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Cranberry Upside Down Cake

November 7, 2008

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

I am not usually much of a cake baker, but I wanted to make something lovely and different for our chili party. I’d originally planned to make cookies, but when I saw this cake in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours, I had to make it. It seemed perfectly fall-like, and I thought the tart cranberries would be a nice counter to the spicy chilis. And I have to say it turned out even better than I thought it would. The cake is wonderful and dense, with just a hint of cinnamon, the cranberries were juicy and, yes, quite tart, and the walnuts added a nice earthy crunch to each bite. And now? I’m in love with cake baking, and I can’t wait to try more.

And boy howdy this cake looks impressive! Upside-down desserts always seemed kind of magical to me, like the cake is hiding beneath it some kind of treasure that’s revealed when it’s tipped out of its pan. The jewel-like color of the cranberries just added to my impression of a kind of buried treasure.

Cranberries on the bottom

My photographs really don’t do this cake justice: It was stunning. But you know what? No one ate it! Everyone told me they were too full of chili to eat dessert. Such a sad fate for such a delicious cake. Dorie writes that she created this cake for Thanksgiving, and I think it would be a unique, but still Thanksgiving-appropriate, alternative to pumpkin pie. When I do eventually get to host Thanksgiving (I can’t wait for that day!) I will most certainly make this to finish off the meal.

Cranberry Upside-Downer

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 c. minus 2 T. sugar (um, I think I just used 1 full cup)
  • 1/4 c. chopped walnuts
  • 2 c. cranberries (I used fresh, but frozen will work too, unthawed)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c. whole milk
  • 1/3 c. red currant jelly

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 6 tablespoons of butter. Sprinkle in 6 tablespoons of sugar and cook, stirring continuously, until the mixture comes to a boil. Pour it over the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan, and spread evenly. Scatter the walnuts over the butter mixture, and then spread the cranberries in a thin, even layer over it all.

Beat the rest of the butter (one stick) until it’s smooth (thank goodness for my electric mixer). Add 1/2 a cup of sugar, and continue beating until well mixed. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. Add half the dry ingredients and mix until they’re just incorporated into the batter. Then add the milk, and finally, the rest of the dry ingredients.

Spread the batter over the cranberries—they will stick and get mixed into the batter a bit, but don’t worry because it will all turn out alright in the end. Smooth the top of the batter, and bake at 350F for about 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove it from the oven when its cooked through (I tested using the ever-trustworthy toothpick testing method), and run a knife around the cake, between the pan and the cake’s sides. Turn the cake out onto a serving platter—the easiest way to do this is to place a platter on top of the cake pan, and then quickly flip the two over. I was so worried that the cake was going to stick and that I would have a disaster on my hands, but all that butter helped the cake slide right out without a hitch. I love butter.

Warm the red currant jelly in a small saucepan until it’s smooth and liquid and just a little bubbly, then pour or brush it over the cake as a glaze. Shiny! Delicious! Yay for cranberries!

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

4 Comments leave one →
  1. vintagejenta permalink
    November 30, 2009 2:24 pm

    This looks amazing! How sad that no one ate it. I have been wanting Dorie Greenspan’s book for a while now, and this is yet another reason to buy it!

    I actually just bought some fresh cranberries today. I was thinking about making an upside down pear gingerbread cake, (with the pears I also bought) but this looks just as yummy! And a chance to break in my “new” (a.k.a. overflow from grandma’s kitchen) cake pans! Ah… the possibilities…

    • November 30, 2009 4:40 pm

      Oh, this cake was fantastic. I think of it often. I might make it for Christmas this year…


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