Cranberry Upside Down Cake

  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 12 oz package fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup Grade B maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1.5 oz wild cherry vodka OR amaretto OR triple sec 
  • 1/2 cup milk
  1. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan; dust with flour, tapping out excess. In a large skillet, heat 6 tablespoons butter over medium until sizzling. Add cranberries; cook until shiny, about 2 minutes. Add maple syrup and cinnamon. Cook, stirring frequently, until cranberries soften but still hold their shape, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. With a slotted spoon, transfer cranberries to a baking sheet to cool slightly before arranging in prepared cake pan. Return skillet to medium heat and cook until syrup boils and thickens, 3 to 4 minutes; do not overcook. Immediately pour syrup over cranberries; let cool, about 10 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F, with rack in center. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk in cornmeal with a fork.
  4. With an electric mixer on medium, beat remaining 8 tablespoons butter and gradually add 3/4 cup sugar; beat until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolks; beat until well combined. Beat in vanilla and booze. Add flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until just combined.
  5. In a clean bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-low, whisk egg whites until foamy. Slowly add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Raise speed to high and beat until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Whisk one third of the whites into batter; fold in remaining whites.
  6. Carefully spread batter over cranberries. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool 2 hours before inverting onto a serving plate.
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