Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cranberry Pecan Pumpkin Upside Down Cake

I love Emily Luchetti! It was my mom who first introduced me to this master baker. Emily was the Executive Pastry Chef of Stars Restaurant in San Francisco, and has several other impressive roles on her resume. I own a few of her dessert cookbooks; they are all fantastic. Plus, Emily is down to earth and approachable and actually responds to her Facebook fans. Follow along as she posts recipes and updates by becoming her fan here.

She posted a recipe for Cranberry Pecan Pumpkin Upside Down Cake to her Facebook page a few days before Thanksgiving and explained that this is what she'd be serving for dessert on the holiday rather than pumpkin pie because pumpkin pie just doesn't do it for her. Well, my Thanksgiving didn't skip the pumpkin pie, but I did find time to make Emily's pumpkin pie-replacement over Thanksgiving weekend and bring it to my grandparents' house for a very special brunch.

All 11 of us sat around the table enjoying each other's company and when I sliced into the cake, there was a moment of silence, followed by ooohs and aaahs, followed by applause, followed by several requests for a slice, until most of the cake was gone. Ok, maybe the applause was an exaggeration, but everything else really did happen. One of us, and I won't name names (you know who you are!!!), had thirds.

My uncle Phil is one very happy camper

I am a fan of upside down cakes in general, because I think they make great presentations. There's that moment of nervousness and surprise when you invert the cake onto a serving plate and see what the underside looks like. With all the butter and brown sugary goodness, the topping is out of this world. But I had never seen a pumpkin upside down cake. I couldn't pass up the chance to make this. So glad I did! And my family was quite appreciative, too.

Cranberry Pecan Pumpkin Upside Down Cake
Adapted from a recipe by Emily Luchetti on her Facebook page
Serves 10-12

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups cranberries
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin or homemade puree, but NOT pumpkin pie filling)
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Choose your baking pan: either a 9-inch square pan or a 10-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom of your pan with parchment. No need to grease it since you're about to put a whole lot of butter in the bottom of the pan!

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and stir until combined (a wooden spoon works well). Pour this brown sugar-butter mixture into the bottom of the cake pan and spread evenly around to cover the entire bottom.

In a medium bowl toss the cranberries and pecans together. Scatter them over the brown sugar-butter mixture in the pan so they look evenly placed.

To make the batter, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin puree, and oil.

Cut a large piece of wax paper or parchment paper and place your sifter in the center. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt over the wax paper, then carefully lift the wax paper up and transfer the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture. Stir the dry ingredients in with the pumpkin mixture until well combined. Then spread this batter over the cranberries and pecans in the cake pan. Be gentle as you spread the batter so you don't pull up the cranberries or pecans or stir them into the batter.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes (less for the square pan, more for the round pan). The cake is done when a cake tester or toothpick is inserted in the center and comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Then loosen the edges of the cake with a knife or metal spatula and invert onto a serving plate. Peel the parchment paper off the top of the cake.

Cool completely before serving. Enjoy! You are about to be in heaven!

Step-by-Step in Pictures
Melt the butter and add the brown sugar; stir until combined...

Pour the mixture into the bottom of the cake pan...

In a bowl, combine the cranberries and pecans...
Scatter the cranberries and pecans evenly over the brown sugar-butter mixture in the pan...

Sift the dry ingredients together...
Whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, and oil...
Add the dry ingredients and stir until well combined...

Pour the batter over the cranberries and pecans in the pan...

Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 45 minutes...

Cool for about 10 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate and peel the parchment off the top...

Cool completely, then slice and serve!

1 comment:

Mom said...

This is definitely one of my favorite desserts ever! I love the taste and appearance! I would definitely make it often! The only problem will be if I choose to give it away, I can't sneak a taste first as it will ruin the beautiful presentation! Emily Luccheti is definitely one of the best!!! (Sorry for the multitude of exclamation points, but they are deserved!!!!!!!!)

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