When you think back to your childhood, is there just one dessert that always seemed extra special? I remember birthdays. One year on my dad's (the day after Christmas) we had Baked Alaska., it was a big show. Somehow I got it in my head that we had it every year, but it was just once. For my brother's birthday in February we always had Cherry Pie - it was Washington's birthday after all! I don't remember why, but Pineapple Upside down Cake always seemed like something special. Was it the cast iron skillet? Was it the maraschino cherries? nah... mom never put those in! I can't seem to put my finger on why this dessert has a special place in my memories, but it certainly does.
So today, a day when I make a special meal for family and friends, I thought it would be appropriate to make a special dessert as well. I owe everyone an apology, I have only 2 pictures from this dessert. I could take a third I guess, but it is the ugly remains of a delicious cake! I was too busy chatting with friends while I made the cake to realize that I should be taking pictures for all my loyal followers - all 3 of you! However, a very accomplished desperate housewife has taken several pictures of all the steps and published the recipe in a tome of down home cooking called The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Go check it out.
This is one of those unusual cakes. The batter is a mixture of butter, shortening, milk, pineapple juice, flour, sugar, eggs and leavening. It is a pretty runny batter, but don't be afraid. The special part is the melted butter, brown sugar and pineapple rings that are placed on the bottom of a cast iron skillet. THIS IS SPECIAL. The butter melts. The brown sugar turns into a glaze. The pineapple is gently placed on top. The cake batter is poured into the pan (be sure not to over-fill... I made this mistake today and spent much time cleaning). The whole cake is then placed in the oven to bake. Out it comes from the oven... quickly loosen the cake from the skillet, place a plate over the top of the pan, then gently, ever so gently invert the cake onto the plate. And this, my friends, is what you get:
Give this one a try, I think you might really like it!
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (The Pioneer Woman Cooks)
2 1/2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cup sugar
1/4 lb butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 20-oz can sliced pineapple, 2 Tbsp juice reserved
1 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350*. In a large mixing bowl, place flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, 1/2 stick butter, shortening, milk, eggs, vanilla and reserved pineapple juice. Mix until well combined. Melt the remaining 1/2 stick butter in a 10-12" iron skillet over medium heat. Swirl to thoroughly coat the skillet. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter, making sure it's evenly distributed. Do not stir. As soon as the sugar dissolves, place a layer of pineapple slices over the top. If desired, place maraschino cherries in the center of the pineapple slices. Pour the batter evenly over the pineapple slices. Bake the cake for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Immediately run a knife around the edge of the cake, then place a cake plate upside down on top of the skillet. Very carefully invert the skillet so that the cake is turned upside down onto the cake plate. Let cool slightly before slicing into wedges.