This is a perfect late fall desserts, and one that the pastry cooks at Chez Panisse still make. Serve it with sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. The orange juice and zest in the cake compliment the cranberries beautifully.
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2-3/4 cups fresh cranberries
1 medium juice orange
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Have all ingredients at room temperature. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Use a 2-inch deep 8-inch square cake pan or 9-inch round cake pan. Place the 4 Tablespoons butter and the brown sugar in the cake pan and place pan on a stovetop burner over medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula until the butter has melted and the sugar is bubbling. Remove from heat and let cool.
Scatter the cranberries evenly in the bottom of the pan. Grate the orange zest and reserve 1 teaspoon. Juice the orange and drizzle ¼ cup of juice over the cranberries. Set aside while making the batter.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together the ¼ pound butter and the 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla and the reserved orange zest. Add the egg yolks one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each has gone in. Add the dry ingredients and milk alternately, beginning and ending with the dry.
In another large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat the whites until they form soft peaks. Fold the whites into the batter in two batches. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until the top is well browned and the cake is pulling away from the sides of the pan, about 50 to 60 minutes.
Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a serving plate.