Makes one 9-or 10-inch single-layer cake; serves about 8
This cake is made with spongecake instead of yellow cake and is topped with sugar-glazed cranberries, for a lighter, not-too-sweet variation on the upside-down theme. The recipe also works nicely with peaches or nectarines and with brown sugar substituted for white in the topping.
In the 1930s, the rage of home bakers was pineapple upside-down cake (also known as pineapple skillet cake). My friend, pastry chef-author Nick Malgieri, tells me that his Italian-speaking grandmother, who never learned English, knew how to make only one American dessert-pineapple upside-down cake. And my Russian-born grandmother had a friend teach her how to make it, too.
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups (about 1/2 pound) fresh or frozen
(unthawed) cranberries, rinsed and picked over
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, spooned
very lightly into a measuring cup
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 small lemon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Vanilla-flavored whipped cream, for serving (optional)
1. Cranberry Topping: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the sugar and cinnamon and cook until the sugar begins to dissolve. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch square cake pan or a 9-to-10-inch ovenproof skillet and tilt to coat well. Add the cranberries in an even layer; set aside.
2. Spongecake: Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt onto a sheet of wax paper; set aside. Place the eggs, sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until the mixture is very pale and thick and almost tripled in volume, about 10 minutes. Turn off the mixer.
3. Spoon a large dollop of the beaten egg mixture into a small bowl. Add the melted butter and the vanilla and fold together until blended; set the bowl aside.
4. Working fairly quickly, sprinkle the flour mixture, a few tablespoons at a time, over the large bowl of beaten eggs and fold in very lightly, but thoroughly. Quickly fold in the reserved butter-egg mixture. Pour the batter over the cranberries in the pan; spread gently to even the top.
5. Bake until the cake is puffed and lightly golden and the center springs back when pressed lightly, about 35 minutes.
6. Remove the cake from the oven, run the tip of a knife around the sides of the cake to loosen it, and immediately invert the cake onto a serving plate. Leave the pan on top of the cake. After a few minutes, carefully remove the pan. Serve the cake luke-warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream, if you like.
Classic Home Desserts
A Treasury of Heirloom and Contemporary Recipes
By Richard Sax
Houghton Mifflin, May 2000
688 pages, 48 color photographs
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created June 2000
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