Pineapple upside-down cake is not something I would think of making very often. Let’s be honest – most of us who are old enough probably associate it with seeing it at parties our parents had when we were growing up in the seventies. You may not even have a good memory of it thanks to the tinny taste of the pineapple from the can and the super-sweet juice that came with it. All of that being said, Michelle had said to me not the long ago that she might want to give the dessert a try. As fate would have, when I walked into the grocery store last week fresh pineapples were on sale. I bought one and set about finding a recipe, and this one from Cook’s Illustrated seemed to be the best to use and the easiest to make.
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
1 medium fresh pineapple (about 4 pounds), peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter, softened but still cool
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs at room temperature
1 egg white at room temperature
1/3 cup milk at room temperature
Lightly spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and set it aside.
For the pineapple topping, combine the pineapple and brown sugar in a large skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally during the first five minutes until the pineapple is translucent and has a light brown hue, about 15 to 18 minutes. Empty the fruit and the juices into a mesh strainer or colander set over a medium bowl. Return the juices to the skillet, leaving the pineapple in the strainer. You should have about 2 cups of cooked fruit. Simmer the juices over medium heat until it is thickened and beginning to darken and the mixture forms large bubbles, about 6 to 8 minutes, adding any more juices released by the fruit to the skillet after about 4 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and the vanilla. Pour the caramel mixture into the prepared cake pan. Set it aside while preparing the cake batter.
For the cake, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set it aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a flat beater, cream the butter and the sugar at medium-high speed until it is light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium, add the vanilla and beat to combine. One at a time, add the whole eggs and then the egg white, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Reduce the speed to low; add about 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until it is incorporated. Add half of the milk and beat until it is incorporated; repeat the process, adding half of the remaining flour mixture and the remaining milk, and finish with the remaining flour. Give a final stir with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure that the batter is combined. The batter will be thick.
To bake the cake, working quickly, distribute the cooked pineapple in the cake pan in an even layer, gently pressing the fruit into the caramel. Using a rubber spatula, drop mounds of the batter over the fruit, then spread the batter over the fruit and to the sides of the pan. Tap the pan lightly against the work surface to release any air bubbles. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then place an inverted serving platter over the cake pan. Invert the cake pan and platter together and lift off the cake pan to release the cake. Cool the cake to room temperature for about 2 hours, then cut into pieces and serve.
Taking the time to peel, core and chop a fresh pineapple is very worth it for this recipe and makes all the difference. The fresh pineapple taste and smell, to me, is so much better than what you get from a can and preparing the pineapple only takes a few minutes. The rest of the recipe is very easy and produces great results. You get the nice caramelized pineapple with a light cake and it was much better than any of us remembered it. I actually did the whole recipe in my trusty cast iron skillet. I cooked the pineapple and the caramel in it, cooled the pan with the caramel, pressed in the pineapple and poured in the batter. I think it came out just as well as it would in a cake pan, saved me a little cleaning and came out of the pan just as easily as it would a cake pan.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. I tried out a couple of more Thanksgiving recipes yesterday, so I will post those before the big day on Thursday. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!