Pumpkin Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

My son’s viola teacher, Sandra, asked for advice regarding traditional Thanksgiving family fare. The next thing I knew, she had given me a copy of a recipe for Pumpkin Cranberry Upside-Down Cake featured in Sunset Magazine’s November 2007 issue. I made several changes to it, most notably removing the sugar, dairy and gluten and was pleased with the results.

This dessert is a rich, moist cross between a pumpkin cake and a pumpkin pie. Perfect for that post-Halloween, pre-Thanksgiving time of year. Try it on a windy day with a warm cup of tea.

Pumpkin Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

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Servings 24


Cranberry Mixture



  • Line an 8 x 8 inch baking dish with a piece of parchment paper (use scissors to cut to size)
  • In a medium bowl, combine cranberries, walnuts, agave and grapeseed oil (or shortening)
  • Pour cranberry mixture into lined baking dish
  • In a large bowl, stir together almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
  • In a vitamix, combine oil, agave, eggs and cooked pumpkin; blend on high speed for 30 seconds or until smooth like pudding
  • Stir wet ingredients into dry
  • Pour batter evenly over cranberry mixture
  • Bake at 350°F for 40 to 50 minutes
  • Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes
  • Run a knife around the edge of the baking dish, then place a large plate over the cake and invert cake and plate together
  • Remove the baking dish from the cake and then peel off the parchment paper
  • Allow to cool to room temperature and serve
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Tried this recipe?Mention @elanaspantry or tag #elanaspantry!

Be forewarned, this may be the most complicated recipe I have posted to date. Even saying the multi-syllabic name of the recipe is work. The most challenging part in making this fall comfort food is getting all of the ingredients together. After that, it’s really just a quick three step process.

Thus far, this gluten free, dairy free, naturally sweetened pumpkin cake appears to be a big hit with young and old. My little boy and his friend Leo recently devoured half the cake in one afternoon.


30 responses to “Pumpkin Cranberry Upside-Down Cake”

  1. Is this possible to make with coconut flour? My Daughter is allergic to all nuts. If so, how much. THank you..

  2. Yum! This was fantastic. I am not much of a baker and this was easy and delicious. I will definitely make this cake again and maybe share it outside the home if my family doesn’t devour it first.

  3. Elana — I made the Pumpkin Cranberry Upside Down Cake as this evening’s dessert and I had to write to let you know of its success. A few days ago I finally had the opportunity to roast the pumpkins I used as the Thanksgiving centerpiece. Better late than never! I made some substitutions in the ingredients: fresh cranberries for the dried, honey for the agave nectar and coconut oil (melted down) for the grapeseed oil. Although it took longer to bake (75 min.), it was well received by my taste tester husband. Of course, it was not served naked but with freshly made whipped cream with a teaspoon of almond extract added. Two pieces later, I thought he was done. The only analogy I can think of is it was akin to the Thanksgiving turkey that gets picked on as time goes on. He finally announced to me at one point, “No more.”

    Every recipe I’ve made of yours was a resounding success. Thank you. I do have a question though: When baked, the cake does not seem as “baked dry” as a regular flour-based cake. I always need to bake them much longer, sometimes resulting in a “burned” look to the finished product. Is there a way this can be avoided? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    • Hi Stephanie,

      This cake is not going to be your typical “baked dry” cake, with all of the pumpkin, it is extremely moist. My other cake recipes are designed so that the cakes will bake fairly dry, so that when you stick a knife or toothpick in at the end of the baking time, it will come out with just a few moist crumbs attached.

      If the outside of the cakes you are making are burning, then I would recommend as a first step, making sure that your oven is properly calibrated. I actually keep an oven thermometer in my oven at all times to make sure it is baking at the temperature the oven is set to. You may want to try this as your first troubleshooting step with the cake burning issue.

      Please keep us posted and let us know how it goes :-)


      • I have had this same issue with several of your recipes. They all turn out delicious, but I am new to using a lot of these ingredients, so have pulled some things out when you suggest and they are not near done. I have a thermometer in my oven (even double checked that with a second one for a bit!) and the temp is right on. I live in Bozeman, Montana, which is about 600 feet lower in elevation than Boulder. Would I need to adjust for that? I need to learn how to not be so invested in my dishes because I can get rather upset if I mess up after all the time and money spent on making something. Not sure if you can help me with that issue :) but any ideas on why they might take so much longer to bake? Mine turned out like pumpkin pie and is sooo delicious, but I’m not sure if it is done enough for me to devour it. Thanks, and I love your site!

  4. Thank you for this recipe and your entire website! I’m in the middle of an elimination diet to test for food intollerances and I was looking for something that I could make to celebrate my first wedding anniversary. I couldn’t have the dried fruit so I skipped the upside down cake, but I used the rest of the recipe and it was great! I paired it with cashew cream icing from this link: http://www.food.com/recipe/carrot-orange-cake-with-cashew-cream-icing-323713

    I do plan to try the coconut icing with some other recipes I’ll be making for the holidays. I’ve uploaded some photos of my cake here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/33777289@N00/sets/72157625497257160/

  5. I just made this to have around the house for Thanksgiving week snacking. It was OUTSTANDING. I made it exactly as written, with no substitutions, and I can’t say enough how good it was. My whole family loved it and they’re not too big on pumpkin pie, so I was thrilled. So glad I found this recipe.

  6. I made muffins using this recipe with fresh roasted pumpkin, and substituted honey for agave in a 1:1 ratio. I made half with the fruit/nuts on the bottom and half with them mixed in and baked them for about 30 minutes on 325. They were divine! My non GF friends loved them, too!

  7. So I made this cake tonight because I wanted something sweet and I’m trying to stay away from flour and sugar. The consistency came out very mushy…is it supposed to be this way? I have made a plain almond cake with agave before and consistency is always perfect. Is it because I used canned pumpkin? would that make it mushy?

    Thanks for any advice you could give :)

    • Hi Davie, thanks for your comment. Yes, this cake is fairly mushy, though I’m imagining even more so due to the canned pumpkin. If you try it with home baked pumpkin it might be a bit less mushy :-)

  8. So very excited as my Honeyville Almond Flour has arrived!! Planning on making the pumpkin cake recipe above, but it looks like pyrex no longer makes 8 x 8 pans (can’t find them in the stores). I have a metal 8 x 8, or I suppose I could opt for a 7 x 11 pyrex. Does any one have any advice? I’ve noticed that many of Elana’s recipes use pyrex, having never tried one of the almond flour recipes before I’m looking for advice. My family’s counting on me to bring the healthy delicious desserts, I would hate to blow it cause of the pan, so any help would be appreciated!! PS: Elana, I’ve made the almond butter blondies, the chocolate banana cake, the kale w/cherries, and absolutely every one of your recipes brings rave reviews. Thank you so much for this amazing website & Happy Thanksgiving!

    • i made this delicious recipe in a vintage pyrex that was approx 9.5 inches by 6.5 inches. I left it to bake a little longer than suggested for the 8X8. Plan on using the same next time I make it.

  9. I’ve made this a couple times now. The first time I used fresh pumpkin, the other ~3 times I’ve used canned pumpkin. Elena’s ratios in the recipe definitely work best with fresh pumpkin–I haven’t been able to tweak it to get the right texture with canned yet. I’ve tried adding more almond meal, adding another egg, etc…Although it seems that fresh pumpkin gives a better texture, it’s still delicious with canned!

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Recipes » Desserts » Cakes and Cupcakes » Pumpkin Cranberry Upside-Down Cake