Christmas Upside-Down Cake: turn over a new holiday tradition

There’s Christmas fruitcake.

And then there’s Christmas fruit cake.

The difference a single space between two words can make is nowhere more evident than here.

Fruitcake, bane of many a lame joke around Christmas sweets, is typically deep-dark-dense, super moist, and packed with fruit. Sounds pretty good, right?

Right – if you’re a fan of the neon-green cherries, bitter citron, and harshly chemical-tasting dried (make that dry) fruits with which these mass-produced fruitcakes are often packed.

Or maybe you make homemade fruitcake, redolent of brandy or rum, laced with moist apricot chunks, toasted pecans, bright-red cranberries, and tangy-sweet pineapple. Now THAT’S a good fruitcake.

But it’s still not fruit cake.

No, the fruit cake we’re talking about here is a moist, light-textured golden cake crowned with a jewel-like topping of colorful dried fruits bathed in a decadently buttery spiced syrup.

Think pineapple upside down cake – but substituting your favorite fruits for the pineapple.

It’s not fruitcake. But like I said before – THAT’S a good fruit cake.

Ready to try a new fruit cake, one that won’t end up center stage at the annual Manitou Springs Fruitcake Toss?

We’ve got you covered.

In a medium-sized pot melt over low heat:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger

Cook slowly over low heat until the butter is melted, the mixture is smooth, and you don’t feel the grit of sugar on the bottom of the pan.

Divide the topping mixture evenly between two 9″ round pans that have been greased and lined with parchment paper. Tilt and twirl the pans until you have an even layer across the bottom of the pans.

Toss together 3 cups of your favorite fruitcake fruits, candied cherries, diced peel, etc. Divide and sprinkle over the topping mixture in the pans. I like to cut the candied cherries in half so they go further; more red looks more festive to me.

You can add 1/2 cup of chopped nuts too, if desired. It’s your cake, do what you like!

Prepare your favorite double-layer yellow cake recipe, or your favorite double-layer yellow cake mix. Divide and pour over the fruits and spread to level. I love our Golden Vanilla Cake Mix; it has that true upside-down cake taste and texture from my childhood.

Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are golden brown and begin to pull away from the sides of the pans.

Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool for 3 minutes. This will allow the cakes to set and not collapse when you turn them out.

Invert each cake over a serving plate and let sit for 30 seconds. Gravity will pull the sticky, gooey coating down over the cake. Remove the pan and scrape out any fruits that stuck.

Oh, my sweet buttery goodness…

Check out how the sided of the cake absorbed the buttery brown sugar topping.

Serve the cake warm, with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or even hard sauce.

One great thing about this recipe is that you make two cakes at once. You can bring one to a friend or neighbor, or someone who needs a holiday boost of cheer. OR you can wrap and pop one in the freezer to enjoy later on. Just warm the cake in a 300°F oven for about 10 to 15 minutes to get it sticky again before serving.

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Christmas Upside-Down Cake.

Print just the recipe.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. C.S.

    I was wondering if it would be possible to make this recipe into mini loaf pans or mini bundt cakes.
    I would like to use this recipe as gifts for church members.
    Thank you
    C. S.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      What a great idea for gifts, C.S. We think mini loaves will be great! We feel like mini Bundts would be a pain, both in getting them out and then keeping the fruit on the cake — but loaves? Absolutely. They’ll bake in about 30 minutes but start checking around 20 just to be safe. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

  2. MAWhite

    After making this cake 2 times, I can not figure out why the topping is covering the pretty fruit and becoming SO hard. I tried cooking the topping less time and on lower heat, no change. I love the taste of the cake and the option of selecting my own fruit since I’m not a fruitcake fan…HELP?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The syrup covers two 9″ pans, be sure to use at least 1 1/2 to 2 cups fruit/nuts per pan. If those tips aren’t headed in the right direction, do consider a call to our baker’s hotline at 855-371-2253 and we’ll do our best to help. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

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