Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

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With spring comes picnics and BBQs along with blooming lilacs and magnolias. For a sweet and simple dessert during warm weather, I slice a fresh pineapple, wrap it in foil, pour maple syrup onto the fruit, and then set it on the grill. A pineapple upside-down cake is the baked version of this easy treat. This classic recipe has a retro feel. It consists of a butter cake topped with caramelized pineapples. A few adjustments to a traditional butter cake lightens the texture while still keeping its sturdiness.

If you’d like to play with some flavour variations, Cook’s Illustrated offers some suggestions:
– Orange-Cardamom Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Add 1 tablespoon grated orange zest when you add the pineapple to the pan. Add 1/4 cup orange juice to the pan after draining the pineapple. Whisk 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom into the flour mixture.
– Coconut-Ginger Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Add 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger when you add the pineapple to the pan. Beat 3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut with the butter and sugar. Switch out 1/2 cup of the whole milk for room temperature coconut milk.

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Bon appétit!

Recipe Source: Cook’s Illustrated

Yields 8 slices

Ingredients:

•topping
1 pineapple (4 cups), peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
7 ounces (1 cup) packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
•cake
7.5 ounces (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
5.25 ounces (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
1 egg white, room temperature
1/3 cup whole milk, room temperature

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Instructions:

•prep
1) Preheat the oven to 350F.
2) Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and line it with parchment paper. Use a pan with sides that are at least 2 inches high. I used a springform pan but didn’t take the time to wrap aluminum foil around it, resulting in some of my caramel seeping out.
•topping
1) Place a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl. Set aside.
2) Cook the pineapple and brown sugar in a 10-inch pan over medium heat until the pineapple is translucent with a light brown hue, 15 to 18 minutes.
3) Pour the pineapple and juices over the fine-mesh strainer. You should have 2 cups of cooked pineapple.
4) Pour the juices from the bowl back into the pan. Simmer over medium heat until thickened. The mixture will darken and form large bubbles, 6 to 8 minutes. At the 4 minute mark, you can add any extra juices that the pineapple released.
5) Remove the pan from the heat.
6) Whisk in the vanilla and butter.
7) Pour the caramel mixture into the prepared pan. Set aside. Let the pineapple continue to release juices as it sits in the strainer. Do not add the juices to the caramel.
•cake
1) Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
2) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 minutes.
3) Reduce the speed to medium and add the vanilla, beating until incorporated.
4) Increase the speed to medium-high and the eggs and egg white, one at a time, beating until combined.
5) Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of milk.
6) Press the pineapple into the caramel.
7) Spread the batter over the pineapple.
8) Gently tap the pan on the counter to release air bubbles.
9) Bake the cake for 45 to 50 minutes, until golden brown and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
10) Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.
11) Place the inverted serving platter over the cake pan. Invert cake pan onto the serving platter. Remove pan.
12) Let cake cool to room temperature.

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