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Christmas Cranberry Upside-Down Cake



10 servings


ingredient intro copy

¾ cup packed light brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, divided
2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup fresh orange juice, divided
1 (12 ounce bag fresh cranberries)

¾ cup whole-wheat pastry flour (see note)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 eggs at room temperature
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup milk, at room temperature
whipped cream for garnish (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a large 12 inch cast-iron or regular skillet. Heat brown sugar, 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons orange juice in a pan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter is totally melted and the mixture is nice and bubbly. Allow it to cool.

In a medium saucepan bring the rest of the ¼ cup orange juice and cranberries to a simmer, stirring often, until the cranberries begin to pop. Pour evenly over the cooled brown sugar mixture in the skillet.

Whisk together the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Separate egg whites and yolks. Place yolks in a large bowl and add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, oil, granulated sugar and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Stir in the flour mixture alternately with milk, using a rubber spatula, starting and ending with the flour. Stir just until flour is incorporated. Beat the egg whites in a clean dry mixing bowl until they hold soft peaks. Fold egg whites carefully and very gently into the batter until almost no white streaks remain. Spread the batter over the cranberries.

Bake until the top is golden brown and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Run your knife around the edge of the pan and carefully invert the cake onto a serving plate. Allow to cool slightly more before cutting. Serve warm and garnish with whipped cream.

Note: whole-wheat pastry flour helps ensure tender baked goods. Find it in the baking section of the supermarket or online at and


Recipe courtesy of Pat Branning

Pat Branning loves all things Southern – food, hospitality, great Lowcountry recipes, and her Georgia Bulldogs. Her two Southern cookbooks offer a look into the Southern landscape. Beautiful photographs by her son, Andrew Branning, make you want to jump in the car and head to the grocery store for ingredients. (If you aren’t a cook, these books will make you start planning your next visit to the South Carolina Lowcountry.)

She’s a self-taught cook who loves to share treasured recipes from family, friends and the remarkable chefs found in the Lowcountry. If you’re looking for a special gift for a cook, we think you’ve found it with either Magnolias, Porches & Sweet Tea, or Shrimp, Collards & Grits.

This delicious alternative to pie uses one of the tastiest fruits of the fall harvest – sparkling cranberries. The recipe is very versatile and can be made with apple, pears, peaches or plums. Simply arrange the fruit in the pan before you pour the batter over it. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream.

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