Grilled Blackberry Upside Down Cake

My grilled blackberry upside down cake recipe covers a lot of territory for me.  I am a blackberry fan, and as you probably know I also love grills.  Further, I am partial to cake!  So, after a trip to the Memphis Farmers Market where I found some luscious blackberries, I decided to put them to good use!

Mid to late June/early July is when blackberries are at their peak in my area.  I spent many a summer day picking them in my early days.   Forging through the brush to reach the berry patch, making noise to scare off snakes and trying to avoid thorns and chiggers didn’t seem to be a big deal when I was younger.  Now however, I prefer to simply visit a farmers market and get them without all the work.  Plus, I love supporting local farmers and people who still have an attachment to the land like the people with whom I grew up.

Baking on a grill

Baking on the grill tends to give your goods just that little hint of “extra” that you didn’t know you were missing.  I usually don’t use wood to smoke when baking, as a cake or bread can get overwhelmed with smoke flavor easily.  When I bake, I normally do so on my Big Green Egg.  I have also used several of my other grills, but I tend to find I can control the temperature better on an egg.  Baking is not like most cooking, and quite frankly doesn’t come naturally to me.  I think it’s more of a science than an art.  That “extra pinch” of something that I like to throw in to most of my recipes can seriously throw off a baked good.  The same goes for temperatures- baking needs consistent temps.  That being said, this is a very easy recipe and doesn’t require pinpoint precision.

Upside down cakes are a favorite of mine- they are easy to prepare, look pretty and taste even better. When I’m doing something like this on my grill, I always break out my trusty cast iron skillet.  It works well for this as I just make the blackberry syrup in the skillet and then pour the cake batter into it. While a pineapple upside down cake is the most ubiquitous of these, one made with fresh blackberries will shine with the brilliant purple that they bring during the summer.

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Grilled Blackberry Upside Down Cake

  • Total Time: 50 minutes


  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 2 cups fresh blackberries
  • 1 3/4 cup Sugar (divided)
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Add the 2 tablespoons of butter and the brown sugar and stir to make a caramel.
  3. Add the blackberries and 3/4 cup sugar, and stir. Press the blackberries with a spatula to break them up and release their juices (you don’t want them to cook into a puree, just broken down some.) Depending on how juicy your blackberries are, cook for 3-4 minutes until it reduces slightly and forms a syrup.
  4. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. In a mixer, add 1/2 cup softened butter and and 1 cup sugar. Mix until the butter is incorporated, then add the eggs. Continue beating and add flour mixture, vanilla and milk a little at a time and beat until all is incorporated.
  5. Pour the batter into the blackberry syrup. Using a spatula, “tease” the batter to the edges of the pan.
  6. Place on a grill running at 350 degrees. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Remove from grill. Using a knife, lightly go around the edges to release from the pan. Allow the cake to sit for 10 minutes to allow the cake to tighten up. Position a plate on top of the skillet, and then flip over. Slowly raise pan. (If the cake doesn’t release, put the skillet on a stovetop for 3-4 minutes to heat up the syrup again, then try again.)
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes

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