More than one thing was upside down in our house last week.
Yes, that’s an upside down bathtub, and very soon it will be upstairs in its rightful place after taking up space in the middle of our living room floor for more than two weeks.
Our bathroom renovation is on going but the end is in clear sight. These things always take longer than you expect or want but I’ve been surprisingly patient about the inconvenience, even in the midst of hosting my father in-law for a 10-day visit. Six people sharing one bathroom for 10 days and we are still courteous and friendly with each other; a testament to our collective good nature and strong sense that it’s a privilege to complain about such things.
The other object upside down in our house recently is this cake, perhaps the 20th century’s most notorious retro-chic dessert creation, the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.
The name refers to the way the cake is served: flipped out of the pan so the bottom becomes the top, revealing a moist topping, commonly consisting of fruit caramelized in a melted sugary-butter blend.
The idea of cooking a cake upside down is a technique that’s been around since the Middle Ages when cakes were cooked in cast iron skillets on top of the stove.
Today we bake them in ovens and use almost any kind of cake pan, from square to round to bundt, to individual cakes made in a cupcake tin. I baked mine in my trusted old blackened cast iron skillet.
I’ve always liked this dessert but I find it cloyingly sweet. Since my youngest recently requested it for his birthday I felt determined to come up with a version to satisfy not only those family members with wheat sensitivities but also my lack of an overly sweet tooth.
Three tries later and mission accomplished. I used fresh instead of canned pineapple; pitted sour cherries, which are not as pretty or as retro as maraschino cherries but still taste great; coconut oil instead of butter; honey instead of sugar, and almond flour in lieu of wheat flour.
Don’t feel limited to using pineapple. Apples, blueberries, prunes and apricots supposedly work lovely, too. Not a fan of cherries? Try pecans or walnuts.
No matter what fruit you choose the resulting presentation can be quite striking, especially if you take care to arrange the fruit before spooning on the batter which, I learned, you do very carefully so as to not disturb the placement of the fruit.
Frosting is unwarranted. I served this one with whipped cream and a few extra cherries.
And guess what? My post is a timely one because April 20th is National Upside Down Cake Day.
Pineapple Upside Down Skillet Cake
2 cups almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs, separated. Beating the egg whites and then folding into the batter results in a lighter cake.
10 tbsp honey
6 tbsp melted coconut oil or oil of your choice. Olive oil works well, too.
2 tsp vanilla extract
at least 3 slices of fresh pineapple, 1/2 inch thick
pitted cherries for decorating (I used sour cherries in a light syrup but you could use fresh or frozen too)
Preheat oven to 325 F
Lightly grease a 10 inch cast iron skillet. I sprayed mine with coconut oil.
Place 3 tablespoons of the honey in the skillet. Slightly warm over low heat so the honey gets runny and spreads evenly. Remove from heat and arrange the pineapple slices and cherries in a decorative pattern in the pan. Place the skillet in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.
Mix almond flour, baking powder and salt.
In a medium bowl cream the eggs yolks with the remaining honey. Add the coconut oil and vanilla, and mix to combine. Add the almond mixture and combine well. Beat the egg whites and fold into batter.
Remove skillet from oven and carefully pour batter over the top of the fruit and smooth it out so as to not disturb the pattern. Return to oven and bake for 25 minutes. Touch the top of the cake lightly with a fingertip. If it springs back then it’s done. If not, allow to bake for a few more minutes.
Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a plate. Serve warm with whipped cream and more cherries.
Store any remaining slices in an airtight container in the fridge.