Thursday, January 26, 2012

Buttermilk bonanaza and a cranberry cake recipe

A couple weeks ago, the grocery store had buttermilk on a "manager's special" price of just $.99 for a half gallon. It was expiring the next day, but I figured buttermilk is basically bad milk, so just like yogurt, it lasts way after the expiration date. I have never used much buttermilk, but I decided that this was a personal challenge.

I knew my first recipe: my mom's cranberry upside-down cake. She has made this a few times when Jon and I have been visiting, and typically she makes them two days in a row because after we all have a small piece as dessert, my dad and Jon manage to eat the rest of the cake over the course of the evening. The cranberry cake only used 1/2 cup of the buttermilk, so I had a long way to go to make the half gallon disappear. It was really fun to browse recipes, get suggestions from my facebook friends, and try new things, and yesterday I successfully finished off the buttermilk with this delightful maple buttermilk pie. It turns out there aren't a lot of healthy buttermilk recipes. Most of them are pancakes, biscuits, scones, and cakes. The buttermilk mission was a nice excuse to indulge, which is very welcome in a snowy winter.

Today I'm including the cranberry cake recipe, which I foolishly didn't photograph. What was I thinking? It's beautiful. The cranberries collapse during cooking and make a beautiful topping on the cake. In the next few days, I'll be posting some of the other recipes I used to get through the buttermilk.

Cranberry upside-down cake
This is great topped with whipped cream.

3/4 cup butter, divided (1/4 cup and 1/2 cup) and softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 bag (12-16 oz) cranberries
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk or buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9x9 baking dish. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 1/4 cup butter and brown sugar. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and pour cranberries on top.

Mix together the flour and baking powder. In a large bowl, cream remaining 1/2 cup butter with granulated sugar. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla extract. Add the milk or buttermilk and dry ingredients, just mixing.

In a small bowl, beat egg whites until they hold stiff peaks. Fold egg whites into batter. I was worried that the batter wasn't combining well enough with the egg whites, but it tasted fine in the end, so don't worry if it seems too doughy and stubborn.

Spread batter evenly over cranberries in the baking dish. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55-60 minutes. Remove cake from oven. Run a knife around the sides of the pan. Let sit 15 minutes, then invert onto a plate. Let it sit a few minutes before removing pan.

Buttermilk count: 1/2 cup
Buttermilk bonanza total: 1/2 cup

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