Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Adapted from Chef George Higgins, my Baking & Pastry chef at the CIA
Serves 8

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

about 1/2 pineapple
4 oz butter, plus more for greasing the cake pan
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 cup cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided in half
3 large eggs, whites and yolks separated
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbl pineapple juice

Preheat the oven to 350ᵒF. 

Peel and slice the pineapple:  Cutting straight across, slice off the top and bottom of the pineapple.  Stand the pineapple upright on the cutting board.  Slicing from top to bottom, and working around the fruit, slice off the skin.  Annoying little bits and pieces will remain, but it’s important to slice these off too.  Be thorough, and remove every last little bit.  Lay the peeled pineapple on its side, and slice cross-wise into even 1/4-inch round slices.  (You’ll only need to use about half the pineapple, so save the rest for a snack.) Cut each circle slice in half, right through the center.  Using a circular cookie cutter (about 1-2 inch diameter) if you’ve got one, or a paring knife if you don’t, cut out the core.  Now slice each cored half, in half again.  (See the picture below, which might give you a better idea of what I’m trying to say.)

Pineapple & Brown Sugar Topping

Butter the sides of a 9 or 10-inch cake pan.  (Don’t worry about the bottom.)

Melt the butter in a small-medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the brown sugar, stir to combine, and simmer for about 2 minutes.  Pour the butter-sugar mixture into the cake pan and spread it evenly over the bottom.  Arrange the pineapple slices in two rings over the base of the pan.  Set aside. 

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small-medium mixing bowl.  Reserve.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and half of the sugar (1/4 cup plus 2 Tbl) until foamy.  Add the flour mixture and the pineapple juice, and mix gently with a rubber spatula until just combined. (It’s okay if it’s still a bit lumpy, but you definitely don’t want to over-mix it.)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium-high speed until they are fluffy and with ‘soft peaks’.  With the mixer set to medium, slowly add the other half of the sugar (1/4 cup plus 2 Tbl).  Add the egg white mixture to the egg yolk-flour mixture, and mix gently with a rubber spatula until just combined.  (Again, don’t over-mix it!) 

Pour the batter over the pineapple rings in the cake pan.  Lightly drop the filled pan on the counter top a few times, to allow any bubbles to rise to the surface. 

Bake for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 325ᵒF, and continue to bake until the top of the cake is golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few clinging moist crumbs, about 25-30 minutes longer.

Remove from the oven and immediately invert onto a serving platter.  (Place the serving dish upside-down over the pie plate, hold the two dishes together and invert to right side-up.)  Allow the cake to rest about 15 minutes, then slice and serve.  The cake can also be served at room temperature.  It’s great served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.




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