Cherry Upside Down Cake

cherry upside down cake
Ananda Headshot Ananda Kaplan

Our Cherry Upside Down Cake is free of refined sugar and healthy enough to have for breakfast, but decadent enough to impress as a dessert. The tender and moist cake pairs beautifully with the caramelized cherry balsamic topping, creating an unexpected depth of satisfying flavors and textures. This cake requires only one bowl for mixing and minimal kitchen equipment. It is also very adaptable—you can use either fresh or frozen cherries and different ingredient options to make it vegan or gluten free.  This delicious, healthful, and elegant cake is the perfect way to sweeten up your day.



  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil or butter or vegan butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cups fresh pitted cherries or 2 10 oz bags of frozen cherries (thawed and drained)


  • 2 eggs or 2 flax eggs*
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup or honey or coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup milk or non-dairy milk (coconut, oat or hazelnut work well)

*To make 2 flax eggs: mix 2 tablespoons of ground flax with 6 tablespoons of water. Set aside for 10 minutes to thicken.*


  • 1 cup flour (all purpose regular or gluten free)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Make the flax eggs and set aside, if using.
  3. Melted the butter or coconut oil in a 9- or 10-inch cast iron (or stainless steel) skillet or high-sided ovenproof skillet over medium heat.
  4. Add the maple syrup and balsamic vinegar and cook for 5 minutes to reduce to thick syrup.
  5. While the ingredients are reducing, mix the wet ingredients in a large bowl.
  6. Add in the dry ingredients and gently fold into the wet ingredients until well combined. Make sure to not over-mix.
  7. Turn off the burner once the syrup has reduced. Top the reduced syrup with the cherries in a single layer.
  8. Then carefully top the cherries with the cake batter and smooth evenly with a spatula.
  9. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  10. Place the skillet on a rack or hot pad to cool for 10 minutes until the bubbling fruit at the sides has stopped.  Loosen the cake around the perimeter. Then using oven mitts, place a cake plate over the skillet and flip the cake over. Remove the skillet gently and rearrange any fruit that may have gotten stuck to the bottom of the skillet.
  11. Let the cake cool to room temperature (~15-20 minutes). Enjoy!

Cherries: Especially high in plant chemicals (polyphenols) to help fight cellular damage, reduce inflammation and promote overall health. Cherries have also been found to help with muscle recovery and pain due to the strong anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative components.

Maple Syrup: A sweetener that is an unexpected source of essential minerals for bone health, metabolism and brain functioning with more nutrient value than regular table sugar. This means that it will raise blood sugar slower than regular sugar. Also contains polyphenols to reduce inflammation and support a healthy immune system. The darker the maple syrup the more antioxidants it has. Note: Be sure to carefully read the food label when shopping for maple syrup, selecting 100% pure maple syrup. Many stores sell “maple-flavored syrups”, which are high in refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrup.

Balsamic Vinegar: A great accompaniment to sweet and savory. It can help balance blood sugar levels, promote digestion and support gut health, and increase blood circulation.

Avocado, Olive or Coconut Oil: Health supporting fats that are packed full of antioxidants to support eye health and anti-inflammatory properties shown to help reduce symptoms of arthritis.

Eggs: Pasture-raised and cage-free eggs have a superior nutrient profile compared to eggs from caged hens. These eggs will be a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids to lower inflammation, maintain brain functioning and vision along with being a natural source of vitamin D for strong bones and immune support.

Ground Flax: Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Flax can take on a gel-like texture due to the high fiber content. This gel coats the gut and helps slow digestion to make you feel satisfied. It also helps bulk up stool and feed the friendly bacteria in your gut.

Plant-Based Milk: There are many different plant based milk options: soy, almond, cashew, oat, pea, hazelnut, etc. All are great non-dairy options and in general will have less fat and mostly mono-unsaturated fat to support cardiovascular health. Choosing which one is healthiest isn’t about the milk base — it’s about what kind of additives are in it, so make sure to read the ingredient list to ensure there is no added sugar, flavoring and thickeners (carrageenan, guar gum, or vegetable oil).

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