I had been craving Pineapple Upside Down Cake for literally weeks. Weeks of pining away, dreaming buttery brown sugar dreams…but for now, I live in a household where half the people don’t eat eggs.
I’m no hot shot baker…I can tell sugar from salt. But, baking requires far more precision than I use in my everyday cooking. So, botching endless recipes trying to perfect eggless baking hasn’t been at the top of my list.
And, so enters my good friend Corie, who has been a tried and true companion. I often spend the day with her, and her little ones. A few weeks ago, we decided to try out a recipe in one of her cook books for Pineapple Upside Down Cake.
Especially when baking, I like to make a recipe by-the-book the first time, to get to know it. The cake was so delicious…everything I’d been dreaming of. And, her 2-1/2 year old devoured an adult sized piece, or maybe two.
When we made it again this week, we decided to doctor the recipe a bit. Coconut oil heightens the tropical flavor (think pina coladas), and increases the nutritional value. Coconut oil is highly antibacterial and Oh-so-yummy! Same with the ground almond meal. It adds a hint of a marzipan fragrance, and along with beneficial vitamins and minerals, lends fiber and protein. It also didn’t have a detrimental effect on the texture or crumb at all.
Plus, the gourmet health nut in me just can’t get behind the mutant-red, teeming-with-chemicals, nutritional-wasteland known as Maraschino cherries. Loved them as a kid, can’t bring myself to inflict them on others now. Frozen, pitted black cherries filled the lonely pineapple holes flawlessly.
So, this isn’t my usual locally grown, fresh from the fields, post…but sometimes a craving must be met.
Recipe adapted from Baking: Easy to Make Great Home Bakes by Contributing Editor Carole Clements. (She says it serves 8. But who are we kidding…6 at the most.)
If possible, all ingredients are organic.
A Twist on Pineapple Upside Down Cake
1/4 C. butter
1/4 C. coconut oil
1 C. packed, dark brown sugar
1-16 ounce can pineapple slices, drained
Approx. 1/3 C. black cherries, pitted. Just enough to fill the spaces. (I used frozen since they aren’t in season now.)
4 eggs, separated
2 tsp. vanilla (we used double strength from Penzeys, which is AWESOME)
1/2 tsp. each lemon, orange and/or almond extract to add more depth (optional, but very good)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 C. granulated sugar (organic evaporated sugar cane sugar is my fave, it’s unbleached granulated sugar that imparts a blond color and still has the natural minerals and enzymes from the sugar cane. great stuff if you haven’t tried it yet and tastes delicious)
1/2 C. unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 C. ground almond meal (you can make it yourself in a food processor, or buy it at, say, Trader Joe’s)
1 tsp. baking powder
~ Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
~ Melt butter and coconut oil in 10-12 in. diameter cast iron skillet.
~ Remove 1 Tbs. of the melted butter/oil and set aside.
~ Add brown sugar to skillet and stir until blended.
~ Place pineapple and cherries on top in one layer. Set aside.
~ In a bowl, whisk egg yolks, reserved butter/oil and extracts. Set aside.
~ Beat egg whites with salt until stiff peaks form.
~ Fold in granulated sugar, 2 Tbs. at a time.
~ Fold in the egg yolk mixture.
~ Sift flour and baking powder together, then add in almond meal.
~ Carefully fold it into the egg mixture in three batches.
~ Pour batter over pineapple and cherries, and smooth level.
~ Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center, comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
~ While hot, place a serving plate on top of the skillet, bottom side up. Holding them tightly together with potholders, quickly flip over, to release cake. It take some guts and faith to do this, but if your plate is big enough, you can do it!
Serve hot or cold.