Piece of Cake

Image courtesy of Bebe Au Lait

I rarely pass up an opportunity to bring dessert for family functions – least of all birthdays! My SIL recently celebrated a birthday and if you recall from my previous post, her favorite cake is pineapple upside down cake. Typically, this cake is so simple, anyone could produce it without much trouble. Also, due to the butter, brown sugar, and fruit used; it also produces a deliciously moist cake.

I’ve been busier than usual lately so I didn’t have a whole lot of time for something more gourmet or upscale this time. However, the beauty of such a classic cake is that it doesn’t require one to be a gourmet to produce something delectable. You also don’t have to use a cast iron, but I always prefer this method for ease of baking and cleaning! (Also, using a cast iron adds an extra dose of iron to anything you cook in it!) For this go ’round, I chose a simple little recipe from a vintage Minnie Pearl Cooks cookbook. It included a few more ingredients than I was used to, but the end result was absolutely worth it!

Ingredients:
1/4c butter
2/3c dark brown sugar
4-6 (toasted) walnut halves, plus more for grinding to make 1/4c
20.5oz can pineapple slices
About 16 maraschino cherries
1/3c shortening
2/3c sugar
1 egg
1-1/4c sifted AP flour
1/3c (toasted) coconut flakes
2tsp baking powder
3/4tsp salt
1/2c buttermilk
1 orange rind, grated
1tsp vanilla

Instructions:
Melt butter in a 9-10in cast iron skillet. When the butter is completely melted, prinkly the brown sugar across the bottom of the skillet. Arrange the bottom of the skillet with 5-7 slices of pineapple (depending on the size of your skillet). Cut the remaining rings of pineapple in half and arrange them around the sides of the skillet. Stud each open space in/between/beside the pineapple with maraschino cherries. Leave space around the center ring for walnut halves (or just omit and use cherries).
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Cream shortening and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients and mix into creamed mixture alternating with buttermilk. Combine thoroughly and add citrus rind and vanilla. Fold in (toasted) coconut and ground walnuts.
Carefully spread cake batter over the surface of the pineapple slices and bake for 45-55min. The cake is ready when the cake is golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the skillet for 5min before flipping out onto a platter. (8 servings)

The addition of (toasted) coconut and grated orange rind infused pure tropical flavor in each bite. The recipe didn’t mention toasting the coconut, but I figured this alteration to the recipe wouldn’t hurt. This small gamble paid off in a subtle toasty-sweet undertone coursing throughout the cake. Instead of the orange rind called for in the recipe, I instead used a sumo mandarin skin and the tartness really offset any overt saccharine flavor the brown sugar and the pineapple might impart.

I used dark brown sugar in place of the light brown called for since this is what I have (and what I prefer). You could also candy-ing the walnuts prior to use or omit them altogether as I feel like their addition was rather irrelevant. If you want the walnuts to make more sense, I would grind up 1/4c of toasted walnuts and mixing them into the batter prior to baking. In my version, I switched out the milk for buttermilk to promote a fluffier cake and complement the tartness of the pineapple!

What is your favorite cake?

Currently Reading: Magnolia Journal, Spring 2020 Edition

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