Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
Fresh cranberries are usually available from October to December. If you’re lucky, availability might even bleed into January. I’m a hoarder when it comes to kitchen supplies and ingredients – cans of pumpkin purée, 250-count parchment sheets, and two-pound bags of Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate discs from Surfas to name a few. So this season, I started stocking up on fresh cranberries before they are all gone… I just throw them in the freezer if I won’t be using them right away.
A delectable dish to make using fresh cranberries is an upside-down cake. I’m sure some of you have upside-down cake recipes that track all the way back to your grandparents, or your sassy aunt makes a version whenever there’s a family barbeque. Dust off that recipe card because you might want to experiment swapping out the classic pineapple rings with ruby-red cranberries.
This Cranberry Upside-Down Cake is from Cook’s Illustrated (one of my favorite recipe sources to try and test). The cake uses a separated egg method. The yolks are added with the rest of the ingredients while the whites are beaten separately until soft peaks are formed. The whites are then folded into the batter resulting to a firm cake (to hold all that cranberry topping) but with a light crumb.
There are a lot of batter recipes out there for upside-down cakes. One that I really like is the addition of cornmeal in the dry ingredients. It gives the batter a slight nutty texture which works well with stone fruits. This one, however, uses blanched slivered almonds that’s been ground to a fine powder.
When baked, the cake looks like it’s adorned with sparkling gems. And it glistens with the addition of this cranberry reduction, almost like a caramel sauce. This sweet reduction helps add balance to the tart cranberries. Not too sweet, not too sour. There’s still a mild pucker – but guaranteed with a smile.
If you are not yet a member of Cook’s Illustrated, you must. It’s a gift you can give yourself for 2012. Tons of kitchen tips, tested recipes, and equipment ratings. Since I didn’t make any adjustments to the cake, I will not post the recipe on this blog but you can access it here with their 14-day free trial.