Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Baking On The Run

If you should ever consider making a cake when you’re short on time, please reconsider. The first time I made this cake I had to pull it out of the oven a tad early in order make it to an appointment.  By the time I got back home the cake had sat for an hour and a half in the pan.  It had a sunken center and looked very sad.

I tried to invert it onto plate but it was stuck.  I put it back in the oven to soften the topping, but the cake just wouldn’t budge from the pan.  My last ditch effort involved whacking the pan with a wooden spoon.  Needless to say the result wasn’t pretty.   But my daughter and I decided we’d try the cake anyway.  It was good, very good. So good we both had two slices before dinner and a third slice after dinner.  I made the cake again, this time with no rushing or interruptions.  Now it looked as good as it tasted!

I was excited to make this cake because, except for cranberry sauce, I'd never really used fresh cranberries in a dish.  Even though the holiday season is the customary time to use them, you can always buy a couple of bags and freeze them for later.  Cranberries will last 9 months in the freezer and can be used in recipes without thawing.

This recipe is adapted from two different sources.  The first is from The Fanny Farmer Baking Book
It uses cranberry sauce, but I wanted to use fresh cranberries.  So I also consulted a recipe from the magazine Everyday Food.”

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
Upside-down cakes are best served warm.  They are lovely with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a real comfort food dessert.  Or have it plain for a sweet and satisfying breakfast treat. Tips--Find a plate or serving dish ahead of time that fits the opening of the pan in which you plan to bake the cake.  Use strips of baking parchment in the pan to help release the cake from the pan (see picture below).

½ cup sugar
zest from half a tangerine or orange
2 cups cranberries, rinsed in water
2 tablespoons butter

6 tablespoons butter
½ cup sugar
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
zest from half a tangerine or orange
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in the middle of the oven.

Grease the sides and bottom of a 9 inch cake pan or cast iron skillet

In a small bowl stir together the sugar and zest. 

Add cranberries and stir again.  Pour the cranberries mixture evenly over the bottom of the baking pan. Pressing the cranberries down into a single layer. Dot with the 2 tablespoons of butter.

To make the cake: In a bowl beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs, vanilla and zest and mix until well combined.

In another bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture.  Stir in half of the milk followed by rest of the flour mixture.  Finish by stirring in the remaining milk.  Do not overmix.

Carefully spoon the batter over the cranberries and gently smooth batter. Bake cake until top is golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35-30 minutes (Using a cast iron skillet may speed up the baking time).  Let cake cool for 10-15 minutes.

Run a knife around edge of cake.  Invert cake onto a plate, using a kitchen towel or hot pads to hold plate and pan together, flip cake onto plate.


  1. This is a great recipe, I loved the photographs; I can't wait to try it.

  2. Wow! This looks like a yummy recipe! I can't wait to try it. Plus I love the photos you are posting of your steps as you make the cake. It makes it look much more do-able.