Friday, March 9, 2012

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, Now and Then

I’m not a huge dessert fan, so it was a little ironic that the first few things I ever cooked at culinary school were sweet, not savory. It was too long ago to remember why, but I think we divided the class into different groups for our lab times, and I just happened to be in the one that started with basic baking.

I distinctly remember sticky buns being the first recipe we did, but the second one was a pineapple upside-down cake. It’s such a cool recipe for a new culinary student, since it just looks like a simple, rustic fruit cobbler when it comes out of the oven, all browned and bubbling, but a few minutes later, when it’s turned over and that gloriously caramelized surface is revealed, it becomes so much more.

As I basked in the shiny glow of this iconic American dessert, not only did I feel like maybe I knew what I was doing, but I had edible proof sitting right there on the table. Of course, what I’m not telling you is that most of my pineapple slices stuck to the pan, and I had to piece it all back together before the chef came over to see my work, but all’s well that ends well.

I was actually kind of hoping that would happen here, so I could demonstrate how easy it is to simply put all your “puzzle pieces” back in place. So relax. Once the cake cools, no one will be able to tell the difference. As long as the syrup is warm, your reconstruction will be fine.

I may be in the minority, but I don’t like to top this with anything. Of course vanilla or coconut ice cream would be fine, or maybe a dollop of whipped cream, but for my tastes, “as is” works best. Anyway, I hope you give this classic pineapple upside-down cake a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for a 9-inch skillet:
For the pineapple base:
4 tbsp butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp pineapple juice
1 tbsp dark rum
1/2 small pineapple, trimmed, sliced (see video below)
For the batter:
1/2 cup melted brown butter (works same w/ regular melted butter)
1 1⁄2 cups flour
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1⁄2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1⁄2 cup milk

How to Prep a Pineapple

As Promised, here's a video on how to peel and slice a pineapple from my friends at Allrecipes. Enjoy!

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