Cake of the Week: Pineapple Upside Down Cake
When people think of upside down cakes, the pineapple version is probably the one that comes to mind first. Sadly, however, it has been too long associated with boxed cake mixes (not all of which are bad) and a sickly sweet pinapple topping with those bright red cherries. Maybe I am sentimental, but I have rather nice memories of this cake, though none of them are terribly specific. There are vague notions of having slices at potluck type group meals, but I had never made one myself until a couple of weeks ago.
This is not a cake that has any kind of glamorous identity, but it does not have to be this way. I think this is actually a great cake for the tail end of winter. Fresh fruits are becoming sadder, even though the weather is getting warmer. These are the days when canned fruit starts looking more appealing because it is at least reliable and, really, most are not terrible for you as long as they don’t have any ingredients you can’t pronounce, though they can be on the sweet side.
We prefer our cakes on the not too sweet side and I thought it would be fun to try to infuse some other tropical flavors in the cake since pineapple is a tropical fruit. This recipe starts with a caramel sauce made with coconut oil, brown sugar, rum, and coconut milk, all made in a 10 inch cast iron pan. If you don’t have this pan, you can use a high sided 10 inch sauté pan or make the caramel in a saucepan and use a 10 inch cake pan.
The cake bakes up nice and fluffy with a pineapple and coconut caramel topping that is not achingly sweet, but rather subtly sweet with a creaminess that only caramel can give you. For the cherries, I used frozen ones because it was easier to just use 7-12 of those, but you can use canned ones and have lots leftover for a chocolate cherry almond cake.
This cake is a great remedy for the winter fruit blahs and remind yourself that warmer and sunnier weather is on its way. If you don’t like or want to bother with the coconut aspect, you can replace those parts of the recipe with regular butter and milk, but I do think it adds a tropical flair. Do try to put the rum in, though, because the combination of rum and pineapples is fantastic.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
makes one 10 inch cake to serve 8-10
for the topping:
1 Tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons(30g) coconut oil
1/2 cup (100g) dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons (30g) dark rum
1/4 cup (60g) coconut milk
1 20 ounce can of pineapple slices canned in juice
7-12 frozen or canned cherries, sweet or tart are fine
for the cake:
1 1/2 (220g) cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup (110g) granulated sugar
8 Tablespoons (115g) unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (120g) coconut milk
2 Tablespoons pineapple juice from the can
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Melt the butter and coconut oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and stir until evenly moistened and bubbling. Add the rum and coconut milk and stir until bubbly and smooth. Remove from heat.
- Arrange the pineapple slices over the caramel sauce. Extra rings can be cut in half and arranged propped up around the edge of the pan. Add cherries to the center of each ring and in other gaps as desired. Set aside and make the cake batter.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, pineapple juice, and vanilla.
- Cream the butter and sugar together with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Mix in about one third of the flour mixture to the batter, then mix in half of the milk mixture. Mix until thorooughly incorporated. Repeat this step once again. Then, mix in the last of the flour. Scrape the batter on top of the fruit in the pan and smooth it out carefully to cover all the fruit.
- Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Have a platter with sides ready. As soon as you take the cake out of the oven, turn the platter upside down over the top of the pan. Turn everything upside down so that the cake comes out of the pan. Don’t worry if some fruit sticks to the pan. Just gently remove it and arrange it where it was supposed to go on the cake. Cool until warm or room temoerature before serving.
- The cake is best the day it is made. Leftovers are good heated up for 20-30 seconds in the microwave. Enjoy!