top of page

Skillet Cranberry Upside Down Polenta Cake

Perfect for the holidays!

You know, I love polenta cakes as much as I love upside-down cakes. So it should come as no surprise that I decided to head to my 'very own test kitchen' (a.k.a my humble abode) to work on combining the two, with much success, might I add.

The building blocks of the cake remain the same, but the addition of cornmeal gives us a crumb so full of flavor and texture. Much more wholesome, I think. Butter and brown sugar together makes the base for the cranberries, over which the batter is then mounded.

And best thing about it, it's a one pan clean-up with a cake that screams holidays! For a very holiday look, I'd sprinkle with some pistachios before serving. Whipped cream on the side great as dessert, but not too much, served with coffee. So if you love cranberries & love upside down cakes, I'd definitely give this one a go!



Recipe for Skillet Cranberry Upside Down Polenta Cake

Shopping list:


4 tbs. unsalted butter, cubed

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries


1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup polenta (I use Bob's Red Mill Corn Grits/Polenta),

1-1/2 sticks softened unsalted butter

3 large eggs

1/2 cup milk, at room temperature

1 tsp pure vanilla bean paste

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 lemon

An electric stand mixer will produce best results, but an immersion hand mixer can also do the job.

Preparation: Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.

Eggs - In a small jug, crack the eggs, discard the shells and beat the eggs with a wire whisk.

Dry ingredients - In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, polenta, baking powder, and salt.

Lemon- Zest the lemon & cover the bowl with a lid until ready to use.


In a 9- to 10-inch cast iron skillet, melt the butter and the brown sugar together, stirring frequently, until the sugar is moistened and liquefied. Add the cranberries and stir. When the mixture starts to bubble, remove from heat and set the pan aside.

Place the butter & sugar in the bowl of the electric stand mixer or a mixing bowl. Cream the butter and sugar for a few minutes on low-medium setting till light & fluffy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or by hand in a mixing bowl with a spatula, beat the butter, granulated sugar and lemon zest at medium high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until very light and fluffy.

Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the beaten eggs a little at a time, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides. Mix in the pure vanilla bean paste.

At low speed, add half of the flour mixture, then the milk, then the remaining dry ingredients, mixing just enough so that they’re all combined. Do not over mix.

Stir the cranberries & brown sugar mixture & shake the pan so they are in a relatively even layer.

Spoon the batter over the cranberries in four mounds, then use a spatula to spread the batter evenly over the fruit.

Bake the cake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven, wait 10 minutes, then run a knife around the cake.

Place a serving platter overturned on top of the cake in the skillet, then using oven mitts, flip the pan until the cake releases from the pan.

Make ahead tips: The cake is best made and served the same day, warm if possible. It is also good served at room temperature. This cake isn’t a good candidate for freezing.




bottom of page