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/


  1. Denise says:

    Thank you for respond­ing! Well, I total­ly read the recipe wrong and only put 1 stick of (melt­ed) but­ter in the cake bat­ter instead of 2. BUT, it came out fine, thank goodness.…I also wasn’t sure if to use light or dark brown sugar…I only had dark brown so I had no choice.…it was def­i­nite­ly a thick­er kind of caramel so next time I will use light. It all came out just fine!! It was deli­cious!!!! I can’t wait to make this again, the cher­ries and caramel and cake were fab­u­lous!!!

  2. Denise says:

    I see that you use 1 stick of melt­ed but­ter for the caramel sauce.….do you put the oth­er stick of melt­ed but­ter in the bat­ter? thank you!

    • Emily says:

      Hi Denise, total, 3 sticks of but­ter are used for this recipe. 2 in the cake bat­ter and 1 for the caramel sauce. Hope that answers your ques­tion! Hap­py 4th!

  3. Angie says:

    This was by far the best cake I’ve ever had! Thank you for mak­ing it for me and I can’t wait to eat it again in a few months : )

In true show & tell form: "I am open for questions & comments"

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