Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pineapple Skillet Upside-Down Cake

I have had a pineapple sitting on my counter for well over a week now. I kept thinking I would slice it up and eat it at work, but for whatever reason it never worked out like that. This week I'm working swings and I don't snack at work as much so I knew I wouldn't really want to just eat it. I started looking for some recipes that use fresh pineapple and of course found a pineapple upside-down cake.

It was an obvious choice to make an upside-down cake, but I found a couple of different versions and opted for the slightly different version -- made in a skillet. I got the recipe from our Rick Bayless Mexican Everyday book and while there aren't a lot of desserts in the book, this one looked interesting and slightly less guilt inducing than most cakes. I like the dinners in the book since they tend to focus on fresh ingredients and really basic meals, but I also know that every time we plan to use it for dinner, we have to add at least 30 minutes to the time we think the meal will take to make since there are so many steps that sound simple, and end up being fairly time-consuming.

This cake was no exception. In concept it sounds quick and easy. Heat up butter in a pan, pour it in a bowl, sprinkle brown sugar and pineapple into the skillet, mix cake ingredients, pour that over the pineapple then bake. Of course, first I had to cut up the pineapple. Not hard to do, but it takes time. You also have to make brown butter in the skillet -- again, not hard at all, but time-consuming.

My other complaint is that in his blurb about the cake he mentions that the fruit is sauteed in the pan before being topped with the cake mixture and baked, but in his instructions he just has you layer the fruit on top of the brown sugar in the hot pan -- no mention of whether the pan should still be on the stove heating up or whether it should be pulled off the heat. I ended up pulling the pan off the heat since it didn't specify, but in the finished product I wish I would have cooked the pineapple some to have it break down a little more -- either that or I should have cut it into smaller pieces.

The cake wasn't bad at all, but I wanted more cake and a little less pineapple. That's probably what I get for opting for the "healthier" version. I usually skip right over anything that labels itself "healthy" "fat-free" "low-fat" and especially "vegan" since those labels almost always (there are exceptions of course) also mean low flavor, dry, or just plain nasty -- at least as far as dessert is concerned.

I used half regular flour and half whole-wheat pastry flour in the cake -- the book calls for half whole wheat and half regular -- the flavor was good and it wasn't dry... I just wanted more cake to fruit proportions. I guess it just goes back to my philosophy towards dessert, I don't get to eat a lot of what I make, so I want those two or three bites I do eat to be really, really good.
This was only okay -- at least in my opinion.

6 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 cups 1/2 inch cubed, cleaned pineapple
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (or more all purpose flour)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt

Preheat the oven to 375. Melt the butter in a large (10-inch) skillet, with an ovenproof handle, over medium heat. Swirl the butter in the skillet until it turns nut-brown, then pour it into a medium bowl. Without wiping out the skillet, sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the bottom. Top with the fruit in an even layer.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, soda and baking powder. Add the white sugar to the browned butter and whisk until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the egg, then the buttermilk or yogurt. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ones and whisk to combine.

Pour the batter evenly over the fruit in the skillet. Put the skillet in the oven and bake 30-35 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and springy to the touch. Remove and let cool 10 minutes.

Invert on a plate and serve.


Anonymous said...

My brother is a pineapple upside-down cake fanatic, so I attempted one for his birthday. Don't know how you feel about most recipe web sites, but I used a skillet recipe from allrecipes.com with great results. Just in case you want to try it again!

mr. x said...

it wasn't bad -- i'm not big on pineapple, and you couldn't very well help a pineapple cake tasting, well, like pineapple, but for what it was, quite good. AND it gave the sugar lift to finish the day off with a smile! (or something other than my usual flower-withering grimace)

-the anonymous bjs

Anonymous said...

see, i like pineapple, and i'm not a huge cake fan, so i liked the fruit-to-cake ratio of this cake. i also liked the addition of whole wheat flour. pineapple is such a heavy and (especially in this case) chunky fruit, it helped the cake part up up to it better.