Personally, I don’t think I could ever collect too many cranberry recipes. Talk about fresh, local, and seasonal– for those of us in the northeast, cranberries completely fit the ideal of what is “in” right now, foodwise. Plus they are pretty, like little jewels and they freeze so easily. You can just take that fresh bag of cranberries you bought at the store and throw it in the freezer if it looks like you are not going to use it in time. Once these shiny red berries begin appearing at the market in abundance, there is no way I can wait until thanksgiving to cook and bake with them. Luckily, I am a recipe and cookbook hoarder, and when I was looking through my fall clippings from years and years worth of Gourmet magazines (sniff…sigh) I found this little gem from the November 2005 issue.
This Cranberry Walnut Cake is made here in a 10-inch cast iron pan, but if you do not have one of those, a sturdy 10-inch cake pan should be fine. Just make the topping in a saucepan first and transfer it to the cake pan (which you should grease in this case) right before you pour in the batter.
Cranberry Walnut Upside-Down Cake, from Gourmet, November 2005
Active Time: 30 minutes
Start to Finish: 2-ish hours (including cooling)
Serves 8 (so they say)
For the Topping
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter or earth balance spread
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (I used 1/2 a cup and it was plenty)
1 3/4 cups (7 oz.) fresh or frozen cranberries- if frozen, do not thaw
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (3 oz.), toasted (10 minutes at 325 F should do it)
For the Cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used whole pastry, and it worked just fine)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter or 8 Tbs Earth Balance margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar (I used 1/2 cup)
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk or soy milk with 2 tsp of apple cider vinegar stirred in, to curdle it (this is my standard substitute for buttermilk, and works well, and tastes really good. Just let it sit for a few minutes so the vinegar can work, before adding to the other ingredients)
Melt the butter of Earth Balance in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over moderate heat, then swirl to coat bottom and side of skillet and stir in brown sugar.
Simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved, 1 – 2 minutes, then sprinkle cranberries and walnuts evenly over the mixture and remove from heat.
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 F.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat together butter/Earth Balance and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until light and fluffy, 4 -6 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture alternately in batches with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until just combined. DO NOT OVERMIX.
Heat topping in skillet over moderately night heat until it starts to bubble, then gently spoon the batter over the topping and spread evenly. Quickly transfer to oven; bake until cake is golden brown and a wooden skewer comes out clean (or whatever sharp pokey thing you have on hand), ~25 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack for 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the inside edge of pan and invert cake onto plate. Cool completely on plate, on rack ~ 1 hour (or as long as you can stand it). Serve at room temperature.
You can make this cake ahead and keep, wrapped in plastic wrap at room temp for one day- after that I would recommend refrigerating it.