23 Sep // Upside down, round and round

In the latest edition of Cravings That Overcome Me At The Fruit Shop, there I was, staring at a peeled and cored but still whole Australian pineapple, and I knew that I could not rest until I had turned said pineapple into my very first pineapple upside-down cake. I have been thinking about cake a lot lately. Actually, I've been thinking about lots of things lately, as we settle into life in Melbourne and I continue to search for a job, house, etc. (In the immortal words of Coldplay, nobody said it was easy).  

Anyway! A dream Sunday morning at the market was had, including oysters and coffee and the purchase of the aforementioned pineapple. It was then home (to our temporary accomodation) to make scrambled eggs and then guacamole, and a frittata for lunches using all the veggies languishing in the fridge, and Tom made a lamb's heart stew, and I whipped up this cake. So unnecessary, and very over the top, but also very satisfying (baking always make me feel better, even if just a little) and very delicious: a warm, golden, sweet delicious hug in the form of cake for pudding. 

I adapted the recipe from this one on the Kitchn (see what a difference a professional test kitchen and good lighting for your photography can make), and I improved it greatly by omitting the extremely retro maraschino cherries and replaced them with star anise - a very subtle addition but a very, very good one. I "creamed the butter and sugar" by mixing it with a fork in a crappy plastic bowl (serviced apartment life) so I imagine if you use electric beaters, your cake will be less crumbly than mine. I would say tinned pineapple will be softer, and therefore easier to cut when the cake is still warm (I cut my rings a little thick) but I didn't mind smushing it slightly to get it into the bowl. Tinned pineapple would also fit into a more uniform and beautiful arrangement than the chunky uneven halves I managed to pull together. I would also suggest politely, serving yours with whipped coconut cream (or just cream, whipped or runny, or coconut flavoured yoghurt perhaps) and a zest of lime for full Club Tropicana vibes, and having a great and delicious time in doing so. Summer is coming, after all. 

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Makes 1 x 22-23cm cake (9-inch)

 

For the topping:

4 tbsp unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

½ cup brown sugar

1 x 440g tin pineapple rings, or fresh pineapple

6-7 star anise

 

For the cake:

1 ½ cups plain flour

¼ tsp salt

1 cup sugar (I used brown sugar and it made a lovely golden cake)   

115g butter

2 free range eggs

 

Heat oven to 175 degrees celsius and grease a 22 -23cm (9-inch) round cake pan with butter.

For the topping, melt the butter and sugar over medium heat, constantly stirring. It will be done when the sugar is bubbly and a darker brown. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and spread slightly to make an even layer. Set aside to cool slightly.
 

Remove the pineapple rings from the can and reserve 1/2 cup of the juice. Set a single ring in the center of the cake tin, then arrange remaining rings (or half rings if you’re like me) around the centre. Place a star anise in the middle of each ring. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.

Cream the sugar and butter together with an electric mixer or hand beaters until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs and beat until smooth, about 1 minute more.

With the mixer on low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add 1/2 of the pineapple juice, mixing until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add another 1/2 of the remaining flour and mix again for about 30 seconds, followed by the remaining pineapple juice and 30 seconds of mixing. Finally, add the remaining flour mixture and mix until completely smooth, about 1 minute total.

Use a large spoon to dollop large spoonfuls of the batter evenly over the fruit in the pan (it will be thick). Smooth the batter, then tap the cake pan lightly on the bench to settle the batter.

Bake for 45 minutes, until the cake is a dark golden-brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven to a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Invert a plate over the cake pan and, using kitchen towels or oven mitts to grasp onto both the plate and the cake pan, flip both the pan and the plate over so the pan now sits on top of the plate. Slowly lift the cake pan away. Serve the cake warm with whipped coconut cream and a zest of lime.  

Can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.