Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pineapple Skillet Upside-Down Cake

For the second year in a row, my husband has requested pineapple upside-down cake for his birthday cake. While I could have gone back to last year's recipe, which was a big hit, I prefer to use special occasions (and let's be honest, most meals) as an opportunity to seek out and try new recipes. I spent many lunch breaks searching for new pineapple upside-down cake recipes that sounded intriguing, but came across this gem completely by accident. I was paging through my Rick Bayless cookbooks looking for tomatillo recipes and stumbled upon this recipe in the dessert section because I end up paging through cookbooks like most people flip through magazines, unable to just look up specific recipes or ingredients. And what a happy accident it was! This cake has the sweet, caramelized topping that everyone loves so much in an upside-down cake, support by a nutty, moist cake. Not only is this cake a treat right out of the oven, but it stays moist and becomes saturated with delicious caramel flavor if you are lucky enough to have leftovers.

With plenty of berries, apples, peaches, and pears at the farmer's market, I'm already planning on making this again, although I might make a few changes, substituting turbinado sugar for the white sugar and using all whole wheat pastry flour instead of half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour. This versatile cake recipe is as appropriate for a special occasion like a birthday as a regular weeknight when you need a small treat to perk up the evening so take a few minutes to treat yourself and your family to this delicious, but not too decadent, dessert.

Pineapple (or Other Fruit) Skillet Upside-Down Cake
from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless
serves 8

3 ounces (6 tablespoons) butter, preferably unsalted
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I prefer the dark brown variety)
3 cups 1/2-inch cubed, cleaned pineapple (you'll need about three-quarters of a medium pineapple OR 3 cups (about 1 pound) fresh or IQF (individually quick frozen) raspberries, blackberries, blueberries or pitted cherries OR 3 cups 1/2-inch cubes apple, pear, peaches, nectarines or mango
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (or additional all-purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup white sugar
1 "large" egg
3/4 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt

1. Turn on the oven to 375 degrees and position a rack in the middle. Melt the butter in a large (10-inch) skillet, with an ovenproof handle, preferably nonstick, over medium heat. Swirl the butter in the skillet until it turns nut-brown, then pout it into a medium bowl. Without wiping out the skillet, sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the bottom. Top with the fruit in an even layer.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, soda, and baking powder. Add the white sugar to the browned butter and whisk until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the egg, then the buttermilk or yogurt. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ones. Whisk to thoroughly combine.

3. Pour the batter evenly over the fruit in the skillet. Slide the skillet into the oven and bake about 35 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and springy to the touch at the center. Remove and let cool 10 minutes.

4. Invert a plate over the skillet, then, holding plate and skillet firmly together with towels or pot holders, invert the two in one swift movement. Remove the skillet, and the cake is ready to serve. It's best right out of the oven.

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