Make Ahead

Thanksgiving cranberry upside down cake

November  8, 2010
3 Ratings
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

  • Serves about 8
  • 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
In This Recipe
  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.

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  • drbabs
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  • fiveandspice
I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (, where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.