Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

I celebrated Thanksgiving with my mom’s side of the family at my parent’s house this year. My mom asked me to bring a dessert to the gathering, and I was happy to oblige. I wanted to make a dessert I had never tried before, something still in the Thanksgiving realm, but beyond the standard pumpkin and apple pie variety.

When I stumbled upon a recipe for Cranberry Upside-Down Cake from Joanne Weir, inspired by Lindsey Shere, retired pastry chef of Chez Panisse, I knew I had found just the dessert I was looking for. The cake turned out great—the top, beautifully marbled with sweet, baked cranberries, and the cake, dense and crumbly. Topped with a dollop of homemade whipped cream, it was a sweet ending to a filling Thanksgiving feast.

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake (recipe by Joanne Weir, inspired by Lindsey Shere, retired pastry chef of Chez Panisse; serves 8-10)

1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 pound cranberries
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon plus a few drops vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Place 4 tablespoons of the butter and the brown sugar in a 9-inch cake pan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is melted, 1 minute. Swirl to coat the sides with the butter. Place the cranberries on top of the melted butter and sugar. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cream the remaining 8 tablespoons butter and the sugar together in another bowl. Add the egg yolks to the creamed mixture, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 1 teaspoon of the vanilla and mix well. Add the milk alternately with the dry ingredients, folding well after each addition.

Beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until the peaks hold their shape. Fold the whites into the cake batter. Spread the batter over the fruit in the cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven and run a small knife around the edge of the pan. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a serving platter and let it sit for another 5 minutes with the pan on the top. Remove the pan.

Whip the cream to soft peaks. Add a few drops of vanilla and the confectioners’ sugar and mix.

Serve slices of cake with the softly whipped cream.

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