Tuesday, September 14, 2010

{TWD} Cranberry Upside-Downer Cake

This week the Tuesdays With Dorie baking group got a jump-start on cool-weather baking with the Cranberry Upside Downer, a fairly simple butter cake festively topped with bright red cranberries and chopped nuts (or alternatively with cut peaches). As pictured in Dorie Greenspan's wonderful book Baking From My Home to Yours the cake looks like the perfect addition to a holiday menu, so I was thrilled to get to preview this recipe now, at the very beginning of the Fall (even if the temperatures around here are still decidedly summer-ish).

n.o.e.'s notes:

- Sabrina of the blog Superfluous chose the recipe this week. If you'd like to bake this cake, you can find the recipe on her post.

- There was no special occasion on my calendar for me to serve this cake, so I baked just half a recipe in a 6" cake pan and we enjoyed it as a weeknight dessert.

- I replaced the white sugar with blond palm sugar. It has a wonderful caramel-y flavor and a lower glycemic load than regular sugar.

- Rather than cinnamon, I added freshly ground nutmeg and allspice to my dry ingredients. I chose the almond extract option rather than vanilla.

- My nut drawer had a bag of very tiny pecans, which is what I used in the topping. I lightly toasted them in the oven before placing the in the baking pan with the cranberries.

- The local Fresh Market carries a line of frozen berries all year long, including cranberries, so that's what I used. I cut them in half while they were still frozen because I love the "wagon wheel" effect from the cut berries.

- I wanted plenty of topping, so I used a heaping measure of pecans and cranberries but it still made rather a thin layer of topping. The next time I'd probably double the amount of topping.

- My 6" cake baked for 25 minutes.

- I was excited to use my new little 1-cup copper saucier twice - first for cooking the melted butter and sugar and the next time for warming the jelly that glazes the cake at the end. I used a mixture of black cherry and apple jelly because I still don't have the versatile and useful red currant jelly.

the verdict:

We enjoyed the cake for dinner on Monday and breakfast this morning! As far as cakes-with-fruit go, this one doesn't unseat the Dimply Plum Cake (which I posted here and followed up here), but it was a great weekday sweet to have on hand. It would also be a good addition to the holiday table, served with some vanilla ice cream.

The crumb was surprisingly soft and quite moist and provided a lovely sweet base for the topping's tart/sweet/crunchy combination of flavors. As an alternative to cranberries, in addition to the peaches that Dorie mentions this cake could be paired with any number of different fresh fruits (the tarter the better).


Di said...

Mmm, I love nutmeg. I ended up using cinnamon and cardamom since I had plums as well as cranberries. And I just realized I totally forgot about the glaze. =) Glad to hear that you guys enjoyed this one.

natalia said...

Ciao ! I love the looks ( and smell) of your fantastic cake !

Flourchild said...

It looks so pretty and moist! Im glad you all enjoyed it!
I used cherries!

Hindy said...

I love the effect of using the halved pecans. Your cake looks beautiful.

Eliana said...

Hmmm - Looks so delicious Nancy :)

Jeannette said...

your cake looks beautiful enough to be the cover of a christmas card! those cranberries look almost like jewels!!

margot said...

Your cake looks wonderful! For some reason I didn't really like the cinnamon with the cranberries; your changes sound good to me.

Peggy said...

Beautiful cake. You liked the dimply plum better? I think we liked this one better. Maybe I just love cranberries! It means Thanksgiving is just around the corner and that is my favorite holiday.

Barbara said...

Yum. This sounds great, Nancy. Very seasonal too. Glad to hear you liked it..
Now I'm going to read about your plum cake!

dharmagirl said...

a lovely cake! we are just shy of cranberry season here, so i'm waiting to make it with the first berries of the season.

is your saucier from paris?!?

Kayte said...

Your combination of ingredients sounds really nice, love all of those together. What a cute little saucepan, very fun to have that sitting around. It all looks just great, so pretty.

Beth said...

What a gorgeous cake! I love the look of the cranberries on top.

Cathy said...

We loved this cake too. It definitely makes a great dinner and breakfast the next day. Great choices on the spices and extract! Glad that you enjoyed this, even if it didn't quite unseat the dimply plum cake (which I really need to try again - I messed that one up six ways to Sunday). Gorgeous cake!