Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

Now that I’m an adult time seems to fly by more quickly every year.  This past year was no different, and I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for a year now.  I had wanted to celebrate this anniversary with more pomp and circumstance, but I didn’t have the energy.  I have been under the weather for over a week.

I did manage to bake a cake today.  Not your typical rich frosted birthday cake, but a cake that is more like a pie masquerading as snack cake.  The cranberry topping is fruity and tart with the cake adding a slight sweetness.  I was inspired to make this cake by a picture of a Cranberry Upside-Down Cake by Alice Waters in Eating Well.  Alice’s topping looked good, but her cake seemed fussy.  I liked the Apple Upside-Down Cake I made from Cook's Illustrated, so I changed the recipe to incorporate some of the healthier ingredients in Alice’s cake.

I love this cake!  Not only was I able to use one of the leftover bags of cranberries in my freezer, but I also loved the rustic flavors.  The sour cream and canola oil together with the cornmeal and whole-wheat pastry flour made a fine textured, not too sweet cake that is almost like a corn muffin.  The topping is very tart, so if you like your fruit a little sweeter, add the 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar to the cranberry and orange juice mixture. 

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
Inspired by Alice Waters' in Eating Well
and Cook's Illustrated

¾ cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons plus ¼ cup fresh orange juice
1 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries
1 to 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar (optional)

½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 Tablespoon cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
½ cup sour cream (I used light sour cream)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch cake pan and set aside.

Heat brown sugar, 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons orange juice in a heavy saucepan until the butter is melted and the sauce starts to bubble.  Pour the sauce into the butter cake pan.

In a clean saucepan add the remaining ¼ cup orange juice, the cranberries and 1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, if using.  Bring to a simmer, stirring often, until about half the cranberries have popped.  Pour evenly over the brown sugar mixture in the cakepan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat pastry flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.

Whisk granulated sugar, brown sugar and eggs together in a large bowl until the mixture is thick and creamy.  Slowly whisk in the canola oil until combined, and add the sour cream and vanilla.  Add the flour mixture and stir just until combined.

Pour the cake batter into the pan with the cranberries.  Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.

Cool pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake.  Carefully invert the cake on a serving plate.  Let the cake cool for another 20 minutes before serving.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

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