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Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Serves: 10 to 12

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1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons orange juice


To make the cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks, vanilla and 1 teaspoon orange zest, and beat until combined. Add one third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the milk. Continue to add the flour and milk, alternating between the two, and ending with the flour. Beat well after each addition. Transfer to a separate bowl and wash the mixer bowl.

Using the now-clean mixer bowl and the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes. Add one third of the egg whites to the cake batter and mix thoroughly. Using a spatula, fold in the rest of the egg whites, one third at a time, until the eggs are well incorporated. Set cake batter aside while you make the topping.

To make the topping: Using a 9 or 10-inch cast iron skillet, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and stir until it starts bubbling. Remove from the heat.

In a small bowl, mix together the cranberries and orange juice. Pour cranberries on top of the brown sugar mixture and shake the skillet so they are evenly distributed. Pour the cake batter over the cranberries and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake, 30 to 35 minutes.

Let cool in the skillet 10 minutes, then cover skillet with a cake stand or plate of choice and flip the cake onto the cake stand. Garnish with remaining 1 teaspoon orange zest and serve.

Photo and recipe: Catherine Baker

About the recipe

Perfect for the upcoming holiday season, this brightly colored cake has a gooey topping that will have you scraping the skillet for the leftover sticky-sweetness. Cranberries are in season September to November and are easy to stockpile in the freezer so you can make this cake year-round. This recipe can also be prepared in a 9-inch cake pan instead of a skillet and is best served warm. It is delicious all by itself, but a dollop of fresh whipped cream never hurt anybody.