I find I’m as saddened and appalled, in these times of regular tragedy and ill-informed mass murder, by the response of many people to said events as by those who commit them. It’s too easy to fuel my little version of annoyed anger at those amongst us who respond so terribly to these tragedies, who spray revenge-flavoured rhetoric, calling for separation of peoples and for closed borders. I find myself shocked by what people say about those in need, about people fleeing violence and war that we, in our comfortable and privileged positions, cannot even begin to comprehend. Like, really.
I know this isn’t really cooking blog fodder but I’ve kept quiet on social media about it all as I wanted to take some time to figure out what I thought outside of the maelstrom of noise emanating via Facebook and Twitter. I don’t think anything particularly sophisticated as it happens, but I do feel appalled that such a common and popular response to fear-fuelled terror and murder is to recommend pretty much the same in revenge. A very flawed approach to my mind. And listen, I’m sure all my thinking on this is flawed but at least I’m trying to think about it. I’m trying hard not to just respond but to consider, and learn, and review, and reflect. It’s tough to do when emotional response is such a strong motivator for opinion.
On a less serious note, I follow Smitten Kitchen on Instagram and the lady posts multiple recipes daily. Christ knows how she does it, although I know she cleverly posts stuff from her archives (which are long and fruitful). One such archived thing is the Upside Down Cranberry Cake. I fancied making it. I have never made an upside down cake before. After I made this one Boyfriend informed that upside down cakes had, actually, been his speciality. We have been together … wait. I just counted. I get 8 years. Can that be right? Surely it can’t be right. Maybe 7 years. Shit. I should remember, shouldn’t I? Anyway it’s been A LONG BLOODY TIME and has he cooked me an upside down cake, ever? No. Never. Never even mentioned it. Rude.
I’ve just looked at Facebook to track photos down to when Boyfriend began to appear. 2008. So, seven years and nearly a half more. CHRIST.
Last year I made a delicious cranberry sauce thing, I’m pretty sure I posted it on here actually. Is this the point, were I a proper blogger, I’d link back to that post? Probably. Instead I’m going to recommend you put ‘cranberry’ into the search engine on this page and there it’ll be, along side this post. Easy. This year, on the cranberry front, I tried something different.
This cake is a minor faff, and quite puddingy in the finish – a good option if you’re having people over for lunch or supper and want to serve something tasty, doused in cream. It’s also quite nice the next day. What it’s like after that I don’t know as I foisted the remains of the one I made onto a friend and, I trust, she hoovered it all up. I’ve had no reports of food poisoning so I figure all was well with it.
170g unsalted butter, melted (I used salted. Was fine)
140g packed light brown sugar (I used golden caster sugar. Was fine)
1 tablespoon molasses (I used golden syrup. WAS BLOODY WELL FINE, JEEZ)
240g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (I didn’t use, was fine)
3 large eggs, at room temperature (mine were cold from the fridge. No-one complained)
240g sour cream
230g fresh or frozen cranberries (I used more like 260g, frozen
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
Preheat your oven to 180C, or 190C if not fan. I used a 19cm round springform tin. Go for that, or you could equally as comfortably go for a slightly larger one if you fancied a not-so-tall cake. I think I will, next time. Also, don’t be beholden to the idea of a springform. You’ll see why soon enough.
In one bowl sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Or, as I always advocate, whisk them all around a bit in lieu of actual sifting.
In a medium saucepan, over a medium heat, put about 60g of the melted butter, brown sugar, golden syrup/molasses and 1/4 cup water (American cups) and bring to a boil. Once it’s come to the boil just set it aside. Grease your cake tin and line the bottom with parchment. Then, on the outside, cover the bottom and sides with foil and place onto an oven tray, if you’re using a springform. DO AS I SAY.
In an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment (electric hand beaters would do fine here, either way you want/need to harness the raw power of electricity as your puny human arms do not have the strength to get the job done) beat the eggs and sour cream until blended. Add the vanilla, beat, add the remaining butter, beat. Make sure the sides are well scraped down. Then add the dry ingredients and beat till nice and smooth.
You’ll have three pots/bowls of things on the go, plus the cake tin. See? I told you. Minor faff.
Pour the hot sugary syrupy mix into the bottom of the cake pan.
Add the cranberries, making them into as even a layer as you can manage. Or be bothered to.
Then dollop on the batter. It’s quite thick so be careful to gently smooth it, as if you’re managing the hurt feelings of a misogynist boss after you outranked him on an IQ test.
Shove it in the oven. It’s supposed to take 45 minutes. Mine took an hour and even then I wasn’t convinced it was done. It’s done when a skewer comes out clean – in essence I think because it’s quite a heavy mix it takes a while to come together. Smitten Kitchen lady suggests you check earlier and then consistently thereafter as overdoing this cake would not be a good thing.
The leaves have been falling faster than ill-informed opinions, on our street. NewHuman has been taking full advantage. Or, rather, he did until the council, in a fit of efficiency, came by last week with the World’s Biggest Leafblower and a special Vacuum Truck of Magic to scoop them all up. Now there’s no romance left in Autumn, it’s merely a straight run down towards Winter. It must be embraced else it kills us.
I had vague thoughts about entering the dog for the Melbourne Cup. She’s fast enough but her jockey just didn’t seem to have his heart in it.
Let the cake cool in the pan for a bit, a good 15 mins or so at least, then run a knife around the edge and turn out CAREFULLY – PRETEND IT IS LIKE A BIGGER AND SCARIER KILLER TARTE TARTIN onto a large plate.
Don’t, as seen below, get the foil caught on a bit of the stovetop as you lift the cake tin from the oven tray, thereby dumping the lava-like caramel from the stupid bloody springform tin onto the hob rather than having it soak nicely into the done cake. My finished version was, thus, slightly lighter on soaked-in caramel-cranberry goodness than might otherwise be ideal. When this volcanic tragedy was occurring I was yelling, ‘Boyfriend! Boyfriend! Help!’. This is unlike me. I never ask for help. I cannot think what was going on that I thought needed help. It has been preying on my mind.
Below are two shots of the done thing. In whole form, in close up, and cut. See how dense it is? More dense than the frontal lobes of those calling for closed borders.
It’s not gorgeous-looking, this cake, but it is good.