This crispy buttery sugary cranberry topping (originally the bottom) just pops with flavor and deliciousness.  Really.  This cake is so light and fluffy and is soo very easy to make and so pretty and sparkly on the table too.  Friends were coming for dinner the other night and I was determined to make something new.  I decided on 3 different and interesting tarts.  I’m not sure what happened but none of my doughs would come together.  I got frustrated, bagged the tarts, and reasoned (to myself) that my hand hurt anyway, so onto something (else) new.  I chose a sweet wine chiffon cake with honeyed oranges on the side.  I was psyched…I had my fruity dessert planned for Jason and Marco and decided that for chocolate lovers (the rest of us), I would try a new brownie (I know, another one), paired with ice cream, sorbet and special sauces.  (I’ll blog about that next.)  I started to feel funky about the cake soon after it went into the oven.  Then, it rose sooo high that it schmushed right ino the oven rack above it – and shaved the top off the cake.  And finally when it came out of the oven, it fell and oh, it smelled so eggy.  I was so bummed and friends were coming soon…Rob said – it’s enough, we have enough don’t make anything else!  But it wasn’t  enough for me.  So while he went out to Andy’s basketball game I quickly pulled together this cranberry cake in about 15 minutes (excluding baking time) and what a hit it ended up being.  As I said at the start, it explodes with the flavor of tart cranberries and sweet buttery brown sugar caramel too.  All but one slice was left at the end of the night and Jason exclaimed “this is so good!  delicious” – everyone agreed, even the chocolate lovers – oh and me too.

This is best served on the day it is made and soon after it comes out of the oven if possible.

Before you begin look at the ingredient list and pull the items that need (or are better) at room temp.

cranberry upside-down cake (from Baking Unplugged by Nicole Rees):

1 cup unsalted butter (room temp), and divided
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk (room temp)
2 large eggs (room temp)
2/3 cup sour-cream (room temp)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place baking rack in lower third of the oven.

Butter the sides of a 9 inch round cake pan (at least 2 inches tall).  Place 1/4 cup of the butter into the pan and place into the oven for about 3-5 minutes until the butter melts.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon evenly around the bottom of the pan.  Add a pinch or two of flaky salt (if you want, this deviates from Nicole’s recipe but I like the caramel salt mix).  Next spread the cranberries on top of the brown sugar as well.  Set aside.

On medium speed and with the paddle attachment of you mixer (or hand held beaters), beat the butter, sugar, and egg yolk until blended.  Just about 20-30 seconds.  Add the whole eggs, one at a time and beat until the batter is smooth – about 30 seconds.  Then add the sour cream, vanilla and salt – and blend until smooth.

Sift the cake flour, baking powder and baking soda directly over the batter.  Fold or mix until lump free.  Spread batter directly over the cranberries and brown sugar and bake for about 50-55 minutes – or until the cake springs back a bit when touched – or a tooth pick comes out with moist crumbs.

Let cool on rack for 5 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges and place serving plate on top of cake.  Invert the cake pan to unmold onto the plate.  Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Best warm and fresh out of oven, but Sylvie was very happy the next day eating the leftover piece.

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