Gluten-free Chocolate Cherry Upside-Down Cake

Gluten-free chocolate cherry cake

Gluten-free Chocolate Cherry Upside Down Cake. You can make it with fresh or preserved cherries (not pie filling).

Cherries are one of the few fruits I actually like with chocolate. I loathe chocolate with orange and can’t for the life of me figure out why that is a popular flavour. Equally mysterious to me is why black licorice or anything anise flavoured is eaten. Ever.

This recipe was loosely inspired by Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Cloud Cake.  Nigella’s cake has 8 eggs in it and no flour so it was really just the idea of putting chocolate cake with cherries. I made this cake for Mothers’ Day (yes, I did all the cooking) and served it with some of my home preserved cherries with some homemade ice cream. The cake itself is absolutely delicious, but the cherries and syrup from the jar went perfectly with it. I could probably have eased off a little by buying some vanilla ice cream, but at the time it seemed like something I should be doing. I should also mention that I made a full brunch spread with gluten-free and regular buttermilk waffles, nitrate free bacon from Brady’s Meats, Berkshire sausage bought through Bailey’s and mimosas.  For dinner we had braised short rib ragout with risotto. Honestly, it was a stupid amount of work to pack into one day and unless Nigella herself were coming for brunch and dinner I wouldn’t do it again.

When cherry season marched headlong toward me I started thinking about making some sort of chocolate cake with cherries since I enjoyed the cake I had on Mothers’ Day so much.  It actually took me 3 tries to get this cake right. All the cakes were good but the main issue with the first two tries was that they were a little dry. The solution for that was to reduce the flour by 1/2 cup. The second time I made the cake I forgot the vanilla and that was a supreme piss-off for me. When baking with chocolate, forgetting the vanilla is like forgetting to add salt to spaghetti sauce. Actually, forgetting to add any salt to a baking recipe will give you a flat, frankly shitty result. Here is your lesson today gentle readers; always add salt and vanilla when baking with chocolate.

You can use preserved cherries in this GF chocolate cake

Despite the lack of vanilla in version 2.0, I did discover that you can successfully use preserved cherries for this recipe. You can buy preserved cherries in syrup of some sort at the grocery store. Just drain the cherries, but reserve the liquid – it is really nice drizzled over the cake and use them just like the fresh ones in the recipe. The result will be slightly different, but still quite nice. The only thing about using the preserved cherries was that the juice dripped out of the pan in my oven.

If you do not have a reason to cook gluten-free and still want to try this recipe, I hope you do try it with regular flour. I do think it would work but since I haven’t tried it myself, I can’t promise anything. Another little thought –  I actually see no reason the cherries couldn’t be mixed into the cake batter but I thought it would look pretty to have the cherries on the bottom of the cake. Do what you like when you make this – it is your cake and nobody is checking up on you.

Yields 8

Gluten-free Chocolate Cherry Upside-Down Cake

Gluten-free chocolate cake with fresh cherries.

25 minPrep Time

50 minCook Time

1 hr, 15 Total Time

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  • 2 cups fresh, pitted cherries*
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp organic (or regular) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup gluten free all purpose flour (such as Bob's Red Mill brand)
  • 1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 60 grams (approx. 2 oz) dark chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 cup sour cream


  1. Pit cherries and mix with 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp brandy. Let them macerate for a half hour or longer.
  2. Line the bottom of a 9" springform pan with a piece of wax paper cut into a circle about 10" in diameter. You want it to go up the side of the pan slightly to help contain the liquid from the cherries. It also makes removing the cake from the pan easier.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and Xanthan Gum, set aside.
  5. Beat the butter and sugar together in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  6. Add the eggs and beat until it is pale yellow and then add the vanilla, mixing well.
  7. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter and egg mixture and mix until it is just combined.
  8. Add 1/2 of the sour cream and mix well.
  9. Again, add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix well. When that is mixed, add the melted chocolate and mix it in slightly.
  10. Add the remaining sour cream and mix slowly until it is combined, then add the remaining flour mixture, and mix well.
  11. Pour macerated cherries onto the wax paper in the pan.
  12. Spread cake batter evenly on top of cherries.
  13. Bake at 350 F for 50-55 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.


*If you have extra cherries then feel free to add more. I've used 2 1/2 cups with success.



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