When my favorite little niece was surprised to see a lack of fresh, homemade cranberry sauce on the Thanksgiving table this year, I took it upon myself to treat her to something even a little bit better this Christmas.

Cranberry and orange spiced cake.

With all the other traditional Christmas adornments across the table, this was truly a hit for my little one!

And trust me, it’s not just for Christmas ~

Cranberry Orange Upside Down Cake

Fresh Cranberry Sauce:
1/2 cup fresh orange juice, from one orange
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup + 2 Tbs. sugar
12 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries
zest of one orange, about 2 tsp.
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of sea salt

Bring orange juice, water and sugar to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Add cranberries, orange zest, cinnamon, and salt and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and boil gently for about 10 minutes, until most of cranberries have burst open.

Cover and chill until ready to use.

Vanilla Cake:
1 cup butter, room temperature, + 1-2 Tbs. for greasing the pan
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sea salt
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup safflower oil
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
1 cup milk

1 navel orange, very thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter the bottoms and sides of two 9-inch round cake pans (or several smaller cake or bread pans). Line the bottom with parchment paper.
Delicately lay the thinly sliced oranges over the parchment.
Cover with the chilled cranberry sauce – dividing equally between the pans.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Beat the butter, sugar and oil in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla, until combined.
Alternate folding the flour mixture and the milk into the batter with a spatula, adding the flour in three additions and the milk in two, starting and ending with the flour, until just smooth. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

Bake the cakes on the same oven rack until golden on top and the centers spring back to the touch, 35 to 40 minutes.
Allow to cool in the pans about 20-30 minutes. Level off the tops of the cakes with a serrated knife.
Release the sides of the cakes with a butter knife, and very carefully invert onto two serving trays.

Remove the parchment and garnish with fresh orange zest.

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