Gingered Cranberry Pumpkin Upside-Down Cake



1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 1/2 cups fresh or defrosted frozen cranberries


1/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (canned) pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch sea salt

Preheat oven to 350. Heavily butter an 8-inch cake pan. Set aside.

For the topping:

In a small saucepan, melt and stir together butter, brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon fresh ginger. Cook over low heat for about 5 minutes. whisking occasionally to dissolve the sugar, or until it thickens slightly. Stir in the cranberries. Pour the mixture into the bottom of the cake pan. Set aside.

For the cake:

Cream together the softened butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs and beat until fluffy. Beat in the pumpkin and vanilla until well combined. Whisk together the spices, baking powder and flour in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture. The batter should be rather thick. Spoon over the cranberry layer and bake 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan 5 minutes to let the molten fruit settle then carefully invert onto a flat, heat-proof plate. Cool completely, on the plate, over a wire rack.

Serves around 8.

My thoughts:

My husband managed to melt the display panel and the bottom half of the oven controls while making dinner Sunday. Let it be a warning to you all not to let a very hot small enameled cast-iron French oven get wedged against the apparently too low control panel on the back of your stove while making your kasha-stuffed twice baked potatoes. After panicking, we called around and found someone who came out in just a couple days and replace the part (after several calls to people who said they could install it in 2-3 weeks or who nearly wanted as much to come out as they wanted to–possibly–repair it). Support small businesses! I’m just glad it was early enough that we avoided being stuck in the queue with people who figured out 2 days before Thanksgiving that their oven doesn’t work.

To celebrate my return to the working oven world, I thought I’d make a quick, yet holiday-worthy cake. As the years go by the more I realize that while I like eating cake with lovely swirls of icing, I don’t really enjoy making them. There are only two people in our family and making a whole regular sized cake (unless we happen to be entertaining or invited somewhere) seems a bit wasteful. Plus every time I make a frosted cake, I realize all over again just how time-consuming they are. The waiting and cooling time always seems interminable.

No such problems with an upside-down cake! No need to ice, it mixes together in about 15 minutes and bakes for less than 45. Sure you have to wait for it cool but it naturally looks very pretty with the fruit on top and once it’s done, it’s done. It’s a little nerve-wracking when you are tipping it out of the pan but if you buttered your pan well, it should come out easily. An added bonus is that it only serves about 8 so it is perfect for smaller families while still having enough to share or have a slice leftover for breakfast the next day.

At the last minute, I decided to make this a cranberry pumpkin cake. I was just going to go with a simple ginger cake base but pumpkin desserts are so popular at Thanksgiving, it’s always nice to have one that isn’t pumpkin pie (yuck) and doesn’t use pumpkin pie spice. You get plenty of ginger flavor thanks to using both ground and fresh ginger and the allspice adds that autumnal flavor a November cake needs.

The pineapple upside-down cake I made years ago will always be my favorite of the upside-down cake recipes I’ve created but this one is a very close second. It smells amazing while baking; it is full of warm spices, rich pumpkin and the perfect amount of tartness is present thanks to the cranberries. Plus you can make it a full day before serving, making it perfect for the holidays.

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