Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake.

Cranberries. A versatile fruit and a sexy one. They can rock savory or sweet, dried or fresh. I'll be honest, I've kind of been obsessed lately. I've always included dried cranberries in the stuffing I make at Thanksgiving, but most other times I try to use cranberries, I have failed epically. For the past few years, my mom and I have attempted to make our own cranberry sauce and every year, it's too runny and it just pisses me right off. But maybe next year will be different - so Mom, start looking for a recipe because it's your year to pick!

Now let's talk cake. I'm more of a team pie girl myself, but I love this cake because it's not too much. It's light - tasting that is - please, it's got almost two sticks of butter in it. I also like that it's not chocolate. The first time I made this, right before Christmas to take to a friend's house for dinner, it was much easier than I expected it to be. I've since made it a couple more times and it just gets easier. Reasons I love this dish: It can be done in one pan and I get to use cast iron which just makes me happy. Also, it's just plain good eats. Some days I really think I would have been a pretty bad-ass pioneer woman, cooking with the cast iron and all.

You know who else is bad-ass? Nigella Lawson, that's who. I usually just have one of her cookbooks sitting on my coffee table just to page through. My favorite Nigella cookbook for winter time is How to Be a Domestic Goddess. It has all manner of delicious recipes in it for browsing and cooking on a chilly Sunday afternoon. I make notes on the pages based on what I did differently each time, if the cooking time is off for high altitudes or if I added something that was really excellent. My pancake recipe is in the book, as is my go-to cupcake recipe. Today's recipe comes from the Christmas section, but is great all winter long.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

What You'll Need

scant 3/4 c unsalted butter (that means just barely)
1 c sugar (I like to use sugar in the raw for a bit of crunch, as it won't dissolve all the way)
heaping 3/4 c cranberries
3/4 c self-rising cake flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs
1-1 1/2 tbsp whole milk (seriously, whatever you have in the fridge)
8-inch cast-iron pan

What You'll Do

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Put the cast-iron pan on the burner and melt 1/4 c of the butter. Add 1/2 c of sugar, stir, then empty the cranberries and turn to coat in the syrupy liquid. I like to leave it on the burner for a few minutes, with the sugar in the raw it takes a wee bit longer for the sugar to get syrupy. While it's cooking down, it's time to whip out the cake.

Get your food processor out (or do it by hand if you're old school). Put the flour, salt, cinnamon, remaining sugar, 1/2 c butter and the eggs in the processor and blitz to combine. Pulse while you add enough milk down the funnel to make a batter of soft, drippy consistency. Pour it on top of the berries in the pan and put it immediately in the oven. Cook for 30 minutes or until the cake is bouncy, gold and risen and beginning to shrink back from the edges.

I like to time it so it comes out of the oven as we are sitting down for dinner so that it has a bit of time to cool and then is ready to eat just as dinner is done. After the cake has cooled a bit, put a plate on top of the pan, flip it, and lift the pan off. Sometimes it helps to run a knife around the edges of the pan before you flip.

Serve warm with ice cream. I was so excited to eat the finished cake after I flipped it that I completely failed to take a picture of it. Whoops.

Serves 6-8.

Eat it standing over the counter or eat it for breakfast. Put some nuts in with the cranberries, or don't. Do whatever makes you and your tummy happy. And get ready for next week because it's gonna be big.

Next week, we make bacon jam. That's right, bacon jam.


  1. Can I say YUM!! Can't wait for next week and the bacon jam!

  2. So excited that you are going to try the bacon jam. Let me know how it goes. The kind I had from skillet street foods was good but the seasoning was a bit off for me. I've seen some with maple flavors and that sounds a maple bacon cupcake...or maybe with some smoked turkey, gruyere cheese, bacon jam sandwich...maybe with some of that cranberry sauce as well...oh I am soo hungry right now...