Though cakes aren't always contenders for the Thanksgiving buffet, this one would be welcome at the holiday feast, with maple-soaked cranberries atop a soft, almond-scented cake. Of course, you needn't serve it just once a year; enjoy the dessert throughout the fall and winter, when cranberries are readily available.
Butter an 8-inch round cake pan; dust with flour, tapping out excess. In a large skillet, heat 6 tablespoons butter over medium until sizzling. Add cranberries; cook until shiny, about 2 minutes. Add maple syrup and cinnamon. Cook, stirring frequently, until cranberries soften but still hold their shape, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
With a slotted spoon, transfer cranberries to a baking sheet to cool slightly before arranging in prepared cake pan. Return skillet to medium heat and cook until syrup boils and thickens, 3 to 4 minutes; do not overcook. Immediately pour syrup over cranberries; let cool, about 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F, with rack in center. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk in cornmeal with a fork.
With an electric mixer on medium, beat remaining 6 tablespoons butter and the almond paste until well combined, about 30 seconds. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar; beat until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolks; beat until well combined. Beat in vanilla and almond extracts. Add flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until just combined.
In a clean bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-low, whisk egg whites until foamy. Slowly add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Raise speed to high and beat until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Whisk one third of the whites into batter; fold in remaining whites.
Carefully spread batter over cranberries. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool 2 hours before inverting onto a serving plate.