Fake 'em out with cranberry-mandarin orange upside-down gingerbread. Your mother-in-law will be so impressed.

Boxed cake mixes get a bad rap - and often rightly so. They're usually loaded with fat, trans-fat and preservatives that give the finished product that unmistakable "from a mix" flavor.

But some mixes can be doctored into a final product that no one would guess started with a mix. Below is such a recipe. It starts with a whole-wheat gingerbread mix (such as Hodgson Mill's) and gets an even more healthful makeover with applesauce replacing some of the butter.


CRANBERRY-MANDARIN ORANGE UPSIDE-DOWN GINGERBREAD
Makes 14 servings

1 tablespoon butter 1 1/2 cups skim milk 1 egg 2 tablespoons applesauce 1 package (15 ounces) whole wheat gingerbread mix (such as Hodgson Mill's) 1 can (11 ounces) mandarin orange segments in light syrup, drained 1 1/4 cups whole-berry cranberry sauce
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the butter in a 9-inch square baking dish. Place the dish in the oven until the butter melts, about 2 minutes. Tilt the pan to coat the bottom with the melted butter. In a large bowl, use the milk, egg and applesauce to prepare the gingerbread mix according to the package directions (substituting the applesauce for the butter). Arrange the orange segments in an even layer over the bottom of the buttered baking dish. Spoon the cranberry sauce over, filling in any empty spaces. Pour the batter over the oranges and cranberries. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a rack 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to release the sides of the cake. Invert the cake onto a serving platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.