This Cherry Coconut Upside-Down Cake is absolutely delicious. Sweet coconut cake combined with sour cherries (aka pie cherries) is the perfect sweet and sour combination. It's a beautiful colorful one layer cake that you'll want to share with friends and family and it's super easy to make.
A few years ago I discovered sour cherries and each year I try at least one new dessert with these cherries as the main ingredient. This year it's this wonderful cherry upside-down cake. If you love sour cherries or if you've never tried them check out my other recipes featuring these delicious cherries - Sour Cherry Galette and Mascarpone Sour Cherry Ice Cream.
Why This Recipe Tastes So Good
Upside down cakes are a wonderful combination of fruit and cake but sometimes the cake can be bland because so much attention is paid to the fruit. To have a more balanced cake I focused on creating a cake flavor that goes with the cherries and after some testing, I found that coconut and cinnamon taste great with the sour cherries.
Upside-Down Cake Ingredients
Here are the ingredients for the upside-down cake:
- Sour (Pie) Cherries (fresh or frozen). I tested the recipe with both fresh and frozen cherries. I got the best results with frozen cherries. Their size and color was very consistent as well as the flavor.
- All-Purpose Flour. Provides the structure for the cake. Be careful not to over beat the batter after adding the flour as that will cause gluten develop and make the cake stuff.
- Granulated Sugar. Sugar is used in both the cherry topping and the cake.
- Unsalted Butter. Unsalted butter is preferred because you can control the amount of salt. If you're using salted butter leave out the salt called for in the recipe
- Full Fat Coconut Milk. I only tested this recipe using full-fat coconut milk. Do not use coconut cream. Using reduced fat coconut milk may result in a cake that is a little dry.
- Whole Eggs. Make sure your eggs are at room temperature, which means between 65-68 degrees F. Take the eggs out the night before if baking in the morning or first thing int he morning if baking later in the day.
- Baking Powder. Only baking powder is used in this recipe because there is no acidic ingredient to activate baking soda.
- Ground Cinnamon. Ground cinnamon is a really nice complementary flavor with the coconut and cherry.
How to Make This Cake
Single layer cakes are fun to make. They're easy and perfect for when you want something a little sweet. Upside-down cakes are single-layer cakes taken to the next level with the addition of fruit.
The first step is to measure out all your ingredients. Measuring out all your ingredients is called mis en place and ensures that you don't accidentally forget an ingredient.
Prep your 9-inch cake pan according to the directions in the recipe.
If using fresh cherries pit them and place them along with the sugar in a 10-inch skillet. Heat on medium-high heat, stirring gently until the sugar is melted. Once the fruit starts boiling reduce the heat to medium and cook the fruit until the liquid is reduced by half.
Strain the cherries over a medium-coarse strainer and reserve the cherry liquid. This liquid will be used later to brush the top of the cake. Spread the cherries over the bottom of the cake pan in a single layer.
Make the cake batter and when it's done place it over the cherries in 3 or 4 large dollops and then use an offset spatulate to gently spread the batter over the cherries. Bake the cake until the center is about 203 degrees F. The cake is done when a cake skewer is inserted in the center of the cake and comes out clean or with just a few cake crumbs attached, or the temperate in the center of the cake is about 203 degrees.
Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, run a thin knife between the cake and sides of the pan, and invert the cake onto a plate or flat board.
Pro Tips for Making This Recipe
- Make sure your ingredients - eggs, butter, coconut milk are at room temperature. Room temperature is usually about 68 degrees.
- The fat in coconut milk usually solidifies at the top of the can. To melt the fat before opening the can, set the can (top side down) in warm water for at least 15 minutes. Shake the can before opening to thoroughly mix the milk.
- Line the cake pan with parchment paper to ensure your fruit topping comes out intact.
- When adding the flour and coconut milk beat on low speed to prevent the development of gluten in the batter which will create a tough cake.
Recipe - Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can use the same amount (3/4 cup) of whole milk instead of coconut milk.
Yes, you can use 3/4 cup of either buttermilk or sour cream if you do not have coconut milk. See my recipe for Meyer Lemon Upside Down Cake for the amounts of baking powder and baking soda to use if using an acidic ingredient.
I have not tried making this recipe gluten-free. If you have a favorite gluten-free cake recipe you can try it with this recipe, but I can guarantee the results.
If you love cake you'll love this Cherry Coconut Upside Down Cake. This cake is so good, that when I made three test versions they all got eaten, there were no leftovers. Please try this cake and if you do please leave a comment or tag me on Instagram @bakesbybrownsugar. And if you want to stay up the date on new recipes please sign up for my newsletter.
More Related Recipes
If you enjoy eating cake as much as I do then try these other delicious cake recipes:
Cherry Coconut Upside-Down Cake
- 3 teaspoons (14 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 teaspoons (6 grams) all-purpose flour
- 765 grams pitted sour cherries fresh or frozen
- 2/3 cups (125 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (114 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 (100 grams) large eggs 100 grams, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
For the Pan Release
- Melt two teaspoons of butter and combine with the flour until a paste forms. Brush the sides and bottom of the cake pan. Line the bottom of the cake pan with parchment paper and brush the parchment paper with 1 teaspoon of soft butter.
Prepare the Cherries
- Place a medium-sized bowl with a coarse strainer next to the stove. Place the cherries and the sugar in a 12-inch skillet with 2-inch sides. Heat the ingredients on medium high gently stir the sugar and cherries together until the sugar has dissolved, the cherries have begun to release their liquid and the liquid begins to boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the cherries until the liquid is reduced by half and has begun to thicken. This step will take about twice as long if using frozen cherries instead of fresh cherries.
- Scrape the cherries into the strainer. The cherry syrup will be used to glaze the cake after it has baked. Spread the cherries across the bottom of the cake pan in a single layer. There might be a few open spots. To ensure a finished decorative look when the cake is baked make sure that there are no gaps between the cherries at the edge of the pan. Set the cherry-lined pan aside as you prepare the cake batter.
For the Cake
- Place the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon in a medium bowl and whisk until the ingredients are well combined, about 30 seconds.
- Place the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat the butter and sugar mixture on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl and add the almond extract. Beat on medium for 10 seconds to combine.
- Add one egg at a time, beating after each addition. Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until well combined. There may be some flour on the sides of the bowl - that is okay. Add all the coconut milk and mix on low speed until combined. Add the remaining flour and mix on low speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for another 10 seconds to ensure all the ingredients are well combined.
- Gently place the cake batter on top of the cherries in 4 large dollops and gently spread the batter across the berries with an offset spatula. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges to release the cake and invert in onto a platter.
- Once the cake has cooled brush it with about 1/4 cup of the reserved cherry glaze. Serve the cake by itself or with ice cream or whipped cream. Use the remaining glaze for lemonade or as an ice cream pour over.