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Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Each year, just before the turn of the new year, marks the anniversary of the day I quit graduate school in physics. Though it has only been three years, it feels like a lifetime ago. I feel so much older than that bright eyed girl with high hopes and soaring dreams. The hopes are no less great, but a touch of experience has tethered me a little closer to earth. I feel as if it is difficult to keep track of all the changes since then, all the emotions—positive and negative, exciting and disappointing—that I have passed through. I’m older. Not just three years, but what feels like a decade in life and stress and growing.

I’m not the same person I was then, but I wouldn’t want to change the person I’ve become.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake Cranberry Upside Down Cake

The past year has been exhausting. I feel as if I have been running forward, so eager to get on my path, to find where I am supposed to be, that I’ve forgotten to stop and just breathe. I have been trying to do too much, a phrase which has become my unwanted motto for many, many months. Some lessons take longer to learn than others. Since I stopped baking professionally over a year ago, I went back to grad school for a masters in education, with the goal of becoming a high school physics teacher.

When I stopped pursuing physics, I swore up and down (and left and right) that I would never stray towards science again. I had convinced myself so thoroughly of this that I threw away every physics notebook I had kept all the way back to high school in a ceremonial sweep (a sin that I have since regretted).

Cranberry Upside Down Cake Cranberry Upside Down Cake

In August, I took on my first teaching job—you can call me Ms. Rosenau now. Teaching for the first time is a whirlwind. I feel as if I should have been a little more forewarned of the adventure ahead. Teaching is more overwhelming and challenging than I could have imagined, consuming all of my time and energy to create entire curriculums from scratch. Teaching is also extraordinarily rewarding. There truly is never a dull moment when surrounded by 80 sixteen and seventeen year olds both eager to learn and hungry to distract.

If you had told me three years ago that this is where I would have ended up, I may have very well laughed in your face. Life, I found, keeps me on my toes. Once I am certain I have everything figured out, it throws another curve in my path and sends me in a new direction. Even so, right now this is where I feel like I am meant to be. I just hope that life waits a few more years before sending me around the next bend.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Cranberry Upside Down Cake is tart, textured, and colorful enough to impress your holiday guests. The cranberries are cooked on the stove until they "pop" and release their juices. Mixed with raspberries and a bit of orange zest, it forms the bottom (or "top") of the cake. A quick cake batter is mixed up, which is made with brown sugar and sliced almonds for a bit of texture and greater depth of flavor. The cake itself is on the tarter side, but will not make you wish for more sugar. Share with family and friends to bring out the holiday spirit.

One Year Ago: Pumpkin Pie Espresso Bars, Maple Roasted Chickpeas, and Gingerbread Muffins
Two Years Ago: Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins, Cranberry Orange Brioche Rolls, and Cranberry Sauce
Three Years Ago: 30-Second Sangria, Raspberry Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee, and "Please, Sir, Can I Have S'more?" Cupcakes

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Yields 9-inch cake

12 ounces (340 grams) fresh cranberries
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar, divided
6 ounces (170 grams) raspberries, fresh or frozen
1 teaspoon orange zest
10 tablespoons (140 grams) butter, divided
1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup (160 ml) milk
1/2 cup (80 grams) sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 degrees C). Grease a 9-inch round pan with 2 tablespoons of butter, spreading an even thick layer on the bottom and sides. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, stir together the cranberries and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Cook over medium high heat until the cranberries burst and sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in the raspberries and orange zest. Pour into the prepared pan in an even layer.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the remaining 8 tablespoons butter with the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in the vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Mix in the ginger, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and flour. Beat in the milk until uniform. Fold in the sliced almonds.

Pour the cake batter over the berries and spread it evenly. Bake for 40-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes before flipping it over and turning it out onto a serving plate. If any of the berries stick to the bottom of the pan, loosen them with a flat spatula and arrange them back onto the cake—they will blend in nicely for a uniform appearance. Your guests (and my lovely readers) will never guess your secret.

Reader Comments (24)

Beautiful- the photos, the words and that delicious cake (I love cranberries this time of year!). I'm just starting to feel like I'm just starting to figure it out, if that makes sense - so I know well the weird paths that life can bring sometimes. Good for you for coming so far in only three years!
12.9.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRuthy @ Omeletta
This cake is seriously so genius!!!! And gorgeous too!
Wow the thoughts your career are so like mine. I spent year trying to get into the health field, hated left then I am back again.

I am simply stunned at how pretty your cake is. I love these rustic types; so much better tasting than the heavily frosted ones.
When I started reading your blog over a year ago, I saw some similarities between us. Your more recent posts have been about teaching, with which I empathize--I moved to a small town out of college to teach high school English. Best of luck; so far, the third year is the easiest!
12.9.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKate
Gorgeous, where did you get that beautiful wood? I love it!
A cranberry upside down cake? Genius! This sounds like the best possible Christmas eve dessert, along with a big spoonful of whipped cream and a tumbler of spiced eggnog. Yay!
12.9.2013 | Unregistered CommenterEileen
What a great idea! I'm loving all things cranberry right now!
Looks so deliciously festive. Great way to bring a bit of colour to the table.

12.10.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTrisha
This is so festive! And gorgeous. Love this flavour!
12.10.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKatrina @ WVS
"The past year has been exhausting. I feel as if I have been running forward, so eager to get on my path, to find where I am supposed to be, that I’ve forgotten to stop and just breathe. I have been trying to do too much, a phrase which has become my unwanted motto for many, many months."

Sometimes, it feels as if I have work-blinders on. "If I just endeavor a bit harder, everything will fall into place," I tell myself. I take on fifteen tasks at once because I am eager, but I have forgotten how to relax, how to breathe. Maybe this can be the goal for 2014: balance.
12.10.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCristina
Hello lovely!

It's been a minute. I'm as happy as ever to read your stories and share your journey via words, images, and flavors. A whirlwind year indeed! There's ever more to share, but for the moment, congrats and props for all the transitions you've taken on. I think of you often, and the various twists our, at times, parallel paths have taken. For my part, I decided to stay in France, and I've wound up responsible for a kitchen again--in fact a whole darn house; the guest house for visiting teachers at the Buddhist center that's my life these days. Funny where life takes us. Happiest of holidays to you, my dear, and all good wishes for what wonders come!

(This is a totally lame substitute for a more substantial e-mail I've been meaning to write for, oh let's not count the months. Which was originally a letter I started, but then you moved and I no longer had your address, excuses, etc. :) But I at least wanted to say hi. Hi!)

So much love!

12.10.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJourdie
I did something completely similar with an engineering degree and am now in my 10th year as a high school physics teacher. And I completely regretted every single physic paper that I ever threw out.

Love the idea for a cranberry upside down cake. It may have to make it into my repetoire.
12.10.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDebra
I've been out of school for just two years now and it's crazy how much you end up growing when you are freed from the standard education structure that is set up in our society. Having to decide my own path and what is worth my time has been both terribly frightening and rewarding. Love following along on your blog to read as you figure out your path parallel to me figuring out my own.
Your photography and setup is fantastic, as always, Kristin. There's an Asian expression regarding that, which I can't recall; something about food being 50% presentation or something in that regard.
12.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlan
Very nice recipe! I love the combination of almonds, ginger, brown sugar and red fruits. Congratulations also for the pictures! Wonderful!
This is the most beautiful cake! And it sounds fabulous! What a perfect idea for the holidays - I can imagine impressing my guests with this - so beautiful!
I'm starting to get really stressed about what career path I should go for. Although I still have plenty of time, I hate not knowing. Thank you for the kind words - I will try to relax.

The cake looks delicious! If only I could get my hands on some fresh cranberries...
12.13.2013 | Unregistered CommenterElsa
hey darling! this looks amazing! such a beautiful dessert. just a question, could I use strawberries instead of cranberries? I can't find them in my country :/
12.13.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaura
I, too, left "big science" to teach and have never regretted it for one minute. It's a frustrating, exhausting, demanding job that I wouldn't trade for anything because it's also rewarding and exhilarating and new every day. I find baking to be like doing experiments (yes, I do keep track of changes in recipes and weigh things in grams) but the results are far more delicious, and my students love it when I share!

Good for you for following your leading. And don't stop baking!
12.13.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteph
The most interesting people I've met in my life have had a tornado life/career path. Linear is so 1999 :D
Your cake looks delicious, and here's to more happy paths!
12.16.2013 | Unregistered Commenterfrancesca
Thank you for the recipe! I just made this for Christmas and it is absolutely delightful. I changed nothing, and the texture of the cake is moist and spongy and dense enough to hold up the cranberry topping, and my favorite thing about this is that it's not too sweet, but also not too tart. I'm definitely going to make this again, but I might not add the slivered almonds next time. Possibly I'll add orange zest to the cake in addition to the fruit. Many thanks!
12.27.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeca
so stunning. I'd actually love to make this, probably next year around the holidays though. I just tried a Trader Joe's version of the Cranberry Upsidedown Cake, so good. Bookmarking this.
12.27.2013 | Unregistered Commenterhoneywhatscooking
Making your delicious looking cake this morning to be enjoyed with friends and family after a snowshoe. Can't wait to taste it.
01.11.2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlenna
Amazingly amazing recipe and so gourmet looking and tasting! Couldn't find fresh or frozen cranberries, and was hesitant to experiment with dried cranberries, so I used frozen mixed berries- raspberry, black raspberry, and blueberry- and it turned out amazing and not bitter to my surprise. Also added orange zest to the cake batter as well as a teaspoon of cardamom only because I add cardamom to literally everything! Still want to try fresh cranberries! Thank you for sharing great photos of a cake that actually tastes great! Just perfect!
02.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterFatima

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