The perfect pineapple upside down cake is definitely an American classic. A standard for bake sales and potluck church social, it was also a common dessert for holidays and festivals. I wanted to see what the fuss was all about. I’m so glad I did! This cake is warm and comforting, addictive, and disappears fast. The bright and sunny top is caramelly, crunchy a great way to eat pineapples. This pretty pattern gives way to a creamy and buttery crumb base — made moist by the yolks and butter. Together, it is perfect cake nirvana.
This retro treat (it went out of style in the 1970s) I’m sure is here to stay. I looked to the queen of baking, Rose Levy Beranbaum for the recipe and I was so glad I did! Adapted from her book, The Cake Bible, the recipe was distinct from the others that dotted the Internet, in that that it used only egg yolks. And, it used sour cream, which makes it creamy and a tad tart. Here’s how you can make sour cream at home. The caramel flowing down from the top when you invert it, is definitely a treat for the eyes. It turned out perfect!
As an alternative to maraschino cherries, I used dry rose petals for both the colour and the exotic flavour. I sprinkled a few more on top after inverting the cake, while it was still warm. The fragrance was heavenly — the marriage of pineapple and rose, perfect. If you still want to use cherries but not maraschino, check this natural alternative: Martha Washington’s Preserved Cherries. If you want a short history to the pineapple upside down cake go through American Cakes — Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. The author has put up a great read on a delicious treat. Did you know that April 20 is National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day in the US? It’s time you starting preparing, no?
- 14 pineapple slices fresh or canned (1 and 1/2 cans — 20-ounce can — pineapple slices in unsweetened pineapple juice)
- 14 pitted sweet cherries or a handful of dry rose petals
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 57 g or 2 oz
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar firmly packed (108 g or 3.75 oz)
- 1/4 cup pecan halves or walnut halves 28 g or 1 oz
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 and 1/2 cups sifted cake flour 150 g or 5.25 oz
- 3/4 cup sugar 150 g or 5.25 oz
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 9 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature (128 g or 4.5 oz)
Preheat the oven to 175ºC (350ºF). If you have a cast iron skillet that measures 10 inches at the bottom and 11 inches on top, use that, Otherwise a 10-inch x 2-inch or a 9-inch x 2-inch cake pan will do. The cake pan I used was 9 inches in diametre.
Place the pineapple slices and cherries on paper towels to absorb the extra moisture after you drain them.
If you are using a skillet, melt the butter over medium heat, and stir in the sugar till it is moistened. If you are using a cake pan, then melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and stir in the sugar till it’s moistened. Pour this into a prepared cake tin (parchment on the bottom and flour dusted over butter on the sides).
Place 1 pineapple ring in the middle and 7 surrounding it. Cut the remaining 6 into half and place them against the side of the pan with the two cut edges of each slice facing down, touching the brown sugar. Place 8 cherries in the middle of the 8 pineapple rings. Halve the remaining cherries and place them in the centre of the half slices. I used rose petals instead after I read how maraschino cherries were made. As for the walnut or pecans, tuck them into any gaps between the pineapple slices.
Now, the cake batter. Combine the yolks, vanilla and about 1/4 of the sour cream lightly.
Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl — blend for 30 seconds.
Add the remaining sour cream and the butter and beat together for about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides.
Add the egg mixture to this mixture in 3 batches, and beat to blend for 20 seconds after each addition.
Add it all into the fruit and nut lined skillet or cake pan, and smoothen the top with a spatula.
Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean or until golden brown. When you press the cake down slightly in the middle, it must spring back.
After you take it out from the oven, run a metal spatula or blunt knife around the sides of the skillet and invert it onto a serving plate. Leave the skillet on the serving plate as is for 1 or 2 minutes before lifting it. If you find any cake stuck to the bottom of the skillet, simply ease it out with a small spoon and place it on the cake. If you have used a cake pan, simply peel of the parchment paper.
Serving: Serve warm or at room temperature.
Since one can directly heat the butter and sugar on the cast iron skillet on the stove and it helps caramelize the sugar while baking, a cast iron skillet is preferred. If you are using a springfoam pan, then wrap the side with aluminium foil to prevent leakage. When you start heating the oven, place an aluminium sheet in the oven. Place the springfoam pan on the aluminium sheet when ready. I had a smaller skillet and therefore used a cake pan. The cake will last for 3 days in the fridge and 1 day at room temperature.
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