My SO and I made this cake shortly after reading the recipe (Rees 2005) in Fine Cooking magazine a few months ago, and we loved it. It's a rich sour cream cake covered in gooey, brown-sugary cranberries. My SO prefers this cake to the more typical pineapple upside-down cake, though I must sadly admit that I can't recall ever eating pineapple upside-down cake, so I can't compare the two. Since we made this last week, it seems like a good end-of-the-week recipe blogging post.
Aside from having to bring all the ingredients to room temperature before you start, this cake is easy to make. It doesn't need icing or frosting, and can be served only 20 minutes after it comes out of the oven.
For the cranberry topping:
6 tablespoons butter
1 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
12 ounces (~3 cups) frozen or fresh whole cranberries, brought to room temperature and patted dry
For the cake batter:
12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature (very soft)
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
0) Bring the ingredients to room temperature; we usually leave them out on the counter for an hour or two. When the ingredients are at room temperature, preheat the oven to 350F.
To make the cranberry topping:
1) Put the 6 tablespoons butter in a 9" round cake pan, and put the pan in the oven until the butter melts.
2) Remove the pan from the oven; use a brush or tilt the pan to lightly butter the sides of the pan with the melted butter.
3) Thoroughly mix the brown sugar and cinnamon into the butter.
4) Distribute the cranberries evenly on top of the brown sugar mixture. Set the pan aside until the cake batter is ready.
To make the cake batter and bake the cake:
1) Cream the butter and sugar: mix until the sugar is completely incorporated into the butter, and the color and texture have lightened.
2) Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
3) Add the sour cream, vanilla, and salt, and stir to mix.
4) Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. In theory you should sift these together first, but we typically just add them all to the bowl and then mix the flour, baking powder, and baking soda together as we incorporate them into the batter. Mix until smooth.
5) Spoon the cake batter into the pan on top of the cranberries, and level the surface.
6) Bake at 350F for 50-65 minutes. To test whether the cake is done, poke a toothpick into the center of the cake and then remove it. If the toothpick pulls out only dry crumbs (or nothing), the cake is done; if the toothpick pulls out moist batter, bake the cake a few minutes more and test again.
7) Cool the cake on a rack for 5-10 minutes, and then invert the cake onto a plate. Remove the pan and let the cake cool at least another 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
We bake this cake in a silicone nonstick cake pan, which probably helps the cake release from the pan.
Whole cranberries are easily available (and cheap) in US supermarkets around Thanksgiving. They freeze very well, so we typically buy lots of them at Thanksgiving and then freeze them; we've found that they keep at least 6 months in the freezer in their original packaging (plastic bags with holes in them).
This recipe was modified from Rees 2005; the primary changes we made were to increase the amount of topping and simplify the cake batter slightly.
Rees, Nicole. 2005. Moist, Tender Snack Cakes: A bowl and a whisk are all you need. Fine cooking 68: 42-46.