Friday, August 21, 2009

PostHeaderIcon Just Desserts: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

This was one of my favorite desserts that my maternal grandmother made -- not that it lasted very long in a house full of growing boys....

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 medium pineapple (peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick)
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350F -- with the rack in the center of the oven.

Grease a 9" round cake pan.

Place 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Continue cooking for a few more minutes until the sugar starts to caramelize. Remove from heat and pour into cake pan. Arrange the fresh pineapple slices on the bottom of the pan. (Optional / traditional: garnish centers of pineapple slices with marischino cherries.)

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a mixing bowl, cream 1/2 cup butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the vanilla extract. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture (in three additions), alternating with the milk (in two additions).

In another bowl, whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar just until the whites hold a firm peak. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the cake batter in two additions. Pour the batter into the cake pan, smoothing the top.

Bake for 45 - 55 minutes, or until the top of the cake has browned and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. (Check with a toothpick -- it should come out of the cake, not the pineapple, clean.)

Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes.

To serve, run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan and then invert the cake onto a serving plate.

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