One thing I love about winter is that cranberries are easy to get. It's one of those seasonal fruits that actually stays relatively seasonal, even at the stores. That makes it a little easier for someone like me who is trying to eat more seasonally. I watched a show a couple weeks ago that showed how they wet-harvested the cranberries. It was really fascinating, but those big bogs looked like a lot of hard work. I wonder... could you have a mini hand-made bog for a small-scale homestead? Hmm...
Cranberry recipes are some of my favorite. I love how festively red cranberries are with that wonderful zippy tartness. Below is a recipe that I adore. It's got special meaning for me, as I made this cake for my husband's and my wedding cake for our marriage in December '05. It was absolutely beautiful! (See the picture above.) I wanted to start a new holiday tradition with our family of making it every Christmas, which we did this year. That first bite sure brought back a lot of memories! I hope you enjoy this cake as much as we do.
Cranberry Upside-Down Cake*
Yields one 9-inch round cake; serves twelve.
1 cup very soft unsalted butter; more for the pan
1 cup very firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen (thawed, rinsed, and dried), at room temp.
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
1¾ cup cake flour (this is a much finer flour than all-purpose flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan with sides at least 2½ inches high. (A springform pan will work; just be sure to set it on a foil lined baking sheet to catch any leaks.)
2. Put 4 Tbsp. of the butter in the buttered pan. Put the pan in the oven until the butter melts, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and stir in the brown sugar and cinnamon until well combined. Spread the brown sugar mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan and spread the cranberries evenly over the sugar.
3. Put the remaining 12 tablespoons of butter in a medium bowl. Using a wooden spoon, cream the butter with the granulated sugar and egg yolk until blended, about 20 seconds. Switch to a whisk and stir in the eggs one at a time. Whisk until the batter is smooth and the sugar begins to dissolve, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the sour cream, vanilla, and salt. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and baking soda directly onto the batter. Using the whisk, combine the ingredients until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps.
4. Spread the batter evenly over the cranberry mixture in the cake pan. Bake until the center of the cake springs back when gently touched and a skewer inserted in the center comes out with only moist crumbs clinging to it, 50 to 65 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool for 5 to 10 minutes (the cranberry syrup in the bottom of the pan will be too thick if you wait longer). Run a knife between the cake and sides of the pan. Invert the cake onto a serving plate and remove the pan. Let it cool for at least 15 minutes more before serving. This cake is best served warm and fresh.
* From Fine Cooking – Holiday Baking magazine, Winter 2005