I'm not sure when I first came to appreciate the cranberry. Maybe it was back at my Grandmother's dinner table when she'd serve up Thanksgiving dinner with cranberry-orange relish. I love the ornamental look of dried cranberries. My Dad strung some on a wire-framed heart to dry with a raffia bow (which looks great in our new red room, which is still not done, friends, but getting closer every day!). I love to wear the color, too.
I remember my husband and I touring the Ocean Spray museum in Cape Cod, and we learned everything you'd ever want to learn about cranberry harvesting. We were vacationing there before my sister's beach wedding that weekend, and I was very early pregnant with CJ. Didn't stop me from rollerblading on the riverwalk (though that was my last time for awhile). She loves cranberry juice, by the way.
Ah, cranberries.... Just don't spill them anywhere!
When I started scoping out recipes for Christmas brunch, this was one of those I pulled. It seemed difficult at the time, but every recipe seemed challenging then. I pull this one every year now, because it's seasonally perfect, can be prepared in advance (but you must warm it up!), and its ingredients combine to give the house that scent of Christmas that blends just right with a fresh tree (or not!).
Upside-Down Breakfast Cake
1/2 C (1 stick) plus 2 T unsalted butter, softened
1 C packed light brown sugar
2-1/2 C fresh cranberries, blueberries or blackberries
1-1/2 C unbleached all-purpose flour
2-1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3/4 C granulated sugar
1/2 C freshly squeezed orange juice (for cranberries) or 1/4 C freshly squeezed lemon juice (for blueberries or blackberries) [I used two large oranges for juice and zest.]
1/3 C low-fat milk
1/2 t vanilla extract
2 T grated orange zest (cranberries) or 1 T grated lemon zest (blueberries or blackberries)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine 2 T of the butter and the brown sugar in a small bowl, then spread the mixture evenly in the bottom of a lightly greased 9” round cake pan. Spread the berries over the mixture and set aside. [I have found that a 9" pie plate works well, too. Please put a baking pan under your cake pan or pie plate, because it can cook up big!]
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Reserve.
In a separate bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 C butter, the sugar, and the eggs, and beat until creamy smooth. Add the reserved dry ingredients, juice, milk, vanilla and zest, and beat until well blended. Pour the batter over the berries and bake until the top is golden and a skewer tests clean when inserted in the center, 50-55 minutes.
Remove from the oven, run a knife around the inside edge of the pan, cover the cake with a serving plate, and invert the cake onto the plate, fruit side up. Cool slightly before serving warm.
Makes one 9” cake; serves 8 to 12. From James McNair's Breakfast.