Pineapple Upside Down Cake and an 85th birthday

My love affair with pineapple upside down cake has been a short one- a whirlwind, if you will. We didn’t meet until later in life. No one has ever made it for me- no fond memories around the dinner table. This is probably due to my mixed background, growing up in Florida but having a family entirely of Northern descent. I made it twice last year on a whim, for another birthday, and suddenly it was one of my specialties. At first I thought I fell hard for all the interesting elements that could be added to the cake, but it was the simplicity that was so charming.

The golden layers of canary yellow fruit offset by the pale yellow sponge bed of cake- the smell of brown sugar and honey enveloping the house- humming a little bossa nova in the kitchen while accidentally eating a little too much batter from the mixing bowl- I am sure this is the very scientific formula to why we stay together- the cake and I.

I even reserved it for birthdays- for my grandfather’s 85th birthday- who I believe is the true Most Interesting Man in the World.

On very little sleep, I woke up the morning of my grandfather’s birthday brunch and slowly pulled out my spatula and scale. I followed the strict formula- sugar aromas, international music, unruly batter eating, and voila- we were reunited on a mild spring day.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake: loosely adapted from Ad Hoc by Thomas Keller

4oz Earth Balance vegan butter

1 1/2 tbsp clover honey

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup brown sugar, packed

sprinkle of sea salt

1 golden pineapple- sliced like this

Cake:

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour

4 oz earth balance

1/2 cup raw sugar

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 eggs

4 tsp almond milk

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a pot on the stove over medium heat, melt the earth balance. Whisk in the brown sugar, honey, vanilla, and salt. Let the mixture some to a slight bubble then remove from heat. Pour 1/2 cup into a 9 inch cake pan. Reserve the rest for another day.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla. Add the almond milk. Stir to just combined, then add the flour in 3 stages, folding in between.

Bake cake for 15 minutes, then rotate so it bakes evenly for another 20-25 minutes.

Let cool completely before inverting and serving.

Serves 8.

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