Mom’s Upside-Down Cranberry Pecan Coffee Cake

Last night I made a coffee cake. It was really just an excuse to buy a springform pan.

Mom's Upside-Down Cranberry Pecan Coffee Cake

Even though I bake far less than I cook, I am obsessed with many more baking items than I am cooking utensils. My favorites above all else are bundt pans. Their shapes just fascinate me, and if I could, I’d have a pantry filled with them. In fact, I’d rather have a closet full of bundt pans than one filled with shoes. Even Manolo Blahniks.

After bundt pans, my next favorite items are springform pans. I used to have several (and in multiple sizes) when I lived in my own apartment in Syracuse. I didn’t, however, bring many kitchen supplies with me when I moved to San Francisco two and a half years ago. (I only planned on staying six months, then fell in love with the city and have happily been here ever since.) Making my mom’s amazing upside-down cranberry pecan coffee cake was the perfect excuse to purchase a new one. (Plus, work has been busy and there’s nothing like a homemade cake to lift the spirits.)

My mom’s been making this coffee cake for as long as I can remember. It was what we had (along with hot cross buns and clementines) every Christmas morning. Late last week, while my mom dictated, my sister typed out the recipe for me (which I believe is from The Canadian Living Christmas Cookbook) and sent it via email.

The cake is made like this:

First, make the topping by boiling butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon together in a saucer, while stirring, and then pouring the resulting sauce into the buttered springform pan. Sprinkle cranberries and chopped pecans onto the sauce and set aside.

The coffee cake topping mise en place

The topping in the new springform

Second, make the batter. I always forget what a workout it is to bake without electric beaters until I am standing there with a fork in hand, chopped butter and sugar in a bowl, looking at the recipe that reads “beat until fluffy.” Nevertheless, with a little elbow grease I beat the butter and sugar until fluffy then added the eggs and vanilla. Next, I stirred in half of my dry mixture (flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt), added a cup of sour cream, and then stirred in the rest of the dry mixture. Making a mise en place first proved fruitful because as I was measuring out the ingredients, I discovered that I only had half a cup of sour cream in the fridge, not a full cup as needed, and had to run to the grocery store (for the second time that evening). Thank goodness I made this realization before I was halfway through mixing the batter (not that it would have spoiled anything, it just would have been much more of an interruption and annoyance).

My coffee cake batter mise en place after the second trip to the grocery store to pick up more sour cream

Finally, I poured the batter on the topping, put the pan on a baking sheet (with tin foil wrapped around the bottom of the springform to catch bubbling brown sugar), and left it to bake for an hour.

The cake before it went in the oven

Best part: Licking the batter off of the spatula

My mom had forewarned me that the trick to this coffee cake is knowing when to take off the bottom (which becomes the top) of the springform after removing it from the oven and inverting it onto the serving plate. Too early and you have a gooey mess that you then have to scrape back onto the cake. Too late and the topping sticks to the pan. I followed the directions to a T–removing the bottom/top of the pan after I let the cake cool for 10 minutes–and it was a perfect separation! Woohoo! I think it was my ample buttering of the pan that did the trick.

The inverted cake hot out of the oven

Woohoo! A clean separation of cake and pan

I would have then just covered the cake in tin foil and let it cool overnight to take to work this morning but I promised my roommate Diana and her boyfriend that I’d leave a piece for them. (Diana’s such a great housemate and the two of them are always cooking and sharing their food so there was no way I could not leave them some for breakfast.)



Since I was cutting the coffee cake, I sliced a section for myself as well. (I could hear my dad saying, “Uh huh, like you wouldn’t have eaten a piece otherwise”–and that’s probably true!) I don’t really remember ever eating this cake hot out of the oven, even though the recipe instructs you to “serve warm.” We always ate it the next morning. It turned out pretty delicious, though, I have to admit, I think I prefer it cold–which is perfect since that’s how I’m serving it this morning at the office.


4 Responses to “Mom’s Upside-Down Cranberry Pecan Coffee Cake”

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  4. 4 Teresa 12/22/2017 at 3:49 pm

    Where is the recipe. I’ve looked all over this page and the actual recipe is missing

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