Leena Bakes: Thanksgiving pt.3 Dessert- Cranberry upside down cake

By on Nov 22, 2010 in Cakes, Fruit, Leena Bakes | 0 comments

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One of my new favorite recipes--cranberry upside down cake from Chez Panisse Fruit cookbook!

This has to be my new favorite holiday dessert. It’s a bit sweet and a bit tart  five spice cranberry upside cake, inspired by a recipe in my Chez Panisse Fruits cookbook and from this post on The Joy of Baking. And if you are lucky enough to live in the U.S., you know that cranberries are a native fruit, making it the perfect fruit to focus on for a holiday dessert.

Food porn and the recipe after the jump.

Step one: melt butter and sugar together in the cake pan, then top with cranberries and Chinese five spice.

It is made exactly like you make a pineapple upside down cake–you melt butter and brown sugar in the cake pan together, sprinkle on the cranberries and any seasonings, then top with cake batter. When the cake is finished and cooled, the pan is inverted so the cranberries are on top, all caramelized and pretty and red and making ya hungry.

Like this.

The Chinese five spice gives this dessert a little extra kick of yum.

Recipe: Leena’s Cranberry Upside Down Cake with Five Spice

Summary: Inspired by a recipe from Chez Panisse Fruit and TheJoyofBaking.com


  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 8 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice (you can add or reduce amount to your tastes)
  • 1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Place the top rack in the center of the oven. Lightly butter and flour an 8 or 9 inch cake pan.
  2. For the topping, melt butter and sugar together, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Let this mix cook and caramelize, getting slightly browner, for a few minutes. Pour the caramel in to bottom of the greased cake pan, then sprinkle in the cranberries evenly across the top, and finish with the Chinese five spice.
  3. For the cake, sift the dry ingredients (flour, salt & baking powder–save the cream of tartar for later) together or give it a whirl in your food processer for 30 seconds to fully incorporate the all of the ingredients.
  4. Using a stand or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. After scraping down the sides of the bowl, mix in vanilla and eggs one at a time to ensure they fully integrate with the batter.
  5. Scrape the bowl again, then add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk in two parts so you end with the dry ingredients.
  6. Take a clean bowl and whisk together the egg whites and cream of tartar (this will stabilize the eggs) until they form stiff peaks. Fold the whipped egg whites into the cake batter in two parts, mixing well the first time and folding the last time.
  7. Pour batter on top of the cranberries in the cake pan, and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the top is browned and separating from the pan. Make sure to cool for at least 15-20 minutes to avoid painful burning of your hands by the molten-hot caramel. Run a knife around the cooled cake pan edges, place a plate on top of the pan, then flip it over so the top of the cake is on the bottom of the plate, and the cranberries are on the top.


I like to serve this with vanilla ice cream or an slightly sweetened whipped cream. Leftovers stay good for a few days if you store them wrapped in the fridge. And if you eat it all in one sitting, I won’t tell anyone. I will probably be doing the same thing myself.

Microformatting by hRecipe.

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