Being a Hawaii girl, I approve of all things pineapple, even spam-and-pineapple over rice, but that is another matter altogether. Please don't challenge me ever.
And so I set out to make a fabulous pineapple upside-down cake for Easter supper, wanting a different kind of dessert, something flavorful and Spring-like. I think I managed all very handily. (Recipe adapted from here.) The cake was moist, light and sweet with a nice after taste of rum, vanilla and almond. It was also easy (cooked in the same skillet in which you melt the butter and sugar) and truly delicious. I also liked the use of pecans as opposed to cherries (a trend I find kind of harftastic), and will in fact be making this in the future without the pineapple and with the pecans, for a nice and simple coffee cake.
Needless to say everyone at the table raved...mainly because they knew they'd better, but also because it really was fabulous. My grade: A
Pineapple Pecan Upside Down Cake
1/2 ripe medium pineapple, peeled, cored, eyes removed and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds (about 4 or 5 slices)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
14 pecan halves
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 tablespoon dark rum
Melt 3/4 stick of butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet, over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium high and cook until the sugar mixture is bubbly, about 2 minutes. Arrange pineapple slices in the skillet in a pleasing pattern and continue to cook for 2 minutes, or until the sugar mixture turns an amber color. Arrange the pecan halves in the spaces between the rings. Set aside to cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Stir together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the remaining 1/2 cup butter and the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing just until incorporated. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in 3 batches, mixing at low speed after each addition until just combined. Stir in the vanilla, almond extract and rum.
Spoon the batter evenly over the pineapple slices in the skillet. Bake in the middle of the oven until golden brown and a tester comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
Cool the cake in the skillet on a wire rack for 4 minutes only. Run a thin knife around the edge of the cake and, wearing oven mitts and working quickly, invert the cake onto a cake plate, keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together. Carefully lift the skillet off cake and replace any fruit stuck to the bottom of the skillet, if necessary. Arrange the fresh cherry halves, cut side down, into the top of the cake, in the center of the pineapple rings.
Serve cake warm or at room temperature.Difficulty: Intermediate
Prep/Cook Time: 1 hr 20 minutes (approx)
Serves: 6 - 8