Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

Here it is, "Thanksgiving" morning--we celebrated the Saturday after--in my new, improved kitchen. You can tell I've been busy: you can see, from the foreground, Brownie Schrumpf's brownies and Pennsylvania squares, some mango bread we ate for breakfast, some cheese straws ready for the oven, and way in the back on all my counter space, a bowl of toasted bread cubes waiting to become stuffing. Yes, even though I have a lot more counter space, I somehow manage to use it all.

This side of the kitchen is even more of a transformation: lots more counter space around the stove and a new sink. Of course we soon discovered that the wooden countertop doesn't like being near the sink, but I'm sure we'll very soon have a fix for that. Anyway, I am so very grateful to have a husband who's willing to put in the time and talent so that I can have a fabulous kitchen.

But back what I've been cooking in the kitchen. Of course I made pumpkin and pecan pie, but I wanted to do something for the blog as well, and Cranberry Upside-Down Cake seemed like the way to go. It's festive and easy enough to fit in with all the many other holiday dishes.

The fresh cranberries I got at my local supermarket (from Wisconsin) were huge! Underneath them is a thick layer of butter and sugar. Warning: the silicone pan was not the way to go here, as the sugar never caramelized. Use a metal cake pan and perhaps put a cookie sheet under it.

The cake batter comes together quickly, and you just pour and spread it on top.

Here it is fresh from the oven before being reversed on a plate.

And here's the result after being reversed but before being glazed (and set in a corner to wait while other dishes got the spotlight). Note the white patches of unmelted sugar. I was rather disappointed with that.

Of course, I got busy with cooking and guests (12 for dinner, a stretch for our small apartment) and didn't take a picture of the final product, but it was really delicious. It's got a refreshing tartness that was nicely offset by the crème fraîche I served with it. Mind you, like the Cranberry Grunt before it, this cake was the last to be finished, but I enjoyed every piece.

Here's the recipe. It's not pumpkin pie, but maybe that's OK.

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

10 T. (5 oz.) butter, room temperature, divided
1 c. (7 oz.) sugar, divided
1 12-oz. bag cranberries, rinsed and drained
1-1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
Grated rind of one (organic) orange
1 t. vanilla
1 egg
1-1/4 c. (5 oz.) sifted flour (I used some whole wheat, of course)
2/3 c. (5.3 oz.) milk
1/3 c. red currant jelly

Heat the oven to 350. Find a 9-inch cake pan that is at least 1 inch deep, preferably deeper. A pie plate might do the trick if you don't have a deep enough cake pan.
Take 4 T. (2 oz.) of the butter and smear it in a thick layer on the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Sprinkle that with half of the sugar. Put the berries in a single layer over that. Set the pan aside while you make the cake batter.
Beat the rest of the butter (3 oz.) with the baking powder, salt, orange rind, and vanilla until fluffy. Add the remaining sugar and beat another minute or two. Beat in the egg and beat another minute. Add half the flour at low speed, then the milk, then the rest of the flour. Pour the batter over the cranberries and spread it evenly: it should cover them fairly thoroughly, and the pan will be quite full. Bake (on a baking sheet for insurance) for 1 hour (check after as little as 35 minutes: mine was done at that point). The top of the cake will become dark brown. Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes. After 10 minutes, cut around the sides of the cake. While the cake is cooling, melt the jelly in a glass bowl in the microwave for about 30 seconds, or until it has melted. When the 20 minutes are up, cut around the sides of the cake again, put a plate on top of the cake pan, and (using potholders) flip the cake upside down on the plate. If you're lucky, the cake will slide right out. If you're not, scrape out the cranberries, put them back on top of the cake, and remember that you're going to be covering them up anyway. Pour the melted jelly on top of the cake, using a spoon to spread it out to the sides. Cool to room temperature. Serve with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche.


  1. Love that you have everything out where you can easily use it all! Very nice, and I am just wondering what the Bosch appliance is beneath your is interesting. I love the combination of cranberries and orange rind (actually anything with orange rind!) I have some cranberries in the freezer that I might just use for this!

  2. Hi, Diane,
    I'm with you on the orange rind. It's good with everything! I put an orange inside my turkey this year, and it was delicious.
    That appliance washing machine! We just don't have room for one anywhere else. It's the joy of small European spaces.
    Hope you make and enjoy the cake--I know I did!

  3. Oh my gosh, Maria, I'm planning to make a version of this from the Hy-Vee magazine today! Looks like almost the same recipe, except theirs has "HyVee" in front of every ingredient. Too funny. Your new kitchen is great! Compliments to the handysam, and happy baking!

  4. And is that Daddy brand sugar?!

  5. That is indeed Daddy brand sugar. I'm hoping it's because the French have a twisted sense of humor. Enjoy your Hyvee cake!

  6. That's what I thought, but couldn't figure out how they installed a gas stovetop above...ours has a ton of venting, etc. underneath. That is neat, and very handy!