Sunday, June 21, 2009

Labor-of-Love Pineapple Cake

Or, as my husband and I have come to call it, Pineapple Pain-in-the-Behind Cake. I am neither a cook nor a baker. When I do land between the stove and the sink, I try to make healthy meals and treats (not that I always want to but it keeps the fat at bay). Last Easter I was motivated to make a pineapple upside-down cake for our family Easter brunch. I'm not sure why (well, it does remind me and everybody else of their mother, right?) but I'm happy I did. This Father's Day it was a "requested" cake. How could I not make it? It's become a family tradition :) Honestly, the recipe I found (below) is nothing short of really, really DELICIOUS. It's exceptionally moist and lightly sweet with layers of interesting flavors. And with a dollop of fresh whipped cream draped over top....oh my! It is absolutely the kind of cake my brother would happily make (where you need Tahitian vanilla and it takes 32 steps to create the final product) and nowhere near the kind of cake I would usually make. I think my cooking style lies somewhere between my mother's and my brother's styles. Way back when, I'm pretty sure my mother would have bought a boxed, yellow cake mix, combined that with an egg or two, 1/2 cup of oil and then poured the resulting batter on top of canned pineapple rounds mixed with brown sugar, lining the bottom of her round cake pan. Done. Pineapple upside-down cake.

Not me. I thought I'd whip up a homemade pineapple upside-down-cake, made, in every way, from scratch. Yep, that's what I thought I'd do. After a quick search on the internet (my favorite recipe source these days), I found the perfect cake recipe. It sounded easy and yummy. So, I bought all the ingredients I needed and proceeded to make pineapple upside-down cake. Oi Vey is all I can tell you, Oi Vey! One thing I learned, once again, is that you need to read all the directions (and check out all the steps!) fully before you print off the recipe, buy the ingredients and settle in to make the cake tonight for tomorrow! To be fair to me, the recipe does indicate it takes 35 minutes to make. Who knew it would take 2 hours! And each time I make it, it still takes 2 hours! This cake requires skinning, coring, and slicing a ripe pineapple; carmelizing the freshly cut pineapple rounds in brown sugar and salted butter (this alone takes about 20 minutes of constant stirring). Once the chunks (bubbling away in the syrup my "rounds" turned to chunks) are carmelized you take them, one-by-one, out of the skillet and set them aside. Next, you make a sauce out of the remaining liquid, adding heavy cream and rum (and you again stir constantly over the stove for about 10 minutes). But, breathe in while stirring! It is such a wonderful smell! Part 1 done.

Part 2 requires that you begin by creaming unsalted butter with sugar in a separate bowl. Of course my butter was hard as a rock so I gently softened it in the microwave (hoping it wouldn't melt!). After cracking and separating 3 eggs you add them to your creamed mixture one at a time...beating, of course after each addition. OK...this is already way to much stirring and cracking for me. On we you sift all the dry ingredients (I just put them in a bowl and whisk away) and get the buttermilk ready (yep, I forgot buttermilk so I had to stop and quickly make it by adding white vinegar to milk). Now you add fresh (yah, right) pineapple juice to the milk. "I could have just used the 'fresh' pineapple juice as my milk's sour agent" I think to myself after the milk starts to curdle. Rather than dumping all the wet and dry ingredients together you now have to alternate and mix like crazy (another 10 minutes). Nope, not done yet. Now you beat your egg whites madly in a separate bowl and fold them into the batter you just made. It does make a difference, I have to admit. That creamy batter loosens right up so I can see how important those egg whites are.

Finally, you pour your labor-of-love/pain-in-the-behind batter onto your candied pineapple chunks that have been nicely arranged in a round cake pan (that, of course, looks way too small now so I usually have to make a aluminum foil collar around it - yes, that takes another 10 minutes). Did I say, "Oi Vey?" The recipe says, "35 minutes prep time" - I spent 2 hours! But it is worth it.....every now and again :) A requested family favorite, how can I not say, "Yes, of course I'll make it for Father's Day!" It's a labor of love for family events only :) I just know my brother will try out the recipe :)

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Recipe Courtesy of Curtis Aikens (and the FoodNework!)

Prep Time:
35 min
Inactive Prep Time:
0 min
Cook Time:
1 hr 0 min
10 servings


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large pineapple, cored, sliced into 1/3-inch rings (about 10)
  • 1/4 cup dark rum (I subsituted spiced rum because that's what we had - great!)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

For the cake:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Tahitian vanilla extract (I don't think so...just use real vanilla from any country :)
  • 1/4 cup fresh pineapple juice (right...I opened a can of pineapple chunks and used the juice from the can)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (I think you can just use milk with the pineapple juice added)


Combine butter and brown sugar in a 12-inch cast iron skillet and heat until bubbly. Add pineapple and caramelize to a deep golden brown, turning once. Remove (pineapple) from skillet and set aside. Pour rum and cream into a skillet and cook over low heat 5 minutes, until thickened, stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat (to cool).

Butter a 10-inch round cake pan and line with parchment paper. Arrange pineapple rings to cover bottom of pan. Pour cooled sauce over pineapple and set pan aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Set aside

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla. Combine pineapple juice and buttermilk (or just use milk). Alternately add sifted dry ingredients and juice/buttermilk mixture to creamed mixture (begin and end with dry ingredients.) Whip egg whites to soft peaks and fold into batter. Bake at 350 degrees about 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Invert onto a serving platter.

Serve with a softly whipped, lightly sweetened whipped cream :) Heavenly!


  1. Well I must say Its Tinks favorite.
    It was to close to the edge of the counter nd Tinj goobled down the last three pieces.

  2. What a great post and what a GREAT looking cake! Very nice. I would happily make this with you anytime, sis! Super job!!!!!