The Cake Slice March 2010: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Pineapple upside down cake is a much loved cake dessert. The rings of pineapple filled with a shiny maraschino cherry make it instantly recognisable. It is traditionally made in a cast iron skillet, started off on the hob and finished in the oven, but it works equally well in a cake tin.
Believe it or not until I made this cake I had never tasted a pineapple upside down cake before, so I was delighted when it won the vote for this month’s Cake Slice choice. Now I have tasted it, I will definitely be making it again. I loved the whole fruit, cake, caramel combo.
A word to the wise though – if you make it in a springform tin (like I did) make sure you either wrap the outside of the tin well in foil or place it on a baking tray. I did neither and soon found out that a springform tin will not hold the beginnings of bubbling caramel. It managed to seep out of the tin and start dripping into the base of the oven within the first 10 minutes. This then burnt and produced smoke signals that some ancient tribes would have been proud of!! I hastily stuck the tin on a tray and wiped the oven as best I could – thankfully it didn’t seem to affect the cake, but you have been warned!
Making the caramel is very simple. A mix of melted butter and dark brown sugar are sprinkled over the base of a pan before being topped with rings of pineapple and glossy red maraschino cherries. This is then topped with a thick vanilla sponge and baked. The juices from the pineapple seep out of the fruit and combine with the butter and dark brown sugar in the base to produce a delicious dark and treacly caramel layer, which becomes the top once turned out. The cake top/base is a little dense, but this means it happily soaks up all the pineapple juices and the caramel once inverted, making one delicious dessert.
I loved how the caramel layer added a bronze glaze to the pineapple rings. The first flavour when taking a bite was of sweet and treacly caramel but this was counterbalanced as the pineapple released its slightly sharp, yet tropical juice as you bit into it.
I made this when my grandmother was visiting for dinner and she said she remembered it with great fondness from her childhood. This created a long discussion about other food memories and recipes. I think its amazing how certain dishes or flavours can transport us back to events that may have happened years ago.
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
(Recipe from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott)
1 x 430-450g can pineapple rings, in juice
140g dark brown sugar
10 maraschino or glace cherries
180g plain flour
155g caster sugar
1½ tsp baking powder
50g butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp pineapple juice from can
Method – Pineapple Topping
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Drain the pineapple well, reserving 2 tablespoons of the juice for the cake batter. Melt the butter in a 10inch/25cm cast iron skillet over medium heat. Or, melt the butter and pour it over the base of a 9inch/23cm round cake tin.
Remove the pan from the stove and sprinkle the brown sugar over the buttery surface. Place the pineapple rings carefully on top of the scattered brown sugar and melted butter, arranging them so they fit in 1 layer. (You may have a few left over). Place a cherry in the centre of each ring, and set the pan aside.
Method - Cake
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and gently mix. Add the milk and butter and beat well with a mixer, scraping down the bowl once or twice until you have a thick, fairly smooth batter, about 1 minute.
Add the egg, reserved pineapple juice and the vanilla and beat until well incorporated, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides.
Carefully pour the batter over the pineapple and use a spoon to spread it evenly to the edges of the pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the cake is golden brown and springs back when touched lightly in the centre. Cool in the skillet or pan for 5 minutes on a wire rack.
When the pan is still hot, run a knife around the edge of the pan to release any cooling caramel and use oven gloves to carefully invert the warm cake onto a serving plate.