The week before this last one was a doozy for me. It felt like I was going a million miles per hour trying to get things done for all the shows I mentioned before. In the middle of it all, I woke up one morning with that familiar scratchy feeling in the back of my throat that meant I was probably catching a cold. It didn't surprise me at all. I hadn't been eating or sleeping well, and that topped with stress and the thousands of people I came into contact with that week didn't make for the best combination.
I have a pretty strong immune system and rarely get sick; before last week, the last time I had so much as a sniffle was over a year ago. Every time though, it reminds me of the power foods can have on ones overall health. That same night I decided to make a large pot of hot Thia style soup with lemongrass, ginger, tofu and kale. It was amazing and I'm definitely going to have to make it again to share with you.
That soup, along with lots of green smoothies did the trick. The next couple of days my cold was basically non-existent, like it was trying so hard to stay, but when all these good foods were being put into my body it was having a hard time competing. Have you ever had that experience? I mean, it really amazed me that I really only seemed sick when I was sleeping and it only lasted for maybe 3 days, and this was without any medication at all, just hot soup and lots of fruits and veggies.
Now that I'm better and all that's over with I really want to talk about the cake I made last week. Made entirely for the pure joy of making a dessert after getting over being sick. I had a bag a cranberries sitting around that needed to be eaten quick and wanted them in some kind of quick bread or cake. I settled on this upside down version with walnuts and cranberries swirled with brown sugar on top of a cake batter that was slightly sweet and had a wonderful texture. I love when tart things are met with the perfect amount of sweetness and neither overwhelm the other. Plus, upside down cakes are easy and don't require frosting or a million pans and dishes to work with.
I made this with whole wheat pastry flour, but I think white whole wheat or regular all-purpose flour would make a great substitution. If you don't have a cast iron pan, make it in a pie dish or cake pan, it should work just as well. Oh, and I totally spaced and forgot to put the baking soda in mine which I think might have helped it rise a little more. Sometimes I wonder how anything ever comes out right. I think this would make a really great addition to a brunch menu, especially this time of year. It was my favorite, warm from the oven on the first day, but should last another day or two if wrapped well.
Cranberry Walnut Upside Down Cake
Adapted from Gourmet
makes 8 servings
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 3/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries(7oz. do not thaw if frozen)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup well shaken buttermilk
For the topping, melt butter in cast iron skillet over moderate heat, then swirl to coat bottom and side of skillet and stir in brown sugar. Simmer, stirring, until sugar is dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes, then sprinkle cranberries and walnuts evenly over butter mixture and remove from heat.
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 6 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture alternately in batches with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until just combined. Do not overmix.
Heat topping in skillet over moderately high heat until it starts to bubble, then gently spoon batter over topping and spread evenly. Quickly transfer to oven; bake until cake is golden brown and a wooden skewer comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around inside edge of pan, then invert a serving plate over pan and invert cake onto plate. Cool completely on plate on rack, 1 hour. Serve cake warm or at room temperature.