Monday, August 16, 2010

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

In the past I've made chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and maple-walnut pie, but this year my husband requested a pineapple upside-down cake for his birthday. A lot of people probably think of pineapple upside-down cake as something topped by canned pineapple rings and maraschino cherries and served by 1950s housewives, but it can be so much better than that. This recipe from Food and Wine is essentially fresh pineapple slices cooked in caramel sauce on top of a light, yet rich, pound cake. The cake is rich and sweet, but the fresh pineapple flavor doesn't disappear in the caramel. I haven't had a piece of pineapple upside-down cake in years and now I can't believe I've gone so long without one!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
from Food and Wine
makes one 8-inch cake

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
1/2 large pineapple—peeled, quartered, cored and sliced 1/3 inch thick
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan. Sprinkle the bottom with 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar.

2. In a large skillet, combine the remaining 3/4 cup of brown sugar with the 1/2 stick of butter and the vanilla bean and seeds and cook over moderately low heat until the butter is melted. Add the pineapple and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the pineapple is tender, about 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, arrange the slices in the cake pan, overlapping them if necessary. Remove the vanilla bean and pour the pan juices over the pineapple.

3. In a bowl, whisk 1/4 cup of the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla. In another bowl, beat the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the remaining stick of butter and 1/4 cup of sour cream and beat at low speed until smooth, then beat at medium speed until fluffy. Add the sour cream–egg mixture and beat again until fluffy, 2 minutes.

4. Spoon the batter over the pineapple and spread it evenly. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the cake is deep golden. Let cool for 5 minutes on a rack. Run a knife around the edge of the cake, invert it onto a plate and remove the pan. Replace any pineapple that may have stuck to the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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