Sunday, March 29, 2015

Old School Dessert: Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I had forgotten how much I like pineapple upside down cake until I came across this recipe. My first recollection of eating PUD cake was during my parent's card club soirees. As a kid with a budding interest in food, I would sneak out of my room to the kitchen where I would eye the buffet, set with food we didn't normally eat. Tiny sandwiches, meatballs, and other savory appetizers next to a fancy lime sherbet punch served in pretty glasses. And then that cake. Glistening pineapple studded with bright red cherries. Like a jeweled, exotic dessert! I'm pretty sure those card club nights shaped my young world view of food.

This particular recipe takes me right back to that childhood memory. A tender cake with not-too-sweet topping. I'm not a fan of maraschino cherries, so I replaced them with pecan halves. Feel free to use either, both or omit. This cake would be just as tasty with the pineapple alone.

Combine topping ingredients in a medium saucepan. Boil
until a candy thermometer registers 235-240 degrees. 

Place topping in cake pan. Top with pineapple slices. Set aside.

Use the same pan to mix up the cake batter. No need to clean!
Place batter on top of filling and bake.

Bake cake until golden brown. Let cool in pan 10 minutes.
Run a spatula around the edge to loosen.

Place serving platter over cake in pan. Holding the
platter and cake pan, flip cake over. Remove pan.

Cake can be served with ice cream or whipped
cream. I like it without the extras.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yield: 8-10 servings

20-ounce can pineapple rings, well drained, juice reserved
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pineapple juice, reserved from rings 
maraschino cherries or pecan halves, optional

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup pineapple juice, reserved from rings

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" cake pan.

Make the sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the brown sugar and pineapple juice until well blended. Cook over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat and boil until the mixture thickens a little, and the temperature reaches 235°F to 240°F (soft-ball stage). Depending on pan size, this will take between 3 and 5 minutes. If you don't have a thermometer, drop a bit of the syrup into a glass of cold water; it will form a soft, flexible ball when it's reached the proper temperature. 

Pour the sauce into the prepared pan. Set your saucepan aside; don't wash it, you'll be using it again. Arrange the drained pineapple slices in the pan. Place a maraschino cherry or pecan half into the middle of each pineapple slice, if desired. Set aside.

Make the cake: Place the butter for the cake into the saucepan. Swirl the butter around to melt it, and mix in any remaining sugar syrup; don't worry if it has some lumps. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Add the flour and pineapple juice to the mixture. Whisk until fairly smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes, until evenly browned. Cool cake in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a spatula around the edges to loosen, and turn it out onto a serving plate. Serve warm, or at room temperature, with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

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