Expert baker Nancy Baggett recently wrote on her blog that the U.S. cranberry yield offers a challenging message to cranberry lovers:
EAT CRANBERRIES OR THEY WILL DIE! (The cranberries, that is, not the lovers.)
Apparently, growers have gotten so good at cultivating cranberries that they produce more and more of the things every year. If they can’t sell these tiny red pearls, the growers are told by the U.S.D.A. to let them rot in their bogs.
I was taught by mother that wasting food is a crime so naturally I have to help any crimson beauties doomed to end their lives in the bog like some pathetic monster in a horror movie.
I hope readers will do their part as well. Make cranberry sauce to accompany your turkey for Thanksgiving tomorrow, of course. Also please consider serving it with hamburgers, garden burgers, ham, fish, and eggs. Its flavor is as perky as its color.
See how many baked goods you can create with cranberries or dried cranberries this holiday season—muffins, cookies, scones, pies, cakes, breads.
Finally, think about cranberry-based main dishes and appetizers. I am working on a cranberry pot roast for Christmas Eve. If it tastes as good as I think it will, I’ll share that recipe here.
In the meantime, here is a simple cranberry recipe suited to Thanksgiving or any other day in the next month or so.
Regular readers may have noticed that I have a positive passion for upside-down cakes—pineapple, rhubarb, peach. The other day I got to wondering how cranberries would work upside down.
Of course, they were fabulous. The berries provided a tart contrast to the brown-sugar topping.
Enjoy … and happy Thanksgiving to all………
My mother Jan and nephew Michael toast the holiday with a nonalcoholic cranberry cocktail.
for the upside-down topping:
1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup) plus a little more if needed
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups fresh cranberries
for the cake:
1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pinch salt
1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
First make the topping (which goes on the bottom).
Melt the butter in a skillet—a 9- or 10-inch cast-iron skillet, if possible. Stir in the brown sugar and cook, stirring, until it melts and bubbles—3 to 4 minutes.
If your brown sugar is old, it may have trouble melting properly, in which case you’ll need to add a little more melted butter to it. Try to avoid this if you can; the cake is rich enough without it! I was recently stuck with old sugar, however, and had to punt.
If you’re using the cast-iron skillet you may continue with the recipe at this stage and cook the cake in the skillet. If not, transfer the brown-sugar mixture into a 9- or 10-inch round cake pan. Spread it through the bottom of the pan. Arrange the cranberries on top as artistically as you can.
In a separate bowl cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the baking powder and salt.
Add the flour and milk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour. Stir in the vanilla.
Spoon the batter over the cranberries in the cake pan or skillet, and place the pan in the oven. Bake until the cake tests done (in about 40 minutes).
Let the cake stand for 10 minutes; then invert it onto a serving plate. You may need help with this if you use the cast-iron skillet as it feels a bit heavy during the inverting process.
This cake is best served slightly warm with or without a little whipped cream.
Serves 6 to 8.