Upside-down cakes are, like me, short in stature. In order to give this a much-needed boost to enable it to stand tall and proud at the pageant of desserts that is post-turkey Thanksgiving dinner, I doubled the cake component and added a filling sweetened by raspberry preserves. When the makeover is complete, a once-humble cake becomes a scene-making dessert. I love the crunch of the chopped nuts and the zing of the ginger, but you can substitute hazelnuts for another type and omit the ginger, if you like.
This recipe was adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Cranberry Upside-Downer, published in Baking From My Home to Yours. —Sarah Jampel
1, 9-inch double layer cake
For the cake:
plus 2 sticks butter, divided
cranberries, fresh or frozen
chopped candied ginger, more to taste
Make the filling first: Add the cranberries, the ginger, the sugar, and 1/2 cup of water to a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring and mashing a little, until the cranberries begin to pop and the mixture becomes thick. Then add in the raspberry jam and mix it into the cranberry sauce until everything is smooth and incorporated. Taste for sugar, adding more as needed. (This will make extra jam, but I was extremely happy about it. I kept it in my refrigerator all week and ate it with yogurt, by the spoonful, and on Merrill's Cream Biscuits.)
Now start on the cakes! Preheat the oven to 350° F. Get out two 9- x 2-inch cake pans and two baking sheets.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
Butter and flour the sides of one of the cake pans (not the bottom). In a small saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons of butter. Sprinkle in 6 tablespoons of sugar and cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. Pour this evenly over the bottom of the cake pan, then scatter over the cranberries, chopped nuts, and chopped candied ginger. Smooth this layer out evenly with a spatula, pressing down gently. Set aside.
Use a stand mixer or hand beaters to beat the remaining 2 sticks of butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the brown sugar and continue to beat until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla.
Reduce the mixer to low speed and add 1/2 of the dry ingredients, mixing until they've only just disappeared into the batter. Mix in the milk, then the rest of the dry ingredients.
Divide the batter in half (you'll want to use a kitchen scale if you're aiming for even layers). Spoon half of the batter over the cake pan with the cranberry layer and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Set the pan on a baking sheet, then butter and flour the other cake pan. Spoon the remaining batter into this cake pan, and again, smooth the top, then set the pan on a baking sheet. Put both cake pans in the oven for 40 minutes, rotating them at 20 minutes. When the cakes are golden brown and a knife inserted into the centers come out clean, they're ready to be removed from the oven (this could take up to 45 minutes, maybe more).
When the cakes come out of the oven, use a blunt knife to loosen the sides. Cool the upside down cake in the pan for 10 minutes on the rack. Run your knife around it again. Invert the cake onto a flat platter or cutting board and let it sit with the pan holding it in place for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, invert the plain cake onto a wire rack and let it cool. Remove the hot pan from the inverted cake and allow it to come to room temperature. Before assembling the cake, put the upside down layer in the refrigerator until it's thoroughly chilled.
Spread the cran-raspberry jam on the plain layer, then carefully lift the cranberry cake (it works well to use two big spatulas) and place it on top, cranberry side up.
To make the ginger whipped cream, whip the chilled cream, the confectioners' sugar, and the ground ginger until you get soft peaks. Taste for the ginger, whipping in more as you like.
A (former) student of English, a lover of raisins, a user of comma splices. My spirit animal is an eggplant. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream. For that, I'm sorry.