Cran-Raspberry Upside-Down Cake

Today, we’re celebrating Rose’s win at the annual awards of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. The Baking Bible took home the 2014 award for the “Baking: Savory or Sweet” Cookbook of the year. A big congratulations, to both Rose and her assistant, Woody! If you’re interested, the full list of the awards is available at the Washington Post.

This week’s assignment from the award winning cookbook 😀 was cranberry upside-down cake. I went into this with fairly low expectations for appreciation from the other resident of this house, given the cranberry component. He’s generally not a cooked squishy fruit fan, and cranberries are the bottom of that list of “no thanks” fruits, where the bottom is the worst of the worst. The recipe includes rhubarb as an alternative, but Jay’s not a rhubarb person, either. In fact, I think the only things I’d ever seen him eat with rhubarb or cranberries are things my Grandma made.

Dessert for 2
Dessert for 2

Besides, I had local-ish cranberries in the freezer from when I stocked up last fall, before Herrles (a farm market that sells local produce) closed for the season. On top of that, my rhubarb cravings were satisfied last week, when a friend brought rhubarb platz to work, in exchange for borrowing some cake pans to make a birthday cake for his wife. The filling recipe apparently included “boiling the piss out of rhubarb,” then straining it, which left him with a mass of rhubarb goo that he didn’t want to waste. I suggested rhubarb platz, which is pretty much my favourite spring treat. I apparently sent the link to my go-to recipe too late, but his hastily googled recipe choice didn’t disappoint. 🙂

Cranberries from Herrles
Cranberries from Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh, via Herrles

Johnston’s cranberry marsh is apparently up in the Muskoka lakes region. As an aside, I can hardly wait for Herrles to open again for the season in June. They’re doing some renovations and adding on to the front of the store, and I’m looking forward to seeing the results – on top of my normal seasonal anticipation of fresh local produce. I drive by every day on the way to work, so I’m curious.

The first step in this cake is to boil some sugar & butter together to make a layer of caramel for the bottom of the pan. I didn’t get any action shots of this, because I’ve found that attempting to take pictures while making caramel makes for not so good caramel.

Ready for the batter
Ready for the batter

After pouring the caramelized sugar into the bottom of the pan, you top it with a layer of cranberries – fresh or frozen. As I mentioned, mine came from the freezer.

Mixing the batter
Mixing the batter

The next step is the batter. This is a simple sour cream cake – mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter, sour cream. Then add eggs & sour cream and vanilla.

Thick cake batter
Thick cake batter

The result is a thick batter, which gets even thicker really quickly when you spread it on frozen cranberries, even if those cranberries have been sitting on hot caramel!

Smoothed and ready for the oven
Smoothed and ready for the oven

Smooth out the top of the cake, and put it into the oven, on a baking stone. While it bakes, heat up some raspberry jam, and pass it through a sieve to remove the seeds.

Competed cake & raspberry meringue
Competed cake & raspberry meringue

Brush the top of the cake with the strained raspberry jam, and you’ve got yourself a cake. Whip up some egg white+sugar+more strained jam, and you have a raspberry meringue to top it with. I must say, I appreciate that the number of egg yolks+whites balances out in this recipe.

I thought the cranberries got a little overcooked, so I probably should have skipped the baking stone. As far as the rest of it goes, the cake is nice and moist, and the meringue makes a light, sweet contrast to the cake. Probably not my favourite cake, but it’s an easy recipe, and comes together quickly. I remember a very similar cake from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes, but with plums & blueberries, so I suspect you could get away with lots of different fruits, here.  (side note: that old blog link reminds me of how far we’ve come on our home renovations over the last few years!)

As for other feedback… Imagine my shock when Jay said “This is really good. Can you keep it at home for us?” I’m starting to think that his reaction to some foods is right in line with some of my friends:

“I don’t like peanut butter cookies. I like YOUR peanut butter cookies.”

“I hate pecan pie, but I had a second piece of yours.”

“This can’t be cherry pie. I don’t like cherry pie.”

“I don’t like cherry pie, but this crust is fantastic.” … *eats the whole piece*

Or Jay, himself, with, “Good cookies. I can’t tell there are raisins in them. You must have done something right.”

4 thoughts on “Cran-Raspberry Upside-Down Cake

  1. I need to remember that also to stock up on cranberries… I do with blueberries and your cranberries look really good, not to mention your cake look so good!


  2. Thanks, Orin! I stock up on a few things at Herrles before they close every fall. Popcorn, butternut squash, honey, cranberries… I also converted some of their peaches into fruit leather, which I’m still snacking on, this time of year. It’s a great taste of summer!


  3. I made this one in January (because Rose book present). I wish I’d taken pictures now. It was… OK. Yes to overcooked cranberries, and the cake part is as you say, easy and that’s about it. Mind you, it didn’t last long out of the oven!

    And it didn’t look as glossy as the picture, alas! I want to try again with a bit more caramel and maybe a bit less cranberry, so that definitely only one layer, and maybe thinner too (bugger pan?) so that it doesn’t have to bake so long.


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