Cranberry Cornmeal Upside-down Cake

~Molly & Jamie At the Green Market~

From Food Stylist Molly:

Happy New Year! We’ve had a snowy start, but I have good feelings about 2011. And despite what other people say, I love the snow! I love walking through the city and seeing the quiet transformation all things undergo when covered in freshly fallen snow.

*Heart of Lovikka hat, mittens & scarf!

This month, Jamie and I were playing around with cranberries. Cranberries have their peak season September-December and are a good source of nutrients and antioxidants. Massachusetts is known for its cranberry bogs (thank you, Cape Cod cranberry juice), and while I was home for the holidays I was able to pick up a bunch of the beautiful local cranberries that were in season. Cranberries freeze beautifully, so after making a few batches of cranberry sauce the rest went straight into my freezer.

Admittedly, after the latest snow storm, I had had about enough of the snow and wanted nothing more than to watch it fall from my window over a hot cup of tea. Needing to satisfy my sweet tooth, I made a Cranberry Cornmeal Upside-down Cake. It is the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon cup of tea or could even be served with a little whipped cream for dessert.

Cranberry Cornmeal Upside-down Cake

Adapted from Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Fruit

Cranberry Topping:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 2 1/2 cups cranberries, picked over and rinsed

Cornmeal Cake:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup flint cornmeal (regular cornmeal may be substituted) Flint cornmeal may be found at: 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease an 8” or 9” cake pan and set side.

Pour the sugar and water into a saucepan and place over medium heat. When the sugar starts to dissolve, swirl the pan to help the sugar cook evenly. Continue to occasionally swirl the pan until you see the sugar start to develop color. When the sugar becomes a lovely, light chestnut color add the butter and continue to swirl the pan gently. Be careful when adding the butter as this causes the caramel to bubble up vigorously. Once the butter has melted completely, quickly pour the caramel into the prepared cake pan.

 Let the caramel cool slightly. Pour the cranberries over the caramel and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Whisk together and set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Separate the egg yolks and whites into two small bowls. Add the egg yolks to the creamed butter one at a time until fully incorporated. Add the vanilla. Incorporate the milk and flour mixture by alternating the two. Add the flour in thirds, adding about half of the milk between each addition, and ending with the remaining flour. Mix until just combined and set aside.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk vigorously until the whites form stiff peaks. Fold the stiff egg whites into the cornmeal batter in two batches. 

Pour the batter over the cranberries and smooth over with a spatula to create an even, smooth layer.

Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes, until the top is golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake sit for 15 minutes. Carefully run an offset spatula or knife around the edge of the pan to help loosen the cake. Place a cake plate over the pan, and wearing oven mitts, invert the cake onto the plate and remove the pan. Best served warm.

~ Recipe and words by Food Stylist, Molly Shuster. Photography by me.

An ongoing collaboration, please do see more recipes from our series!

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