Cranberry Upside Down Cake
10 to 12 servings
This cake can also be made in a regular 9-inch (23cm) cake pan, one that is fine to heat on the stovetop if you don’t have a cast iron skillet. (If you don’t have a regular cake pan that can be put over direct heat, such as a glass or ceramic mold, you can heat the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan and pour it into whatever pan you’re using.) Don’t use a springform pan as the topping will almost certainly leak. If using frozen cranberries, no need to defrost them before using them. If you want to substitute other fruits, just arrange them in a pinwheel or haphazard design over the layer of brown sugar topping in place of the cranberries. If using slices of raw pineapple, sauté it first for a few minutes, until heated through.
4 tablespoons (55g/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed
3/4 cup (125g) packed light brown sugar
3 cups (280g/10 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 1/4 cups (175g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50g) coarse cornmeal or polenta
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (115g/4oz) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
grated zest of one lemon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (125ml) whole or low fat milk, at room temperature
1. In a 9- to 10-inch (23-25cm) cast iron skillet, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter and the brown sugar together, stirring frequently, until the sugar is moistened and liquefied. When the mixture starts to bubble, remove from heat and set the pan aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal or polenta, baking powder, and salt.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or by hand in a mixing bowl with a spatula, beat the ½ cup of butter, granulated sugar and lemon zest at medium high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until very light and fluffy.
5. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs one at a time, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides. Mix in the vanilla extract.
6. At low speed, add half of the flour mixture, then the milk, then the remaining dry ingredients, mixing just enough so that they’re all combined. Do not overmix.
7. Distribute the cranberries in the prepared pan over the brown sugar mixture and shake the pan so they are in a relatively even layer. Spoon the batter over the cranberries in four mounds, then use a spatula to spread the batter evenly over the fruit.
8. Bake the cake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven, wait 10 minutes, then run a knife around the cake. Place a serving platter overturned on top of the cake in the skillet, then using oven mitts to cover your hands, flip the two over simultaneously, until the cake releases from the pan.

Storage: The cake is best made and served the same day, warm if possible. To rewarm it, use some of the techniques mentioned in the post. It is also good served at room temperature. This cake isn’t a good candidate for freezing. But if you must, wrap it well and freeze it for up to two months.