Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
The classic American upside-down cake gets a seasonal adjustment via whole cranberries (fresh or frozen) flavored with orange. They bake underneath a simple butter-cake batter that ends up soft and tender, and the whole dessert gets a luscious topping of softly whipped cream flavored and speckled with seeds from half a vanilla bean. This is a cake that was destined to be served warm.
Make-ahead note: Bake the cake 1 day ahead and, when thoroughly cool, wrap it well in plastic film. Rewarm, covered with foil, in a 300°F oven for about 15 minutes.
For additional cranberry inspiration, check out our Cranberry Shortbread Bars with Almond Streusel, Tart Cranberry Pie, and Apple, Cranberry, and Cherry Galette.
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 3/4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), at room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1/2 a scraped vanilla bean
1Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan.
2In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of the sugar, the brown sugar, cinnamon, and orange zest. Add cranberries and toss to coat evenly. Spoon mixture evenly over the bottom of the cake pan.
3Cream the butter and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract; beat until well combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
4Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three batches, starting and ending with the flour and alternating with the milk. Mix until well combined.
5Spoon the batter over the cranberries in the pan, spreading to smooth. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and invert onto a rimmed platter.
6As the cake cools slightly, whisk together the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and seeds from the scraped vanilla bean until soft peaks form. Spoon onto warm slices of the cake.
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