This beautiful Cranberry Upside-Down Cake earned me a “10” from my husband. He especially noted the fruitiness of the cranberries and the moist crumb of the cake.
I am a rule follower. Always envious of the “rule-breakers” that seem to get away with everything, but never willing to risk it myself. So, when packages of cranberries are all over the grocery store I do what I’m told and “Buy 2, Freeze 1”. I cleaned out the cupboards and refrigerator this first week of January in my quest for a clean start to the New Year and there it was, that extra package of cranberries telling me that I had better find a use for them.
There are a few necessary, key ingredients in this Cranberry Upside-Down Cake that you might have to put on a grocery list if you don’t have them left over from your holiday baking. One is seedless raspberry jam and the other is slivered almonds. If you remember from my previous post, I didn’t get a lot of holiday baking done. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t shop for it!! 😉
I am currently living in a ever-more-cramped apartment (very long story). This has created significant issues with my baking projects. I have very little storage and end up putting all of my supplies in every nook and cranny I can find. I’ve got spices and food colors under our bed, food processor attachments in with my bath towels, and my pans are sharing shelf space with laundry detergent. One quick little shortcut I’ve done to help myself is mark the size of my cake pan on the side of the pan with a permanent marker. I can tell at a glance what I have and which one to pull out of the stack. To date, I have (unnecessarily) bought an additional tart pan, tube pan, 2 – 8″ cake pans, and 3 pastry brushes. Jeez! Anyway…this recipe calls for a 9-inch cake pan.
Cranberries are so pretty, don’t you think? As I cooked them in a mixture of butter, sugar and raspberry jam they became very fragrant and made distinctive snapping sounds as they softened and their skins burst.
Cranberries are surprisingly quite full of water. They are pre-cooked in this recipe to reduce this water content so the cake doesn’t get soggy. I strained off the juice extracted from cooking and then simmered it over medium heat until it was gooey and syrupy and reduced to about 3/4 of a cup.
The cranberry layer of the cake is made by spooning the cranberries in a single layer in the bottom of the prepared cake pan. The gooey syrup is them drizzled over the top. This layer is chilled for 30 minutes in the refrigerator before spreading the cake batter on top and baking the cake.
This is a special occasion cake and did take a little bit of effort. On my personal “level of baking difficulty scale” of 0 (easy) to 5 (dang difficult), I’d give it a 3. There are a few steps in the process and anytime that a recipe makes me whip egg whites separately, I sorta dread it. Doesn’t stop me, but I don’t necessarily celebrate the opportunity.
When I tackle recipes like this one, I prep all the ingredients before I start so I am well organized. I also clean up as I go and the mess isn’t quite so bad.
I hope when you next have company coming, you will make this Cranberry Upside-Down Cake for a special dessert. It is absolutely beautiful with the deep crimson color of the cranberries. Cody and I enjoyed our slices warm with plenty of whipped cream on top. HMMMM
- Topping: 6 T unsalted butter, 12 ounces fresh cranberries, ¾ cup sugar, 2 T seedless raspberry jam, ½ tsp vanilla
- Cake: 1 cup flour, ¼ cup slivered almonds, 1 tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp salt, ½ cup whole milk, ½ tsp vanilla, ½ tsp almond extract, 6 T unsalted softened butter, ¾ cup sugar, 3 eggs separated
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease and flour a 9-inch cake pan, line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the paper with cooking spray.
- For the topping: melt the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the cranberries, sugar and jam and cook just until the cranberries are softened - about 3-4 minutes. Strain the cranberry mixture and reserve the juice. Return the juice to the skillet and simmer it until it is gooey and reduced to about ¾ of a cup. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the ½ tsp of vanilla.
- Spoon the cranberries in a single layer in the cake pan. Drizzle the reduced juice over the top of the cranberries as evenly as possible and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
- In a food processor, process the slivered almonds and ¼ cup of the flour until finely ground. Add the rest of the flour, baking powder and salt and pulse 4-5 times until combined.
- In a 1 cup measure, add the milk and flavorings. Whisk to combine.
- In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg yolks one at a time.
- On low speed, add the flour mixture and milk mixture alternately - ending with the flour.
- In a separate, clean bowl beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
- Whisk in ⅓ of the egg whites into the cake batter and then gently fold in the rest.
- Pour the cake batter over the chilled cranberry layer.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around the cake and invert it onto a plate.
(Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated All-Time Best Holiday Baking)