GISELE PEREZ (this was originally published July 17, 2012)
Mention pineapples, and most Americans will conjure up images of the Hawaiian Islands. But the fact is, pineapples are native to South America, and that hundreds of millions of dollars worth of pineapples are grown in Central America. Furthermore, imports of pineapples- along with other tropically grown food items- make up a significant portion of the Port of Southern Louisiana’s import trade. Now, I don’t know if that’s why New Orleanians love pineapples, but they absolutely do.
My Aunt Leticia made a Pineapple Sherbet that my mother pined for years after Aunt Leticia was gone. She also often added pineapple juice to her layer cake batter. And many New Orleans Creoles still refer to a traditional white cake filled with pineapple filling as a New Orleans wedding cake.
One of our favorite pineapple desserts (and I’m sure Americans in other parts of the country agree) is Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Nancie McDermott, in her book Southern Cakes, states “since Dole company put canned pineapples on the map early in the last century, this cake has been a standard contribution to Southern covered dish suppers and family reunions.”
I’ve been tweaking my Pineapple Upside Down cake recipe lately, and judging by how quickly it disappeared from the last family gathering I brought it to, I’d say this one is a real keeper.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice from the canned pineapples
- 1-2 tablespoons dark rum
- 8 pineapple slices, packed in their own juices
- 12-15 pecan halves
- 8 maraschino or fresh cherries, pitted
- 7 ounces butter
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the topping:
1. Drain pineapple slices and set to dry on a paper towel. Do the same with 8 maraschino cherries, if using.
2. Add the 6 tablespoons of butter to a 12 inch cast iron pan (I keep one cast iron pan aside, specifically for upside down cakes, to prevent there being any other smells invading the pastries), and heat until bubbling.
3. Add the brown sugar and stir for about 3 minutes until it’s dissolved and smooth. If there are a couple of lumps still, don’t worry. They’ll dissolve in baking.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the juice and rum. If the sugar is very hot, be careful of it splattering up at you.
5. Place the pineapple slices in a decorative pattern around the pan, and then place the cherries and pecans in the in between spaces.
For the cake:
1. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Add the eggs one at a time, and stir in the vanilla.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the baking powder, baking soda and salt into the flour until completely mixed.
4. Add the flour mixture, in three additions, alternating with the sour cream.
5. Spoon the batter gently over the pineapple slices, then spread the batter with a spatula to smooth and distribute evenly.
6. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
7. Allow the cake to cool for 3-4 minutes on a wire rack, then invert carefully onto a platter.