Make Ahead

Thanksgiving cranberry upside down cake

November  8, 2010
4 Ratings
  • Serves about 8
Author Notes

As soon as I became capable of baking, I was put in charge of Thanksgiving desserts (my dad was in charge of sweet potatoes and cranberries, my mom was in charge of everything else, and my brothers, well, they ate). In addition to pumpkin pie, this cake was a constant on the menu, and it held it's own against the pie as preferred dessert. It balances tart cranberries with the deep caramelly flavor of brown sugar, supported by a moist but not overly heavy cake. And even when we were way underage, cognac whipped cream was a must. —fiveandspice

What You'll Need
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter, plus a little more for greasing the sides of the pan
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries, washed
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter (unsalted)
  • 2 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons cognac
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and grease and 8X8" baking pan. Pour the 3 Tbs. melted butter into the pan and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Bake for 2 minutes, then remove from the oven and sprinkle in the pecans and the cranberries (the berries will make a fairly thick layer). Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt). In a large bowl, cream together the 3/4 cup sugar and the softened butter until well combined. Then, beat in the egg yolks and the vanilla.
  3. Add in the dry ingredients and the milk alternately in about 3 additions, mixing well after each addition. Start and end with the dry ingredients.
  4. In a standing mixer or using a clean electric mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
  5. Spread the batter over the cranberries and sugar in the baking pan. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the cake is golden and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean (unless you poke all the way down to the cranberries!). Cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges to loosen them. Place a plate upside down on top of the cake pan, then invert the cake onto the plate.
  6. In a chilled metal bowl and using chilled beaters beat the whipping cream and 2 Tbs. sugar until soft peaks form. Whip in the cognac.
  7. Serve the cake slightly warm topped with dollops of the cognac cream.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • drbabs
  • aargersi
  • Sagegreen
  • fiveandspice

7 Reviews

mariel November 11, 2013
Wonderful recipe--I added some pears to it and the contrast with the cranberries and the pears is delish! It works well with tempeh, too.
This new Thanksgiving Turkey Song is definitely fun to listen to and can get you in the mood for Thanksgiving food prep. Happy cooking! Just look up Thanksgiving Turkey Song by Ben Lovenheim. It's on youtube.

3 minutes ago mariel

It works well with tempeh, too.
Just came across this new Thanksgiving Turkey Song that if fun to listen to get you in the mood for Thanksgiving food prep. Happy cooking, and happy listening! It's on youtube and it's by Ben Lovenheim and is called Thanksgiving Turkey--cute illustrations, too.
drbabs November 8, 2010
I love cranberries, too, and I keep them in the freezer so I can have them all year long. Love this.
fiveandspice November 9, 2010
Thanks! If only my freezer weren't so darn full already, I'd be stockpiling cranberries too! I tried to dry some last year in a food dehydrator, but that was a disaster!
aargersi November 8, 2010
Oh yum. I love cranberries ... this sounds like a great way to use them!!!
fiveandspice November 8, 2010
Sagegreen November 8, 2010
Sounds great! I hope you post a photo. I was going to do a cranberry cheesecake, but probably won't get to it. This sounds even better.
fiveandspice November 8, 2010
Ooh, well if you have a recipe for cranberry cheesecake, I hope you at least share it at some point! I don't have a photo of the cake right now because I haven't made it since last Thanksgiving (I only eat pumpkin pie and cranberry cake 1 time per year! Which, actually is kind of sad when I think about it that way because they're two of my favorite things). I'll have to go check and see if I have a photo from last year, or else maybe make it a little early this year :).