Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Pineapple Skillet Cake

This Pineapple Upside Down cake (or, as my Great-Grandmother used to call it, "Pineapple Downside-Up Cake") is made in a cast-iron skillet so the fruit gets extra brown and caramelized with the brown sugar. My family is big into cooking and baking with cast iron, and I was thrilled to see this cake recipe in a book my mother gave me of old recipes from my grandmother and great-grandmother. Baking with cast iron is making a big come back these days - there is even a recipe similar to this in The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I'm sure it's a great recipe, but I haven't tried it yet because I am so hooked on this one. With pineapple juice in the batter, I can't imagine any other Pineapple Upside Down Cake being better! However, I did take one tip from The Cake Bible: I mix this cake with the reverse creaming method instead of the traditional way.

1 1/2 Cups All-purpose flour
1 1/2 Cups Sugar*
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup (1 stick) softened butter
1/2 Cup Pineapple juice
3 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

1 large Can Pineapple slices (I used 8 slices) drained and patted dry
4 maraschino cherries, sliced in half to make 8 halves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

I make the sauce and line the skillet with the fruit before making the batter then pouring the batter over it. But both steps are fairly quick to do, so you can make the batter first if you'd prefer.

In a large cast iron skillet, melt the butter. Mix in the brown sugar and stir until it is all coated in butter and starts to foam. Remove from heat and spread out the brown sugar sauce to make sure it coats the whole bottom of the pan. Place pineapple slices in the bottom of the pan and put a cherry in the center of each pineapple, rounded side down.

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on low for about 30 seconds to mix dry ingredients. Add the butter (in chunks) and the pineapple juice to the dry ingredients. Mix on low until moistened and then turn the mixer up to medium. Beat for 1 minute to aerate. Add egg yolks one at a time with the vanilla, beating just until each egg is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold the egg whites gently into the rest of the batter (there will be white streaks).

Pour batter over the sauce and fruit, gently spooning it into all the areas of the pan. With a spatula, spread the batter to even it out, while gently pressing down to ensure it gets into the crevices of the fruit.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. This cake turns very brown on the outside, so don't be alarmed.

When the cake is done, flip it onto a platter while hot - (Make sure to loosen the sides of the cake from the pan really well first. For this I like to use a heat-resistant spatula).

If any fruit sticks to the pan, carefully scrape it off and place it back on the cake.

Cool to room temp and cut with a hot knife.

*This cake is very sweet; I like it as is, but if you want to lessen the sugar to 1 cup, go ahead.

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