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Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Cranberry upside-down cake with a large piece missing, on a white plate with a serving knife beside it.
The Grand Marnier (an orange liqueur) gives the cake a pleasant kick that plays beautifully with cranberry. Making this tender, buttery cake provides a perfect excuse to share a slice over the backyard fence, maybe with someone who’s short on their own cranberry source.
Zoë François

Prep 40 mins
Cook 55 mins
Total 1 hr 40 mins
Dessert
American
6 to 8 servings
699 kcal

Ingredients 

  • 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature, divided, plus more for the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar divided
  • 4 tablespoons Grand Marnier divided
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries thawed if frozen and patted very dry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk at room temperature

Directions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Generously butter a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan, then line the bottom and sides with buttered parchment paper. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. (Don’t be tempted to skip this step. There is a good chance that some sticky red liquid is going to leak out during baking.)
  • In a small saucepan over low heat, combine 1/4 cup (2 oz | 57 g) of the butter, 1/2 cup of the sugar (100 g), 2 tablespoons of the Grand Marnier (30 ml), and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, just until melted, about 2 minutes.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, then scatter the cranberries over the top.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the remaining 3/4 cup (6 oz |170 g) butter on medium-high speed until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes.
  • Turn the mixer speed to low, add the remaining 1 cup sugar (200 g) and the vanilla, and mix until incorporated, about 1 minute.
  • Then turn the speed to medium-high and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes more. Scrape the bowl often for even incorporation.
  • Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined. Scrape the bowl after each addition.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  • In a liquid measuring cup, stir together the buttermilk and remaining 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (30 ml).
  • Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing on low speed, just until combined. Add one-half of the buttermilk mixture and mix to incorporate. Repeat with another one-third flour, the remaining liquid, and then finish with the final one-third flour, scraping the bowl and paddle after each addition.
  • Scrape the batter into the springform pan, covering the cranberries, then smooth the top with a spatula. Gently tap the pan on the counter several times to release excess air bubbles. Set the pan on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake until the cake is golden and a tester comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes.
  • Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and undo the side of the springform. Invert onto a serving plate, allowing the base to drop with the cake, gently peel off the base and parchment. Serve the cake slightly warm.

Notes

VARIATION--Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

This rhubarb version is equally tart and wonderful. Replace the cranberries with 4 cups coarsely chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb, swap the Grand Marnier for crème de cassis, and proceed as directed.
Rhubarb upside-down cake top layer in a Springform pan lined with parchment paper.