This is probably TMI, but for years I’ve harbored a fantasy of creating a holiday card of me lying in bathtub covered with cranberries. Sort of like that Annie Lebovitz portrait of Whoopi Goldberg in a tub of milk, but holiday themed, with cranberries.
It’s a fun idea visually, in my mind, which is where it will likely stay. (How many cranberries does it take to fill a bathtub?)
You too can fantasize about swimming in a sea of cranberries, especially if they are baked into an upside down cake like this one. Cranberry jewels surrounded by a caramelized sauce cover the surface and bleed their tart sweet flavor into a dense, orange-zest speckled cake.
Upside down cakes are somewhat of an obsession around here. We love our pineapple version (the most requested cake at our family gatherings), and my father is known for trying every upside down cake recipe he sees.
He gave this cranberry cake his seal of approval, by coming back for more, even after I sent him home with half the cake.
Cranberry Upside Down Cake Recipe
Baking times will vary, depending on the brand of flour, size of pan, thickness of sour cream. The batter should be gloppy, not runny, so add a little more flour to get to gloppy if your batter is too thin.
Some readers have needed to cook this cake longer than the baking times indicated, so definitely test before turning out!
- 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 4 Tbsp (1/4 cup or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Scant pinch ground cloves
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp (plus more for buttering the pan)
- 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp orange zest
- 1/2 cup sour cream (or greek yogurt)
- 1/4 cup of milk
- A 9-inch cake pan with at least 2-inch high sides
1 Butter a 9-inch cake pan: Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch diameter cake pan.
2 Make caramel topping with brown sugar and butter: In a small saucepan, place the 1/4 cup of butter and the 3/4 cups of packed brown sugar. On medium high heat, stir the sugar as the butter melts. Once the butter is melted and mixed in well with the sugar, stop stirring and let the mixture simmer for 15 seconds or so.
3 Pour brown sugar mixture into cake pan and top with cranberries: Pour the brown sugar butter mixture into the prepared cake pan. Spread the cranberries on top of the sugar butter mixture.
4 Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves: Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl vigorously whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground cloves.
5 Beat butter, add sugar, add eggs, stir in zest: In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until light. Add the sugar and beat together the sugar and butter until fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in the orange zest.
6 Alternate adding sour flour mixture and sour cream, then add milk: Mix a third of the dry ingredients into the mixture. Beat in half of the sour cream. Mix in another third of the dry ingredients. Mix in the remaining sour cream. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients and then the milk.
7 Pour batter into cake pan and bake: Pour batter over the cranberries in the cake pan, and smooth the surface.
Place in the preheated oven and lower the heat from 350°F to 325°F. Bake until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs, and pressing down on the surface bounces back, 55 minutes to an hour.
8 Cool cake in pan, run knife around edge, turn over onto a serving plate: Cool cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes.
Run a blunt knife around the inside rim of the cake pan to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Then turn the cake out onto a platter.
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