Washington Cherry Upside-Down Cake

Washington Cherry Upside-Down Cake

Oh my. Cherry Upside-Down Cake. You really must taste it.

People often ask me – “why ‘Food for a Year’? Do you make meal plans? Do you show people how to store up enough food for a year?”….  I think this recipe a good way to answer that question. Our years are filled with traditions, seasons, celebrations, travel, schedules, work, monotony and once-in-a-lifetime moments. And this Cherry Upside-Down Cake blends several of these into one gorgeous, memorable dessert.

While on our recent stay in Washington State (Orcas Island to be exact), my friend, Angie, joined us for several days. It just so happened that her stay was during our shared birthday week — which can only mean one thing :: cake.

And since it’s summer in the PNW, what better way to celebrate than to make a cake that allows the sweetest dark Washington cherries to be the star of the show?! I could have easily made this cake with raspberries, or blueberries, or blackberries or even wild mountain berries b/c they were all available in bounty & tasted liked Willy Wonka waved his wand over them. Yes – the berries in Washington taste like candy, for real. Who knew?! Not his Okie that’s for sure.

Since I had 2 pairs of helping hands that had no job, I decided cherries were the way to go and got them bust about the task of halving and pitting 2 pounds of cherries. Can you believe they never complained?! And when they found out there was such a thing as a cherry pitter and we had one, they wanted to try it all over again. (Working hands are happy hands!)

This recipe is made super easy by using my 4-ingredient Quick (Homemade) Cake Mix. You can find out more about that recipe HERE :: FFAY Homemade Cake Mix.

Start off by making a quick (notice a theme developing? Yes, this cake is quick, ha!) caramel in the bottom of a 2″ deep 10″ wide skillet. Quick caramel can be made by simply melting brown sugar and butter and stirring until a rolling boil is achieved. 

And then place about 1 pound of pitted, halved cherries (cut side up – or down if you prefer) in a single layer over the caramel. Butter the sides really good after the caramel has formed, so that after baking, the cake will release (fingers crossed – as if fingers crossed could actually help, sigh).

Mix together the cake mix ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder & kosher salt), whisking to combine.

Add eggs, sour cream, water and melted butter.

And then stir until the batter is smooth (it will be thick).

Dollop the half of the batter over the cherries and spread.

Sprinkle 1 cup of brown sugar over the top of the batter and then cover with the remaining batter.

Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until the center is set. 

At this point – your really hoping it will come out of the pan in one piece. Otherwise, you’ll have to change the name of the dessert – from a cake to a crumble.

Thankfully, this upside-down cake released from the pan and indeed became an “upside-down” cake. Doesn’t it look gorgeous?

Sweet warm cherries bursting with juice, buttery caramel topping oozing into the cake – and the cake! Warm, moist and not too sweet, allowing the caramel and cherries to bring the biggest flavor impact. I need another slice, topped with a little scoop of Tillamook Dark Cherry Ice cream. Happy Birthday indeed.

Washington Cherry Upside-Down Cake
Serves 16
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
45 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
45 min
512 calories
80 g
88 g
21 g
4 g
13 g
159 g
237 g
63 g
1 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 512
Calories from Fat 186
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 21g
Saturated Fat 13g
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 88mg
Sodium 237mg
Total Carbohydrates 80g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 63g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 2 ½ c all purpose flour
  2. 1 ½ c sugar
  3. 2 ½ t baking powder
  4. 1 t kosher salt
  5. 1 c sour cream
  6. 3 eggs
  7. 2 sticks butter, melted
  8. 1/3 c water
  9. 1 lb sweet dark cherries pitted & halved
  10. 1 c brown sugar*
Quick Caramel
  1. 2 c brown sugar
  2. 1 stick butter, salted
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine first 4 ingredients - whisking to combine.
  3. In a 10" cast-iron or 2" deep skillet, prepare caramel sauce by bringing 2 c brown sugar & stick of butter to a rapid boil, while stirring continuously. Remove from flame, butter the sides of the pan and set aside.
  4. Add remaining cake ingredients (minus the cherries & 1 c brown sugar*) to the large mixing bowl containing the dry ingredients. Whisk until smooth.
  5. Using the skillet w/ the caramel sauce as your cake pan, place the pitted, halved cherries (cut-side up) in a single layer on top of the caramel sauce. Pour half of the batter over the cherries. Top with remaining cup of brown sugar and second half of cake batter.
  6. Place into the preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the center is set and a toothpick comes out with only a few moist cake crumbs attached.
  7. Allow the cake to cool for 3-5 minutes. Then run a knife around the edge of the cake to help release the cake from the pan & invert the cake on a serving platter. Hopefully it releases perfectly. If not, carefully remove stuck-on bits & place them on the cake (it will be just fine).
  8. Serve warm with your favorite ice cream.
  9. Serves 16
  1. *this brown sugar will be sprinkled between layers of cake batter.
Adapted from Food for a Year
Adapted from Food for a Year
Food for a Year: https://foodforayear.com/