Saturday, January 16, 2010

Baking Fun

Anyone who knows me knows that I take great pleasure (and therapeutic relaxation) in cooking and baking - but I have to say, baking brings a greater sense of calm than does cooking.

My greatest asset, the thing that makes me feel like a very rich man, is my fortune of wonderful friends. Spending time with people you love is one of the greatest gifts I've been given. Time is the one thing I have the least of, but when I can spend it with friends, as I did last night, it's always a treat.


Invitations to people's homes don't always include requests for something baked - but who wants to show up at the door empty-handed? When Gerald and Liz invited Ralph and I over for a casual evening of pizza and Monopoly, I wanted to contribute something (Ralph brought a bottle of this off-the-hook "un-oaked" Chardonnay).

Since our host and hostess have some allergies, I generally like to whip up some sort of sweet that is built around fruit flavors. And, for reasons I can't explain, I have had pineapple on my mind for the past couple of weeks. I can't seem to get enough of it!

I wanted to make a variation a pineapple upside down cake that was a double-layer cake. I made the pineapple cake using pineapple juice instead of water (gives more flavor and moisture, I think) and baked the batter in two 8 inch rounds. People don't make a lot of 8 inch layer cakes anymore. Fifty years ago this size was pretty standard, but now it's even getting hard to find 8 inch pans (I pick them up in thrift stores and garage sales).

For the frosting I whipped up some whipping cream with sugar and vanilla until it was nice and stiff. Then I folded in crushed pineapple (I drained a 20 oz. can for the juice and then put the fruit in the fridge until frosting time) along with eight finely diced maraschino cherries. What resulted was this dreamy pineapple-cherry fluff that spread easy on the cooled cake and made for a beautiful frosting.

So, while I didn't rule the Monopoly board (Collette dominated by sending the rest of us into bankruptcy - where was our bail-out package?!?) - the light pineapple cake with the fruity whipped cream frosting was enjoyed by all!

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