Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

An Arizona Health Sciences colleague cannot eat anything with dairy in it; he’s actually allergic. This makes life hard for him. I mean…can you imagine having to ask whether or not something was made with butter or milk and then having to refuse it because of that? The only people who can fully understand his plight are probably vegans (or others with a problematic food allergy), and at least when you’re vegan it’s a choice you’ve made for yourself. Poor guy! For weeks now I have been obsessively thinking about making him some kind of lovely baked good (in my opinion, probably the harder thing to find dairy-less unless you want to spend a lot of cash at special health food stores) using vegan butter and almond milk.

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

I have brought food into the library for my colleagues before, but it always had milk in it so he never got to partake in its loveliness. So unfair of me. So I scavenged high and low on my cookbook shelf and found this recipe from the fanciful cookbook “Coffee” by Betty Rosbottom (link to buy this cookbook on the “Cookbooks” page). I have never been a fan of pineapple, so pineapple upside-down cake holds no intrigue for me. Cranberries, however, I adore. It’s always a good day when you get to eat a cranberry. I just love their jewel-toned tartiness–seductive little berries! When I made this recipe I added a couple tablespoons of almond milk because the mixture was not as pour-able as I wanted it to be. I’d keep some kind of milk or cream around in case you feel the same as I did.

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
Butter for greasing the pan

Cranberries:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries or frozen, thawed, and patted dry
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

Cake:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
pinch of salt
Confectioner’s sugar for serving

1. Arrange an oven rack at center position and preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. Generously butter an 8-inch straight-sided cake pan and set it aside.
3. To make the cranberry layer: Combine the 1/2 cup granulated sugar and orange juice in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir until the sugar dissolves, 1 minute or less. Add the butter and cook till it melts, a few seconds more.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cranberries and 1/2 teaspoon zest. Stir to coat them well.
5. Spoon the berries in a single layer into the prepared pan.
6. To make the cake layer: With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and 3/4 cup granulated sugar in a medium bowl until they are smooth and creamy, 3-4 minutes.
7. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, eggs, 2 teaspoons zest, baking powder, cardamom, and salt. Beat just till everything is combined.
8. Pour the batter over the cranberries in the pan, using a spatula to smooth the top evenly.
9. Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes.
10. Remove the pan from the oven and cool it 10 minutes.
11. To unmold, run a small knife around the inside edge of the cake pan. Cover the pan with a flat plate and invert.
12. The cake can be served warm or at room temperature, but is best served the day it is made. If not serving immediately, cool and leave it at room temperature, tented loosely with aluminum foil.
13. To serve, dust with confectioner’s sugar and slice it into portions.

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