Last Friday night the Aggies were playing their bowl game and my intention had been to make this cake because the Aggies colors are maroon and white. But between going to the gym, going to the grocery store, making dinner and then a wine and beer tasting at Spirited Gourmet, well, it just didn’t happen. Luckily I had made meringues for my sister who was in town because they’re her favorite. I mean, you just don’t want to get caught without any options for dessert now do you?
So it wasn’t until the next night that I made the cake. It’s not at all that the recipe is too complicated or anything — it’s quite easy actually — I just ran out of time Friday night. In fact, I almost forgot about the cake again the next night, so didn’t make it until around midnight. We had plans to meet up with my sister at a bar and I didn’t have time to prep and bake the cake before we’d have to leave. I prepped everything (all the way down to having the cranberries, sugar, spices, and zest in the buttered pan with some saran wrap on top) and then when we got back I whipped the rest together and threw it in the oven. It was so good warm that second and third helpings may have occurred. It wasn’t so bad the next day either. I can’t tell you what it would have been like by the third day because there wasn’t any left….
This is a great cake to add to your collection. The cranberries give it a lovely tartness while the allspice and cinnamon give it just a slight hint of spiciness. I also added in orange zest because it plays so nicely with cranberries. Putting the cranberries with the sugar, spices, and zest on the bottom of the pan creates a syrup that soaks into the top of the vanilla cake that it rests on. It’s easy to put together, it’s really pretty, it’s different from a lot of the other cakes, you don’t have to worry about decorating it, the ingredients don’t cost much, and it’s quick to throw together. What else could you want in a cake? It’s perfect for anytime you need a red dessert (think Christmas, Valentine’s Day, sports game) or if you’re just in the mood for some good, fruit inspired cake.
Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 cups cranberries
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with rack in the center. Rub the bottom and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan with butter. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar with the cinnamon and allspice. Sprinkle mixture evenly over bottom of pan; arrange cranberries in a single layer on top. Sprinkle the orange zest over the cranberries.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture to butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, until well combined.
With an electric mixer, cream 6 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined. With the mixer on low, add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture in, add half the milk, and repeat alternating the flour and milk (ending with flour) until well combined.
Spoon the batter carefully over the cranberries in pan, and smooth the top. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes and then run a knife around edge of cake and invert onto a rimmed platter. You might lose a cranberry or two in the process; just scoop them out of the pan and stick them in the cake. No one will ever know.