There’s nothing that screams the holidays like cranberries. Did you know that 20% of cranberries grown are consumed over the holidays? The fresh ones are only around this time of year and their bright red color makes you want to burst into a Christmas song. And because I love them so much, I’m always looking for new ways to cook or bake with them. This particular recipe hits the jackpot as far as I’m concerned.
I’ve seen various iterations of upside down cakes but this one, in my estimation, surpasses them all. It is so much fun to take this cake out of the oven, let it cool for 10 minutes, and then turn it over and see this gorgeous burst of holiday color decorating the top of the cake. This cake will stand out on any holiday dessert table. And besides looking fabulous, it tastes fabulous! And it isn’t that difficult to make. You just need to follow a few tips and the cake will turn out perfectly. This is the very first time I made this cake and just look at it – holiday perfection! So let’s talk cranberry upside down cake…
Lesson Learned 1 – Grease the bottom and sides of the pan generously: If you don’t do this you’re dead in the water. The cake will never come out clean. Now by generously I don’t mean you need a build up of grease in the pan. Just make sure your pan (and this recipe calls for one 9 inch round cake pan) is thoroughly greased on the bottom and the sides. And make sure you only use butter to grease the pan, nothing else.
Lesson Learned 2 – Can you make this in an 8 inch round pan: The answer is yes and no. This recipe makes a lot of batter and really calls for a 9 inch pan that is at least two inches high up the sides. Once you put the cranberries in the entire batter will come close to the top if you use it all. I wound up leaving a small amount of batter out as I was afraid the cake would spill over the sides of the pan. I left a little less than 1/2 inch of space along the sides.
I’m glad I did. The picture below shows what the cake looked like right out of the oven. You can see the cake is all the way up to the top of the sides of the pan. Next time I make the cake I may add a few less cranberries (the original recipe called for 12 ounces of cranberries – I did not use that either. I used about 10 ounces of the 12 ounce bag). The key to getting a nice top is making sure the cranberries are evenly spread over the brown sugar and butter base. Piling the cranberries slightly on top of each other also results in a few cranberries rising with the cake and creating some nice color throughout the cake, which I liked.
I think you could use an 8 inch pan but keep in mind you will need less cranberries and you will have more batter left over. Either way, leave yourself a little less than 1/2 inch of space along the sides so your cake does not flow over the sides of the pan.
Lesson Learned 3 – Don’t let the cake cool in the pan longer than 10 minutes: You want the cake to rest for a short time when it comes out of the oven. But you also want to make sure you can get the cake out of the pan. Remember what you have on the bottom is really sticky. Cool the cake for no longer than 10 minutes. Then take a butter knife and run it all along the sides of the pan. If you do this, your cake will come out easily. Mine did and it looked gorgeous. Let the cake cool in it’s “upside down” form.
If you follow these simple lessons you should have no problem making this cake. And as always I will include sea level and high altitude amounts for the baking powder. I know you will love this one!
Cranberry Upside Down Cake...
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 Tbs. unsalted butter
10 ounces of fresh cranberries (you will not use an entire 12 ounce bag)
1 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder (1 tsp. for high altitude)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Very small pinch of ground cloves
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 Tbs. orange zest (the zest of a large orange)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch round cake pan. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, melt together the butter and brown sugar for the base. Make sure they are mixed well. Pour this mixture into the bottom of the cake pan.
Spread the cranberries evenly over the butter/brown sugar mixture. Set aside.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.
In another bowl beat the butter for the cake until it is light and fluffy. Add the sugar and mix thoroughly. Add the eggs in one at a time and mix until combined. Stir in the orange zest.
Mix 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the butter/egg mixture. Once combined beat in 1/2 of the sour cream until combined. Beat in the next third of the dry mixture until combined. Add the remaining half of the sour cream and beat until combined. Add the last third of the dry ingredients and beat until combined. Finally add the milk and beat until combined.
Pour the batter over the cranberries making making sure to leave a little less than 1/2 inch of room from the top of the pan.
Place in preheated oven and lower the temperature to 325 degrees. Bake anywhere from 55 minutes to 70 minutes. (mine took 70 minutes – it will depend on your oven and your altitude). Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a butter knife all around the edges of the pan. Place a plate on top of the pan and invert it. Let the inverted cake cool on the plate.