Sunday, November 20, 2011

Overcoming internal conflict: Cranberry-Biscoff Upside Down Cake

Guess what I've got for you today, friends? I'll give you a hint: it's tart, speculoosy, and uber-festive. If you guessed Cranberry-Biscoff Upside Down Cake, you are right. You also have some amazing supernatural guessing powers.

Berry festive

I made Cranberry-Biscoff Upside Down Cake because maybe you bought that Biscoff spread to make granola... and maybe you need something to save you from yourself... a recipe with which to use the Biscoff spread so that it doesn't all end up in your mouth via spoon. I care about you. I'm here to help.

I was initially unsure about whether I should post this recipe for you because, as beautiful and festive as it turned out (see photo above), the first slice of it that I ate (the same day it was baked) was overwhelmingly tart. I think I'd forgotten what cranberries tasted like over the last year. Furthermore, I nibbled on a few crumbs of the cake before actually tasting the upside-down-cranberry part, and I was IN LOVE with its subtle spice and perfect texture. When I subsequently felt that the cranberries overpowered the lovely, delicate flavor of the cake, I thought I'd try making the cake without the cranberries, perhaps with a maple glaze or something to really showcase the Biscoff flavor. But then two things happened that, combined, motivated me to post about this cake:

1. I had another slice the next day. The cranberry topping had mellowed a bit and the cake flavor was holding its own better than it had on day 1.

2. I stumbled on a Smitten Kitchen post from about a year ago with (a) an upside-down cranberry cake recipe, and (b) reservations. S.K. Deb felt her cake lacked sufficient flavor to contrast the cranberriness of her cake. (I felt that no cake flavor could effectively contrast the flavor of cranberry.) She also was disappointed in her cake's appearance, and then searched the internet to find other cranberry upside-down cake photos to make sure hers wasn't subpar. (I thought my cake was stunning. And I searched the internet for comps as well.) If Deb can recommend an upside down cranberry cake recipe with two reservations, then I can recommend an upside down cranberry cake recipe with only one reservation - a reservation that was mostly moot after a day of mellowing out on the cake stand. The word "cake" is in the title of my website, after all. I have to deliver sometimes, don't I?

So here we are.

cranberry cake collage

Oh wait, three things happened:

3. We ate the whole cake in two days.

If you have any concerns about the cranberry domination that occurs when the following recipe is made - like, say, because you hate cranberries - just skip the cranberry part. The cake itself is unequivocally delicious. With a simple powdered sugar glaze with a little cinnamon and orange juice... dang. Next time! (And I'm not kidding. I totally have another jar of Biscoff in my pantry.)

finished. sliced. yum.

Here's the recipe.

Cranberry-Biscoff Upside Down Cake
Adapted (significantly) from Martha Stewart
Yield: 10 servings

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
16 ounces fresh or defrosted frozen cranberries
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons yellow cornmeal, preferably coarse
1/4 cup Biscoff spread
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

Generously butter and flour a 10-inch round springform pan; set aside. In a large skillet, heat 6 tablespoons butter over medium heat until it sizzles. Add cranberries, and cook until shiny, 2 to 3 minutes. Add maple syrup and cinnamon. Cook, stirring frequently, until cranberries soften, about 3 more minutes.

Remove cranberries from skillet with a slotted spoon, and transfer to a large plate to cool slightly. Set skillet with syrup aside. Once cooled, distribute the cranberries evenly in the prepared springform pan. Return skillet with syrup to medium heat, and cook until syrup boils, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour hot syrup over cranberries, and let cool while you prepare the cake batter.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cornmeal. in cornmeal with a fork.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the remaining 6 tablespoons butter and the Biscoff spread. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until well combined, about 30 seconds. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and beat until creamy. Add egg yolks and then vanilla extract, beat until well combined. Add flour-cornmeal mixture in two batches, alternating with milk. Set aside.

Using a whisk attachment or a handheld beater, beat the egg whites in a clean bowl until foamy. Slowly add 2 tablespoons sugar; beat until soft peaks form. Whisk a third of the white into the batter, then fold the remaining whites in with a rubber spatula.

Spread batter over cranberries and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Place a baking sheet beneath the pan in case the cake overflows (mine didn't). Let cool in pan 2 hours before inverting cake onto a plate and carefully releasing spring. I found that running the flat side of a large sharp knife along the top of the cake to release the pan bottom worked well. It all stayed intact and, well, in my humble opinion was quite pretty.


  1. I think I need to make this because I actually had a dream about it last night.

  2. Edith, you might just be a cooking goddess! The cake is in the oven now. I'll be serving this at the Schulz's for Christmas Eve. Thanks for helping me use up the last of the Biscoff (although I am sure I could have handed Ken the jar and a spoon and I would have been saved). Merry Christmas!