Merry Berry Christmas

12 December 2012

Cranberry Cake

There aren’t many things that I won’t eat, and I approach most dining experiences with an open mind, but any hot, stodgy nursery pudding fills me with dread, especially the Yuletide variety. That sort of dessert doesn’t exist in the Christmas memories of my childhood spent in sunny Southern California. Give me a sliver of warm pecan tart, something chocolaty, or at a push, pumpkin pie to finish off a leisurely Christmas meal.

This recipe is a halfway meeting point for those diehards who desire a bit of a warm ‘pudding’ and for those, like myself, who prefer lighter holiday fare. This cake looks beautiful and festive, the cranberries glistening like jewels. Best of all it is easy to prepare, leaving more time to enjoy the conviviality of the season. Although fresh cranberries are abundant at this time of the year, frozen will do fine. Just don’t defrost them before using.

Cranberry-Orange Upside-Down Cake

Serves 8


– 75g unsalted butter
– 150g soft brown sugar
– 300g fresh cranberries
– One orange, zested and juiced (save zest for cake)



– 225g plain flour
– 2 teaspoons baking powder
– ¼ teaspoon sea salt
– 125 g unsalted butter, room temperature
– 225g caster sugar
– zest of one orange (see above)
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 2 free range eggs
– 150ml milk

To make the topping, place the butter and brown sugar in a 25cm round cake pan with 8cm sides (do not use a springform pan). Set the pan directly over low heat and melt the mixture, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. When the mixture starts to caramelise and starts to turn a slightly darker shade of brown, remove and allow to cool. Scatter the cranberries evenly in the bottom of the pan and drizzle over the orange juice. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180°c

To make the cake batter, mix the flour, baking powder and salt in

to a bowl. In another large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and caster sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, making sure they are thoroughly incorporated into the mixture. Stir in the milk. Fold in the flour mixture.

Pour the batter over the cranberry mixture, spreading evenly over the top to cover the cranberries. Bake until the top is golden and the cake pulls away slightly from the sides of the pan, about 50 to 60 minutes. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes before running a knife around the edge of the pan and inverting the cake onto a serving plate. It is best served warm with slightly sweetened whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or crème fraiche, although it can be prepared a day in advance and served at room temperature.