Comfort Food Friday: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
A Gooey, Fruity Treat
06/14/13 BY Rachael White
Can we talk about pineapple upside-down cake for a moment? Whoever discovered this combination of gooey, nutty melted brown sugar, butter, and caramelized fruit as a topping for vanilla cake is a genius. My mom used to make this cake when I was little, and I very clearly remember wanting to eat only the topping. I loved the way some parts were gooey while others were slightly crisp around the edges. There are few things more tasty and comforting.
This recipe is from The Best of The Farmer's Wife Cookbook (Voyageur Press, 2011). The moment I laid eyes on it, I knew I had to make it. It was a little scary because the recipe is a bit different from the standard baking recipes you might find today. One example is this step: "2 eggs broken into a cup which is then filled with rich milk or cream." A cup? What kind of cup? WHAT KIND OF CUP?!?
After the initial panic at the obscurity of this step wore off, I used my common sense and went with a 1-cup measure and it worked nicely. Whew! Now, I actually love that step the most because of the way it is worded.
I chose to use fresh pineapple rather than canned since I had it on hand. This was a wonderful decision because, rather than everything becoming mushy the way some upside-down cakes can, there was still a nice, firm texture to the fruit. I don't have any fancy gadgets to core a pineapple, so I cut off the skin, sliced it, and cut out the centers using a melon baller. Worked like a charm.
Another note: I found that the batter did not need to be beaten for five minutes. It was sufficient to whisk the batter until it came together into a smooth mixture. And my guess is that at the time the recipe was written, electric stand mixers didn't exist. Am I right?
Part of the charm of the recipes in this book is that the recipes are all comforting in their own way. Some of them are comforting because of the ingredients, others because of the old-fashioned methods and descriptions. Is there a better way to relive a seemingly simpler time than through food? I don't think so.
When the cake was done, it had a beautiful golden crust on the top. And after the somewhat scary task of flipping the cake upside down, a perfect, gooey top was revealed. The edges of the cake were perfectly caramelized, and the pineapple took on a lovely sweetness thanks to the butter and brown sugar. Recipe success, indeed.
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
(Barely adapted from The Best of The Farmer's Wife Cookbook)
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs broken into a cup which is then filled with rich milk or cream (see above for clarification)
- 1 tsp vanilla
Sift dry ingredients together, add liquids and beat hard with a whisk until the batter is smooth.
- 1 small fresh pineapple, cored and sliced (or small can of pineapple rings)
- 3/4 cup pineapple juice (if using canned pineapple, reserve 3/4 cup juice)
- 4 tbsp butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
Place pineapple juice, brown sugar and butter in a (cast-iron) skillet. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Place pineapple in the juice and cover with the batter, spreading it so it covers all the fruit. Bake in a moderately hot oven (375 degrees Fahrenheit) for 30 minutes.
What are your favorite variations of upside-down cake? Lemon? Orange? Strawberry? We'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below!
For more recipes like this one, check out The Best of The Farmer's Wife Cookbook from Voyageur Press:
Rachael White is the author and photographer of the blogs Set the Table and Tokyo Terrace. After four years of living and eating in Tokyo, Japan, she has relocated to Denver, Colorado, with her husband, son, and black lab. Originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, Rachael strives to recreate recipes that reflect Midwestern comfort with a modern twist.
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