Cherry-Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake

Yay, cherries are coming back into season! Although it’s been a nightmare at work trying to keep them in stock. And when we run out I have to run to the back to get more, and then try to put them out while people attempt to grab them right out the case as I’m stocking them. Really people? Give me 2 minutes here! People act like lunatics in the grocery store sometimes. Seriously frustrating. And I stop to think to myself, do I act this way in public? I sure hope not. A crazed beast lunging towards a fresh case of produce, reaching my greedy hands out to snatch them away from anyone else who dares to even look at that pack of cherries. That one there, in the bottom of the case. Yes I realize the whole case just came fresh out the cooler but I want that one on the BOTTOM! I don’t care if I spill open other packs and leave a royal mess in the process. But really though, I hope I’m not like that when I’m shopping. So please, give your local produce girl or boy a break. Back the f*** off until we’re done stocking the item you’ve asked us to fill up for you! I’m just lucky I was able to nab two clam-shells of cherries for myself so I could make this beauty.


I have made pineapple upside down cake and even a peach upside down cake (sorry no recipes for those bad-boys yet- one of these days!) but I had never even heard of cherry upside down cake! I was googling “cherry desserts” just to see if I could find some new inspiration and boy did I find it! I think my favorite thing about this recipe is the cornmeal in the cake batter. It doesn’t make it overly gritty or anything, just gives it a really pleasant and satisfying mouth-feel. I love it. The recipe I based this on came from Bon Appetite but I found it on the epicurious site and it didn’t include any almond. I adore the combination of cherry and almond so I decided to add some slivered almonds to the topping (which is really the bottom to begin with since you flip the whole cake out of a cast iron skillet after cooking), and some almond extract to the cake batter. Not an overwhelming amount, just a little bit. A little bit goes a LONG way! I’ve made that mistake before so start small! It combines with vanilla extract here for some really lovely flavor.


Not a bad looking cake either once you flip it out of the pan if I do say so myself! Another great use for my cast iron skillet! (So glad I finally got one of these things). So tell me, do you guys keep separate cast iron pans for savory and sweet dishes? I am having that debate in my head, wondering if it really matters that much. I don’t really want another pan lying around but if it’s for a good cause then you know, maybe…




Cherry-Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake

(Adapted from “Cherry-Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake” on


  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cups whole pitted fresh Bing cherries or other dark sweet cherries (about 21 ounces whole unpitted cherries)
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds
  • 1 ¼ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup stone-ground, yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. almond extract
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in center position
  • Combine ¼ cup butter with brown sugar and vinegar in 10-inch cast iron skillet (or other heavy, oven-proof skillet) with 2-inch-high sides. Stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes.
  • Increase heat to high; add cherries and almonds and bring to boil, stirring constantly but gently so not to break up the cherries. Remove from heat and spread out cherries into a flat layer.


  • Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat ½ cup butter on medium speed. Add sugar and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes on medium high speed. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla and almond extract
  • Add flour mixture alternately with milk in 2 additions each, beating just until blended and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl.


  • Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until foamy (you can do this on the stand mixer again if you have an extra bowl or in a separate bowl using a handheld mixer with the whisk attachments). Add cream of tartar and beat until whites are stiff but not dry.


  • Using rubber spatula, fold ¼ of whites into batter to lighten slightly. Fold in remaining whites in 3 additions (batter will be thick). Spoon batter over cherries in skillet, then spread evenly with offset spatula to cover cherries.


  • Bake cake until top is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.


  • Cool in skillet on rack 5 minutes. Run spatula around edges of cake to loosen. Place large serving platter upside down atop skillet. Using pot holders or oven mitts, firmly hold platter and skillet together and invert. Leave skillet atop cake 5 minutes. Remove skillet. If necessary, rearrange any cherries that may have become dislodged.
  • Let cake cool at least 45 minutes. Cut cake into wedges and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.



10 responses to “Cherry-Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake

  1. This is so different and sounds so delicious. I’m going to try it as soon as I find some fresh sweet cherries.

  2. Awesome looking cake, Jess. As for your question about cast iron, I just have one that I use for both sweet and savory purposes. You just have to clean it really well; I rub mine out with coarse salt and a paper towel after every use, and it seems to really do the trick 😉

    • Thanks for the info about your pan! I too have heard to use salt in it. Glad i’m not the only one using the same pan for both!

  3. Oh my gosh Jess that looks fabulous! I must try it this weekend! Thanks for sharing your wonderful delectables and have a wonderful 4th of July weekend. Hugz Lisa and Bear

  4. Jess, this looks fabulous. I love cherries so much in any form, but I think I’ll use sour cherries for this, with added sugar, because I eat the sweet cherries so fast I would never have enough to make a cake. They are only in for a short time, so why waste that wonderful flavor in a cake? As for the cast iron skillet, I’ve never used more than one, just make sure to clean it with the salt rubdown after the different usage. I don’t use the salt routine when using it for regular cooking, just wipe it with a paper towel, and once a year I give it a good wash and re-season it. Mine is so old it has to be seasoned periodically, like every time it gets washed, and that is only one time per year, unless I’ve used it for something really messy or stinky.

    • I actually really love sour cherries more and they are just coming into season here now! I can’t wait to go picking!

      • The birds get them here because most people like the sweet ones better and just don’t appreciate the sour ones. I love the sour cherries most, and can remember several summer Sunday afternoons sitting in my grandma’s cherry tree trying to beat the birds to the cherries.

      • Lol. Yea, the cherry ones rock. I think most people around here only like them for making pies. Which I will admit I love them for. But they are delicious anyway!

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