I am en route back from a whirlwind 48 hour trip to Miami Beach post a pretty exciting meeting with a large food distributor for a fun project - boxing, burgers, back bends + beer related. flying used to be the perfect environment to detach or sleep with little interruption and no connection to the outside world. things have obviously changed with in flight internet, leaving me with little excuse NOT to get sh*t done.
Home on the beach is always a good time to reconnect with my family, especially my Mom, usually in the kitchen. I refer to her as the modern day Martha Stewart. She is the only mom I know that baked fresh muffins for a carpool full of smelly rascals 30 minutes to school daily AND also required everyone listen to Harry Potter on tape on the way. Elizabeth is the best home cook there is and always keeps it simple. Her baking talent however is regarded far and wide. She has been a Maida Heatter fan girl ever since she was young. Growing up, my Aunt Donna and her boyfriend wanted to bake a cake, invited my Mom to join, allowed her only to watch the process and then required her to clean up. From then on, my mom decided that baking was her calling and has been whipping up cakes and pies ever since. The photo above is Elizabeth's rendition of Maida's Pineapple Upside Down Cake. While, I indulge in beer, burgers, black licorice and the sporadic activity called baking, I am not a cake person -- unless that cake is topped in chocolate icing, in which case, I eat the icing. With that said, this cake has been a staple in the Young house for decades and should be taken seriously.
Funny enough on Monday night, my Mom made two - one for a luncheon my 87 year old Grandmother was hosting and one for dinner at our house. She baked them both and planned on giving Grandma Honey the better of the pair but could not, for the life of her pick which one was worse. As I've grown older, I see how much of my parents I have in me -- their strengths, shortcomings, quirks, and more. My mom's indecision on something as simple as a cake was something I see in myself, often. And when I am indecisive my Mother always says, "Olivia, make a decision to make a decision." To which I reply, OK.
So, if I can inspire you to make one decision from this post, perhaps let it be to make Maida's Pineapple Upside Down Cake. If for no other reason than to make the decision to make the decision to bake a really pretty cake. Thanks Mom (and Maida). Recipe below.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
(adapted from Maida Heatter's Cakes)
You will need a large cake pan approx 10" (not loose bottomed), 12-inch pie plate
or a 10" in diameter cast iron skillet, which is what I used
- 2 1/3 oz (5 1/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter or margarine
- 1/2 cup soft light brown sugar
- One 20-oz. can of pineapple in natural juice - slices or chunks
- 6-8 glace cherries or 10-12 fresh raspberries
- 1 cup sifted plain flour
- 1/3 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons of reserved pineapple juice
- 4 tablespoons apricot preserves, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter and pour into cake pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the melted butter. Drain the pineapple from the can AND reserve the juice. Arrange the pineapple rings in the pan on top of the brown sugar in whatever design you wish. Eat the extra rings. Garnish as you wish with cherries and pecans.
For the batter: Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Using a standing mixer, whisk the eggs together in a clean bowl until thick and creamy (start to foam) and then gradually add the sugar, still whisking until the mixture becomes thick and pale. Be precise about this. If the mixture gets over mixed, the cake becomes spongy to the taste. Add the vanilla and reserved pineapple juice and beat until just smooth. Reduce mixing speed to low and incorporate the sifted dry ingredients until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a cake needle inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and flip onto a cake plate but wait a moment for cake to set before removing hot cake pan. Remove cake pan and brush with warm melted apricot glaze for a shiny and slightly sweeter finished product. Top with vanilla bean ice cream and enjoy.