, well, everything. I don’t buy white or even raw sugar anymore. If you’ve never had coconut sugar, picture this: turbinado sugar and brown sugar met, fell in love and had an equally sweet and delicious baby. (Don’t want to invest in trying it out? You could substitute in 1/4 cup brown sugar for the coconut sugar that goes in the baking pan, and white or raw sugar for the rest. Just don’t tell me about it.)


– 2 TB. flax meal (ground flax seeds)
– 1/4 cup water
– 1 TB. coconut oil, melted
–  3/4 cup plus 2 TB. coconut sugar, divided
– 1 large apple, peeled and cored
– 1 cup fresh cranberries, washed and stems removed
– 1 TB. cinnamon
– 2 TB. orange juice
– 1/2 cup applesauce
– 1 tsp. vanilla extract
– 1 1/2 cups flour
– 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
– 1/2 tsp. salt
– 1/2 cup walnuts (optional but highly recommended)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the flax meal with water and set it aside to thicken.

Grease an 8×8 inch or 9×9 inch baking pan – a quick spritz of cooking spray works great – then line it with parchment paper. Grease the parchment with the melted coconut oil. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of coconut sugar over the oil and make sure it’s evenly distributed.

Slice the apple in half, then cut one of your halves into thin strips. Take the strips and place them over the coconut sugar in the baking pan, overlapping slightly to close any gaps. You may need to slice more than half the apple into thin strips to line your entire pan, but that’s okay. Just use whatever you need, making sure to reserve at least a quarter of the apple for the cake batter.

Dice the remaining 1/2 to 1/4 of the apple into small pieces and place them in a small bowl. To that, add the cranberries, cinnamon and 2 TB. coconut sugar. Add in the orange juice, mix and set aside.

By now, your flax and water should have thickened a little bit. To the flax mixture, throw in the applesauce, vanilla and the remaining 1/2 cup of coconut sugar, and mix well.

Add in the flour, baking powder and salt, and mix until smooth. Stir in the apple/cranberry/OJ mixture. Also stir in walnuts (if you’re using them).

Spoon batter (heads up: it’ll be thick) over the sliced apples in the baking pan, and spread it out so it’s even. You may need to get your fingers involved.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until it’s browned, the edges are bubbling and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out relatively clean. By the way, your house will smell awesome the whole time it’s in there.

Let the cake cool for 15-20 minutes, then turn it out onto a plate or serving platter. Peel the parchment paper off and marvel in your cake’s beauty.

Serve it warm or at room temperature. Dish it up with some soy whipped cream or vegan vanilla ice cream. Or not. It’s really delicious any way you slice it.


The Picky EaterWhat Mel Says
“I hate it,” she jokes, giggling, then proceeds to wolf down the rest of her huge slice in two massive bites.

The Funny Man What Ant Says
“It’s rather tasty. I dig the cranberries.” Then he asks for a second piece.

Do you like what you see? Plan to try this out? Or, do you have a recipe you love that uses fresh cranberries? I’d love to hear it – leave a comment below!



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