Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

What to do with the leftover pineapple? It was good enough to eat out-of-hand, but I couldn't resist making it into a cake. It is difficult to get through a long Sunday afternoon without baking something
I normally make this cake with a recipe from Baking in America that uses a buttermilk batter, but I didn't have any buttermilk. I found an alternative recipe in King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion. The cake batter is a geniose-type batter, meaning you beat the eggs first until their thick then add the sugar and rest of the ingredients. This batter also doesn't have any added fat, if  you don't count the butter that's melted on the bottom of the pan. 
I sometimes worry when I make these types of cakes as they are a departure from the familiar creaming method, but this one turned out nicely. Remember that your eggs must be room temp or slightly warm for best results. Also, I used fresh rather than the canned pineapple called for in the recipe. The cake was light and spongy with the butter/brown sugar/pineapple mixture adding just enough moisture and richness to balance it out. All it was missing was a little whipped cream. It's not a tall cake, so don't freak when you turn it out onto a plate.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
5 T. butter
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
1 can (16 oz) pineapple rings (I used fresh pineapple)
12-16 maraschino cherries (I didn't use these)
16-20 pecan or walnut halves (I would have used these, but the kids were eating this cake)
1 c. reg. or cake flour (I used cake flour)
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. reserved pineapple juice (I extracted some from the fresh pineapple and added water)
1 1/2 t. vanilla
2 eggs
2/3 c. sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the butter and place the pineapple on top. Arrange the cherries and nuts on top, if using.
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside. Combine juice and vanilla and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until they're thick and lemon-colored and the whisk leaves tracks as it travels through them. With the mixer still running, gradually sprinkle in te sugar. Add the juice, then slow down the mixer. Add sifted dry ingredients all at once and beat on medium speed for one minute.
Pour the batter over the prepared fruit in the pan. Bake the cake for 45 minutes until its center springs back when touched lightly and it is barely pulling away from the edges of the pan. (Note: my cake was done at 40 minutes.) Invert onto a serving plate and leave the pan on top for 5 minutes while the hot toppings drip down over the cake.

For Laura:
Caesar Dip with Crudités

Makes about 12 appetizer servings

1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon anchovy paste
1 garlic clove, crushed through a press
Assorted fresh vegetables, such as romaine hearts separated into leaves, carrot, celery, and cucumber sticks, mushroom caps, cherry tomatoes, and Garlic Crostini (page 12), for dipping

To make the dip, mix together all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

To serve, transfer the dip to a serving bowl and serve with the vegetables.