Cook 1 - Escape to pineapple mountain
Hali'imaile General Store, a restaurant about a mile down a farm access road. Since the restaurant is located on an old pineapple plantation and features local Hawaiian produce, I figured I should try the pineapple upside-down cake for dessert.
Everything about it was right on: the pineapple had a startlingly floral and piney taste that made me realize that this was my first true taste of Pineapple. The cake itself was spongy and soaked up the toasty caramel and the Lappert's vanilla ice cream. I haven't forgotten that cake and knew I had to re-create it.
I'm going to be honest. The pineapple upside-down cake I made this weekend doesn't come close to rivaling the one I tasted in Hawaii - but I didn't expect it to. My pineapple came not from a local farm, but from a grocery store. And I ate the cake indoors on my couch instead of on a wooden porch, a soft breeze carrying the sugary scent of growing pineapple through the air. Yet, the cake I made was tasty and easy to make, and it did its Proustian job well: it brought back memories of my trip and of how relaxed we felt that day as we polished off our leisurely lunch in a paradise that is only a short 10 hour plane trip away.
Pineapple Upside-down Cake, adapted from Gourmet by smittenkitchen.com
1/2 medium pineapple, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cored
3/4 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
2 tablespoons dark rum for sprinkling over cake
Special equipment: A well-seasoned 10-inch cast-iron skillet. If you lack a cast-iron skillet of this size, make the caramel in a small pot and scrape it into the bottom of a similarly-sized cake pan.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Make topping: Cut pineapple crosswise into 3/8-inch-thick pieces. Melt butter in skillet. Add brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, four minutes. Remove from heat. Arrange pineapple on top of sugar mixture in concentric circles, overlapping pieces slightly.
Make batter: Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in granulated sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and rum. Add half of flour mixture and beat on low speed just until blended. Beat in pineapple juice, then add remaining flour mixture, beating just until blended.
Spoon batter over pineapple topping and spread evenly. Bake cake in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cake stand in skillet five minutes. Now be brave. Using potholders or kitchen towels to safeguard your hands, invert a plate over the skillet and invert cake onto plate (keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together). Replace any pineapple stuck to bottom of skillet. Sprinkle rum over cake and cool on plate on a rack.
Serve cake just warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and a sprig of mint if you so desire.
Do ahead: Cake may be made one day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before serving.