Cakes & Baking

Upside down cranberry and elderflower cake

Our new columnist, the Bake Off winner, cooks cranberry upside-down cake – a great alternative to traditional fruit cake this Christmas

As I’m writing this, I’m surrounded by cakes that I’m going to stack into the shape of a post box to advertise the Royal Mail’s Post Early for Christmas campaign. It’s times like this I wish I had a second oven – I’m only on cake no 4 out of 20. It’s obviously going to be a long day, so it’s nice to take a break and introduce my cranberry upside-down cake.

We’ve always loved upside-down cakes in our family. They make great puddings as they are almost self-saucing and don’t need custard or cream. Pineapple is the traditional flavour, but I’m allergic to pineapple, even when it’s cooked, so I spent ages experimenting to find a good alternative. For the record, grapes are absolutely disgusting. Cranberries, on the other hand, work brilliantly. The tartness of the berries goes really well against the sweetness of the sponge, and as they cook, they pop slightly and stain the cake a wonderful, Christmassy red. The elderflower cordial not only gives a delicate floral note, but it keeps the cake even more moist. The only downside is that this is a cake best eaten on the day you cook it – but it’s not much of a hardship, to be honest.

You can use fresh cranberries if you like, but I normally use frozen ones. There’s no need to defrost them – just throw them in straight from the freezer. Some cake recipes call for buttermilk, but I always use plain yoghurt, which has the same result of making the sponge slightly lighter. I don’t understand the science behind it, but I really like the delicate tang it gives.

Finally, this is a cake that deserves your most reliable cake tin. Anyone who bakes sometimes finds themselves saying to a tin, “Ahh, you’re not having that recipe. I don’t trust you because you always leak.” If that’s you, then wrap a bit of tin foil around the bottom of the tin before adding the cranberries and elderflower. You don’t want the juices to drip out and make a mess of your oven. Especially on a day when you’ve got another 16 cakes to bake.

Upside-down cranberry and elderflower cake
Makes 8-10 slices

400g frozen cranberries
50ml elderflower cordial
4 medium eggs
250g caster sugar
125g plain flour
125g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
125g butter, melted
125g greek yoghurt

1 Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3. Lightly grease a 23cm springform tin. Tightly wrap the outside of the tin with kitchen foil to prevent any cranberry juice from leaking out. Spread the cranberries across the bottom of the tin and pour over the elderflower cordial and set aside.

2 Whisk the eggs and sugar in a bowl for 8 minutes until pale and fluffy. When lifted out, the beaters should leave a trail that lasts at least three seconds.

3 Combine the flour, almonds, baking powder and salt in a bowl and stir through the egg mix. Gradually mix in the melted butter, yoghurt and dry ingredients, alternating throughout, until you have a smooth cake batter.

4 Pour the batter over the cranberries and elderflower in the tin. Bake on the middle shelf for 30-35 minutes. The cake should be golden and just coming away at the edges.

5 Leave the cake in the tin for 15 minutes, allowing it to cool slightly, then turn it out so that the cranberries are at the top.