Cherry upside-down cake

Photographer: Adam

This time last year, Annie, an industrial designer down here in Dunedin, brought us a traditional Dutch recipe, Kerstkransjes. This year she shares with us a cherry upside-down cake that I can tell you from personal experience tastes amazing! Anyway, over to Annie:

“I am a huge fan of cherries, so when I stumbled upon a recipe for cherry upside-down cake I couldn’t resist and decided to try it for the office as a pre-holiday treat. So I got baking, diligently following it step-by-step. I turned the finished cake out onto a serving platter and took it through to the office. It looked stunning – glossy, deep red cherries glistening all over the top. But when we cut it for that all-important first slice, the cake was not cooked in the middle! Needless to say I was pretty disappointed. But God loves a trier, so when I heard that Dave, one of our mechanical engineers had 16 kg (!) of cherries at home which he handpicked on a cherry orchard in Alexandra, I got him on board to make cherry cake mark II. Dave and I had heaps of fun and the cake turned out perfectly.

“This cake is great with mascarpone or whipped cream and the cherry syrup. I had great success with fresh cherries, but if you can’t get your hands on any, two 400g cans of pitted dark cherries will suffice. Simply drain and use the liquid from the cans.”


1 kg fresh cherries
1 cup brandy (optional)
2 cup caster sugar
5 cup water

200g soft butter
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2½ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup buttermilk

Cherry syrup
Juice from cooking cherries
1 cup of brandy
1 cup of sugar


1. Preheat oven to 160 C. To make the cherries un-pit them and soak them in 1 cup of brandy for roughly half an hour. Combine the sugar and the water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Add the cherries and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Drain and set aside and reserve cooking liquor.
2. For the cake batter mix butter and caster sugar in a food processor until pale and smooth.
3. Transfer the mixture in a bowl, add eggs and cinnamon and mix well.
4. Add sifted flour and baking powder and fold in with buttermilk until smooth.
5. Arrange the cherries in the base of a 23cm dish. Pour the cake batter over the top and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes until golden and skewer comes out clean.
6. Cool and than invert onto a serving plate
7. Heat the cherry liquid and add the sugar and brandy. Bring to boil and continue to boil for 30 minute. This should reduce the amount by half and give it a syrupy consistency.