Tropical fruits, with their bright colours, juicy insides and mesmerising aromas, make many a dull day bright. And that much needed warmth! Which right now is a greatly desired need. Enter, the warm and sunny coconut pineapple upside down cake.
You see, December descended upon us with rain and chill that left my feet and fingers icy. (There’s a cyclone in South India you see.) Plus, I was craving a pineapple upside down cake for ages. How could I bring more warmth to the cake though? Freshly grated coconut sprinkled on top of the cake? No, fresh coconut spoils easily — although it’s fantastic as a cake topping. IN the batter? Of course! And maybe some coconut cream, some coconut oil, some coconut milk…
That was how the idea took seed. You can’t go wrong when you combine tropical fruits (yes, coconut is a fruit) in any which way. What should have been a one time effort turn into a series — five series — until I got it the recipe for the coconut pineapple upside down cake just right, over the course of two weeks. It was not as simple as marrying some coconut with a pineapple upside down cake — my fallacy. But, it was so invigorating to get something right. And I use right, as there were quite a few wrongs!
The first time around, I used coconut oil along with coconut milk and shredded coconut. It looked all pineappley but that was a mirage. It was a rich coconut cake. And the coconut oil was quite overpowering even though the quantity I used was little. The second time, the sugar was less, and I poured the pineapple syrup over the cake to compensate. Bad idea. Pineapple contains bromelain (other fruit with similar properties: papaya and kiwi) that breaks down the protein in milk, making it bitter. It must be eaten right away if you want to pour pineapple syrup over your cake; unless you’re cooking it. It begins to turn bitter in 30 minutes or so, getting stronger as time passes. The next three times, I perfected the proportions of cake flour, shredded coconut, eggs and baking powder. These versions good nevertheless; they needed some fluffing up. Plus the better half seemed to enjoy this cake baking frenzy. I dare say he was disappointed when I stopped making them.
But I’d had enough — enough of only making them though. I mean, two weeks and six coconut pineapple upside down cakes can be a bit much normally, but this coconut pineapple upside down cake was still yummy, even after 10 consecutive days. To take the edge off the guilt trips I went on (I HAD to taste the cake, you see) I religiously snacked on these healthy treats: black chickpea sprouts salad, black chickpea sprouts sundal, roast vegetables with mushrooms, zesty date orange muffins, oatmeal fruit and nut breakfast cookies, multigrain sundal and this refreshing ginger, mint and cumin limeade.
Take a break from the regular pineapple cakes and pineapple upside down cakes — make this cheerful golden fella and you’ll wind up with smiles and warmth and a desire for more coconut pineapple upside down cake. The taste is so familiar yet much more exotic: the marriage of caramelized pineapple with fragrant toasted coconut will take you by surprise. Perfect for a chilly day, alongside some hot coffee (another tropical fruit), or some rum.
- 7-10 slices of pineapple canned
- 60 g butter softened
- 60 g brown sugar
- 2 cups (260 g) cake flour (or you could do this: remove 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour for every half cup and add 1 tablespoon cornstarch)
- 3/4 cup (180 g) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup (150 g) white granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ginger powder
- 3 large eggs separated
- 1 cup (64 g) shredded coconut
- 150 ml (5 fluid oz) coconut milk
- 7-9 maraschino cherries
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Rest the pineapple slices and cherries on a tissue placed over a plate, so that when you use them, the pineapple slice and cherries are not dripping wet. Now would be a good time to pit the cherries.
Preheat your oven to 176ºC (375ºF). Take a 9-inch cake pan with deep sides and after rubbing butter all over the insides, place parchment paper on the bottom.
Put the 60 g softened butter and 60 g brown sugar into a microwave safe bowl and place in the microwave for 30 seconds, until it melts completely.
Take it out and beat it with a fork till it blends. Drop it into the cake pan and spread it out evenly.
Place one pineapple slice in the middle and arrange the rest around it — like the petals of a flower. Or you could arrange them in a design of your choice. Then place the cherries in the middle of the pineapple rings.
Take the cake flour, ginger powder and baking powder, and sieve it. Then add to it shredded coconut and salt and whisk away for a few seconds until everything is well combined.
Beat the whites of the eggs until they double in volume and become frothy and light.
Combine the butter and white granulated sugar in a big mixing bowl and beat them together until they are well combined and fluffy.
Beat the egg yolk lightly and add it little by little to the butter and sugar mixture. Add the vanilla too and whisk for a few seconds.
Add to this: half the flour mix, beat it in for 3 seconds; add half the coconut milk, beat it in for 3 seconds; add the remaining flour mix, beat it in for 3 seconds; add the remaining coconut milk and pineapple syrup and beat it just until it is well combined.
In the end, add the frothy egg white mixture and fold it in gently until just blended. Do not over mix.
Pour this cake batter into the cake pan with the pineapples and cherries, and place it in the oven for 55-60 minutes. Watch the top of the cake closely after the 50-minute mark as the top tends to brown and burn. You can place a cookie sheet or some parchment paper over it if you see the top turning dark.
Take the cake out of the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Place your cake tray or plate over the cake pan and in one swift motion flip it over. Peel off the parchment paper and let the caramel run down the cake — let it rest for a further 15 minutes before you serve it.
Serving: Serve warm.