Friday, May 24, 2013

Fresh Pineapple Upside Down Cake

When I was a little girl my mother made pineapple upside down cake from time to time and I thought it was deliciously exotic. Pineapple in a cake! How fancy.We definitely were not a big canned food eating house, but my mother did use canned pineapple in the cake, which I also thought was rather exotic, since we never had it and the juice the fruit came swimming in was so sweet.

These days I'm always looking to buy the least processed foods available, so when I decided I really wanted my mothers pineapple upside down cake last week, I knew I wanted to make it with fresh pineapple. And, Oh, what a great decision that was.

I called my mother for her pineapple upside down cake recipe, to which she replied she doesn't really use a recipe, but she said she would look in the ancient, crumbling, Betty Crocker and Fannie Farmer cookbooks, as one of these was probably the originator of the cake in my mothers repertoire. Then I found a Betty Crocker Pineapple Upside Down Cake recipe online while we were still on the phone discussing the idea. Oh, the joy of the internet.

So the great Pineapple Upside Down Cake feast night began.

In about an hour this will be a layer of heaven. Absolute heaven.

A layer of delicious cake batter, the future bottom of the cake. 

See that little bit of caramel oozing through the corner? Yum. 

Oh yeah, there's that caramel-pineapple goodness.

Oh gosh. Cake perfection.

Fresh Pineapple Upside Down Cake

1/4 AND 1/3 cup butter measured separately 

1 2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 Fresh Pineappple, sliced into 1/4"-1/3" round slices (or one can sliced pineapple)

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (I use unbleached, unenriched King Arthur)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk

1 egg

First you'll need to cut your pineapple. If you're using canned, skip this paragraph. But really, consider using fresh pineapple, there is a noticeable taste difference, and this is much easier than it looks. Using a large knife cut off the very top, beneath the leaves, turn it over, and cut the bottom off as well, so the pineapple can stand on its flat bottom easily. Stand it up, and using the large knife cut down the sides of the pineapple, just behind the prickly skin. If your pineapple if fresh it should be pretty easy to cut through. The main trick is balancing cutting far enough behind the skin to remove it all, without cutting off too much edible flesh. Now slice the pineapple into 1/4"-1/3" slices, you'll need between 6 and 9 depending on your pan layout and pineapple width. Use a pairing knife to cut the circular, tough centers out of each slice.

Heat oven to 350°F. In 9-inch square pan (or if your pans are limited like me, a rectangular pyrex), melt 1/4 C butter in oven, brush small amount of melted butter up sides of pan to grease, leave the rest of the melted butter on the bottom. Sprinkle 2/3 C brown sugar evenly over melted butter. Arrange pineapple slices over brown sugar. 

In medium bowl, beat remaining ingredients (including remaining butter and brown sugar) with electric mixer on medium-low beat ingredients, scraping bowl occasionally, until batter fully comes together and most lumps are gone, 1-2 minutes. Pour batter over pineapples.

Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean of batter. Immediately place heatproof serving plate (or cutting board) upside down over pan; turn plate and pan over. Leave pan over cake a few minutes so brown sugar mixture can drizzle over cake; remove pan. Serve warm. Store cake loosely covered.

Other fruits could certainly be used in an upside down cake- plum or ripe peach would be delicious.
You don't need a mixer for this recipe if you have a strong mixing arm, but beating times will be slightly longer.

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