17 September 2015

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

My great-grandmother made pineapple upside-down cake all the time when I was a kid, and I absolutely loved it. I loved it so much, it is one of the first recipes I tried when I was first learning how to bake. It was not an easy one to start out with, though. I remember countless times flipping the cake only to find that some of the cake stuck to the pan, or the brown sugar/butter mixture didn't absorb into the cake and ran all over the counter top. I still ate it, and I'm sure I gained a few pounds in the process.

Thinking back on it now, I'm not sure my great-grandmother turned the whole cake upside-down before serving it. I remember the cake staying in the pan, with her flipping the individual pieces over as they were served. I was always anxious to see how much pineapple I got, or if I was lucky to get a cherry. I did a write-up on my great-grandmother's recipe over on Family Tree-Eats if you'd like to check it out, but this is the Alton Brown version I went to after failing on hers so many times.

The recipes are pretty similar, except this one uses cornmeal and is baked in a cast iron skillet.  Baking a cake in a cast iron skillet!?  That's what I'm talking about! The finished product is perfectly crispy around the edges and moist and fluffy on the inside.  The cake is sweet, but the pineapple helps cut the sweetness considerably.  The original calls for nuts, but I omitted them because my great-grandmother never used nuts in hers.  The cake is very rich, so a little bit goes a long way, but it is absolutely delicious!

Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Printable Recipe

3/4 cup whole milk
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
4 ounces unsalted butter
8 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1 cup
6 slices canned pineapple in heavy syrup
6 maraschino cherries
3 tablespoons juice from canned pineapple
3 whole eggs
4 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 1 cup
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 3/4 ounces sugar, approximately 3/4 cup
1/2 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil, turn off the heat, and immediately add the cornmeal. Stir and let stand for 30 minutes. 

Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar to the butter and stir until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat.  Place one slice of pineapple in the center of the pan and arrange the other 5 slices around it. Put the cherries in the centers of the pineapple.  Pour pineapple juice over top.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine. In another mixing bowl, add the sugar to the eggs and whisk to combine; then add the canola oil and whisk. Add the cornmeal and milk mixture to the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Add the wet mixture to the flour and gently stir until just combined.

Pour the batter into the skillet and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. After removing it from oven, let the cake cool for 30 minutes before inverting. Set a plate on top of the skillet and carefully flip the cake.

Slice and devour. 

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