Upside Down Cranberry Cake

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2  3/4 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup orange juice

1  1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Use a 9-inch round or an 8-inch square cake pan with 3-inch sies.  To make the topping, place the butter and brown sugar in the cake pan.  Place the pan on a stovetop burner over low heat and melt, stirring with a wooden spoon.  When the sugar has melted, after a couple of minutes, remove from the heat and let cool slightly.  Scatter the cranberries evenly in the bottom of the pan and drizzle in the orange juice. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the cake batter, sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.  In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Mix in the vanilla.  Add the egg yolks one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each one to make sure it is thoroughly incorporated. Gradually add the dry ingredients and the milk in stages: mix in about a third of the flour mixture, followed by about half the milk; mix in another third of the flour, then the rest of the milk; finally, add the last third of the dry ingredients.

In another large  mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites and the cream of tartar.  Beat the whites until they form firm peaks.  Fold the whites into the batter in two batches.   Pour the batter over the topping in the prepared pan and bake until the top is slightly brown and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 50 to 60 minutes.  Let the cake cool for 15 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a serving plate.  Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream flavored with a little orange liqueur, if you like.

Makes one 9-inch round cake or one 8-inch square cake; serves 8  

The Italian Dish