Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pineapple ("Princess") Upside-Down Cake

Inspired by the "flip" of another year, this stand-by cake has stood the test of time and is a favorite of many a pineapple lover. There is a comforting familiarity that accompanies a cake like this, and when it arrives at the party people just love looking at it. There was a time when the pineapple upside-down cake was commonplace, but we see much less of it these days. It seems that red velvet cakes are all the rage today - five years ago they were a rare sight, especially in this part of the country. But as cake fads come and go, simple cakes that are really good never fade from fashion.

In addition to it's wonderful flavor, this cake comes together easily - especially if you get a little help from our friend Duncan Hines! You can find the Duncan Hines Pineapple Supreme cake mix at most major grocery stores. I'm glad they are still making this product! I have no problem using a cake mix as a base, especially one that delivers good results. If you must use a scratch cake recipe, then find one for your favorite yellow cake and substitute it for the Duncan Hines mix.

Duncan Hines is a great story. He was a real person. A salesman from Bowling Green, he did a lot of traveling in days before interstate highways and chain restaurants and hotels. He kept notes of his favorite places to eat and shared his recommendations with friends. It was so popular that it eventually became a book, "Adventures In Good Eating." If your restaurant was "Recommended by Duncan Hines," then you earned a top distinction. He spent his later years traveling and eating in restaurants and writing about it - what a great job!

We're calling this particular cake a Pineapple "Princess" Upside-Down Cake because Ralph wanted to infuse some Hawaiian-style music into the episode and we found a Teresa Brewer record, "Aloha from Teresa" to play in the background. One of the tracks is "Pineapple Princess" - what a hoot! So, we had to include it somehow!

My preferences in making this cake include using crushed pineapple instead of rings (I think it gives more pineapple per bite), chopping the cherries, using dark brown sugar (if you have it - if not, light brown is great) and using the drained pineapple juice from the can in the cake mix.

Pineapple "Princess" Upside-Down Cake

1 box Duncan Hines Pineapple Supreme Cake Mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
reserved pineapple juice plus enough water to measure 1 and 1/3 cup
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 20oz can crushed pineapple in juice
10 maraschino cherries, chopped
1 cup packed dark brown sugar (can also use light brown sugar)
1 stick butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain and reserve juice from can of pineapple and set aside. In a 9x13 pan, place stick of butter and put pan in heated oven until butter is melted. Turn pan to evenly distribute melted butter. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over melted butter. Next, distribute drained pineapple over brown sugar. Use all the pineapple. Evenly distribute cherries over pineapple. Your bottom (which is really your top) is now done. Set pan aside and prepare the cake batter.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix, eggs, oil, pineapple juice (and water to make 1 and 1/3 cup), baking powder and soda. Beat with electric mixer for two minutes until well combined. Pour batter over brown sugar/pineapple/cherry mixture on bottom of baking dish. Place in oven for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean or the center springs back when gently touched. Cool pan on rack for 10-15 minutes. Take a piece of waxed paper larger than the pan and place on top. Flip the cake over onto the waxed paper and let it hold there for 20-30 seconds. Remove pan. If you have any topping stuck to the bottom of the pan, use a spatula to remove it from the pan and spread it back on top of the cake.

Let the cake cool completely on the waxed paper. Once the cake has cooled, use the waxed paper to lift the cake and gently set it back in the baking pan. Trim the excess paper from the sides and your upside-down cake will now be right side-up! Enjoy!

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