So I set out to make a nice autumnal cake for our family gathering today that would use up the cranberries we bought for the dessert I made the last time we had a family gathering. What I made was kind of a horror show. A deliciously tasty horror show, but jesus, look at that photo. It is not pretty.
The buildup to the unmolding was also not pretty. This cake is supposed to bake in a 9-inch cake tin. We had 2 8-inch cake tins that were pretty shallow and that I feared would not hold all the batter. So I opted for a 9 1/2-inch springform pan. DO NOT USE A SPRINGFORM PAN. I wrapped the bottom of the tin in foil to fend off leaking, and…
Well, that clearly worked. Ugh. So maybe half of the caramel made it into/onto the final cake. Plus, my brother and his family were greeted by the smell of burning sugar! How joyous.
That being said, if you use the correct pan, you won’t have any of these issues. I cannot guarantee that the cake won’t still end up looking like surgery gone bad! The cranberries are deliciously tart, and the cake is moist and has a nice little kick of brandy. Feel free to sprinkle a little extra (1-2 Tbsp) over the cake after you unmold it. (We were serving it to kids, so I didn’t.)
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp honey
10 Tbsp butter, divided (4 and 6)
1 1/2 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp brandy
1/2 cup apple juice (this is just what we had, probably some kind of cran-juice would be nice too)
2 cups (8 oz) fresh or frozen cranberries
Heat oven to 350. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray (DO NOT USE A SPRINGFORM PAN) and cover the bottom with parchment paper
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 4 Tbsp butter. Add the brown sugar, honey, and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring. Once you’re sure all the brown sugar has melted into the mixture, pour into prepared cake pan. Set pan aside.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat 6 Tbsp butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in granulated sugar. Add eggs, then beat in vanilla and brandy. Add half of flour mixture and beat on low speed until just blended. Beat in juice, then add remaining flour mixture, beating until just blended.
Add the cranberries to the prepared baking pan and press the fruit into an even layer. Pour the batter on top and use a spatula to gently nudge it into place without disturbing the cranberries underneath. Bake on the center rack (with a sheet pan underneath in case of any overflow, which shouldn’t be a problem because you were smart and did not use a springform pan).
Bake cake in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Let cake stand in pan 5 minutes. Invert a serving plate over the cake pan and invert cake onto plate (keeping plate and pan firmly pressed together). Serve warm or at room temperature.