This recipe was inspired by Lindsey Shere, the pastry chef at Chez Panisse when I worked there. I love how this dessert looks: a beautiful white cake crowned with red berries. Whenever the weather gets cold, or I see a bag of cranberries at the store, I want to make this cake!
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 pound cranberries
11/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon plus a few drops vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
Place 4 tablespoons of the butter and the brown sugar in a 9-inch cake pan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is melted, 1 minute. Swirl to coat the sides with the butter. Place the cranberries on top of the melted butter and sugar.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cream the remaining 8 tablespoons butter and the sugar together in another bowl. Add the egg yolks to the creamed mixture, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 1 teaspoon of the vanilla and mix well. Add the milk alternately with the dry ingredients, folding well after each addition.
Beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until the peaks hold their shape. Fold the whites into the cake batter. Spread the batter over the fruit in the cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes.
Remove the cake from the oven and run a small knife around the edge of the pan. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a serving platter and let it sit for another 5 minutes with the pan on the top. Remove the pan.
Whip the cream to soft peaks. Add a few drops of vanilla and the confectioners’ sugar and mix.
Serve slices of cake with the softly whipped cream.