Chilli Cardamom Cranberry Upside Down Cake for Clandestine Cake Club

Large Cakes | 8th December 2013 | By


It was the last Clandestine Cake Club of the year and to cheer us up through the dank, dark days of November, the theme was “a splash of colour”. Time was of the essence, I had to leave the house at 8:30 to get to the venue at Truro for 10:00 and I had to do my bake that morning. So not only something colourful, but something simple was also needed. I knew the very thing. I’ve made Nigella’s Cranberry Upside Down Cake from How to be a Domestic Goddess before and it was very well received. However, this time I felt the addition of some warming chilli would not go amiss – so the last vestiges of my Dartmoor Dragon bar winged its way into the mix. Talking of dragons, I’m looking forward to the next instalment of The Hobbit, coming to a cinema near you sometime very soon.

So literally hot out of the oven and into the back of the car, off we headed to Truro. Who needs an air freshener when they have hot cake on board? We had a wonderfully fragrant drive.

This is how I made:

Nigella’s Cranberry Upside Down Cake

  • Melted 50g unsalted butter in a large pan.
  • Added 175g cardamom sugar (golden caster) and left on the heat for a couple of minutes.
  • Removed from the heat and stirred in 200g fresh cranberries. Left to one side.
  • In a large bowl, melted 20g white chilli chocolate (Dartmoor Dragon)
  • Creamed 200g cardamom sugar (golden caster) with 200g unsalted butter until pale in colour and fluffy in texture.
  • Beat in a pinch of rock salt.
  • Beat in 4 medium eggs alternately with a spoonful of the flour (see next line).
  • Sifted in 200g flour (half wholemeal, half plain), 1 tsp of baking powder and 1 tsp mesquite powder (optional).
  • Stirred in 4 tbsp sour milk.
  • Turned the cranberries and sugar into a 23cm cake mould, then piled the batter on top.
  • Baked for 40 minutes at 180C. Left in the mould to cool for a few minutes, then turned out onto a plate.

Though I say it myself, the cake was absolutely scrummy and benefited, I felt, from the addition of white hot chilli chocolate. It seemed to go down well with the others at CCC too. It was moist with a  good flavour and the tartness of the berries offset the general sweetness. Heavens, that naga chilli, even in such a small quantity, still had a bit of a kick to it. It wasn’t as fast acting as my previous bakes, but it crept up on you and left a warm glow in the back of the throat. Cranberries aren’t just for turkeys.

The colour of my cake wasn’t quite as vibrant as some, but it held its own both in looks and taste. A splash of colour was a particularly appropriate theme, given our venue was an art shop in Truro. The name of the cake was also appropriate: CCC for the CCC. Thanks go as always to our splendid organiser Ellie Michell and to Truro Arts Company for the splendid venue.

Coffee at Truro Arts Company


A splash of cakey colour
Loved this red stripy teapot
I’m entering this into Four Seasons Food with Anneli over at Delicieux and Louisa at Eat Your Veg. The theme is Party Food and it just so happens that I baked this yet again yesterday for a friends party. 
I’m also sending it off to Javelin Warrior for his Made with Love Mondays.
Jen of Blue Kitchen Bakes is doing a Fresh Cranberry Link Up, so linking up is what I’m going to do.



  1. Leave a Reply

    9th December 2013

    I like upside down cakes…are so funny!!! And yours looks so beautiful!
    Have a nice week

    • Leave a Reply

      10th December 2013

      You’re right Manu, the name is a funny one. Thank you for your kind thoughts as always.

  2. Leave a Reply

    Daphne Bryson
    9th December 2013

    Good Morning to you, I love the look of this cake and yes, it certainly brightens up a dark and gloomy day. Do you know I have never used cardamom or chilli in a cake before. I have used them in savoury foods, but I have never added them to a cake. I am really intrigued by this cake and I think it will be a fun cake to try. The drive to Truro must have been lovely with the car smelling of a freshly baked cake…..were you not tempted to cut into it…. only joking. There was a huge range of cakes baked by the Clandestine Cake Club members…. the chocolate cake with what looks like little Easter eggs looks very impressive.
    Thank you for a very interesting cake recipe.
    Best Wishes

    • Leave a Reply

      10th December 2013

      Thank you Daphne. I’m a big fan of both cardamom and chilli in bakes, but haven’t used them both together very often. I get quite excited when I use an ingredient in unfamiliar circumstances. Do give either / both a try. Cardamom works particularly well with orange I’ve found.

  3. Leave a Reply

    Johanna GGG
    9th December 2013

    great theme for your CCC – and your cake does look fantastically colourful and the spice would have added a bit of colour to the flavour too 🙂 Though 10am in the morning for a table full of cakes sounds rather early for me but then I guess any time is cake time esp in winter when you need a slab to warm your cockles

    • Leave a Reply

      10th December 2013

      Don’t know if it’s the time of day or just being overwhelmed by the quantity of cake, but I am always disappointed at how little cake I can eat. It was certainly a colourful occasion and as you say, the chilli added a little additional colour.

  4. Leave a Reply

    Christian Halfmann
    9th December 2013

    Oh, that sounds and looks so very delicious. The red stripey teapot looks good too. So bad I already have more than enough teapots.

  5. Leave a Reply

    9th December 2013

    Wow! You’ve packed a lot of flavour into this cake! It looks great, too.

    • Leave a Reply

      10th December 2013

      Thank you Suelle. I made it again this weekend for a party and added an additional 100g of cranberries so that the bottom / top was completely covered.

  6. Leave a Reply

    9th December 2013

    I love the idea of a cakey air fresher- I think you’ve booked yourself a slot on Dragons Den right there! What a cheering theme for winter and a great offering

    • Leave a Reply

      11th December 2013

      Now that’s the sort of business I’d be happy to go into Kate 🙂

  7. Leave a Reply

    Javelin Warrior
    9th December 2013

    I’m also excited for the release of the next installment of the Hobbit! It looks good and the last one has had me waiting impatiently for this one… And loving the cranberries for this cake. Such vibrant color and I’m sure it’s delicious with the mix of sweet and a little spicy…

  8. Leave a Reply

    10th December 2013

    Big fan of chilli and chocolate in a cake, and this looks wonderful, love the way the cranberries look like studded jewels.

  9. Leave a Reply

    Baking Addict
    10th December 2013

    The flavour combination sounds great and it looks so pretty. I love the theme splash of colour – such a great idea!

  10. Leave a Reply

    Deena Kakaya
    11th December 2013

    Oh wow, I can just imagine how wonderful and embracing these flavours area, would love you to enter one of your lovey creations into the fab fusion foods challenge! Xx

  11. Leave a Reply

    Anneli Faiers (Delicieux)
    11th December 2013

    Gorgeous cake! I bet the bust of those juicy cranberries is lovely and then the chilli chocolate in there too! My kind of cake 🙂 Thanks for entering Four Seasons Food xx

  12. Leave a Reply

    Jen Price
    14th December 2013

    I’m a big fan of Nigella’s cranberry cake but have never deviated from the original recipe, I love what you’ve done with the extra spices and white chocolate it sounds extra festive and comforting. I’m going to have to buy more cranberries now and give your version a go. Thanks for adding this to my cranberry linky 🙂

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