Feb 1, 2010

Individual Pineapple Upside-Down Cakes

I started my baking project today with the humility brought on by last week's failure, but determined to get back on the baking bicycle (although not quite ready for the angel food bicycle, as Rose recommended). This time Woody assured me I'd have no problems. And, in fact, I didn't.
Even though there were plenty of things that could have gone wrong during the unmolding process and there were two separate caramels to make, I'd say it's a pretty easy recipe.

If you were inclined to cheat at any place in this recipe, you could probably use canned pineapple slices instead of a fresh pineapple. The advantage of fresh is that when you get a good one, it's so much more delicious. The disadvantages are that it's more work and if you get a bad one, it doesn't taste as good as a canned slice.
I got a mediocre pineapple, so it was probably a wash. Also, the pieces kept falling apart when I tried to move them to the pan. Also, my initial center holes, which I made using a small biscuit cutter, were too big. But the large biscuit cutter was the perfect size for cutting the rings to fit the pan.
As you see, I succumbed once again to cute Nordic-Ware mania. Jim has now laid down the law. Sort of. He hasn't forbidden me to buy any more, but he has said I can't retire until I'm sated. Only fair, since I told him he couldn't retire unless he augmented his meager pension by working in the shoe department at Nordstrom.
Pouring the caramel into the molds is trickier than making the caramel, because it solidifies so quickly. You can take care of that by microwaving it for a few seconds, but you still have to work quickly.
I wanted to serve it just like this, without even bothering with the cake, because I loved the way the pineapple and cherries looked.
After making the caramel and carefully placing the pineapple ring and cherry in place, the actual batter was quite simple. The turbinado sugar gave it an oddly speckled appearance.
There was very little batter, and I really should have portioned out the batter among the six molds by weighing it. But I didn't think of that until I'd already done a couple. They weren't totally evenly divided, but it was close enough.

I also loved the way the pineapple and cherries looked when the cake was done, so I was happy I hadn't served it without the cake part after all. Unmolding the pan was kind of a Thelma-and-Louise moment for me. I had to close my eyes and lift up the pan, having no confidence at all that it would all turn out all right. Fortunately (for me), the unmolding process turned out a lot better than driving over the Grand Canyon likely turned out for them.
Making the pineapple caramel for the drizzle was also no problem. Adding all the juice made the caramel a less fussy procedure than usual. By the time it had cooled, it was pretty solid; again, a few seconds in the microwave made it easy to drizzle.

I had planned to get a plastic squeeze bottle, as recommended, but I didn't see one and decided against driving all over the Twin Cities to look for one. So I just used a baby spoon for the drizzling--3 spoonsful a plate, with a small container left over - to flavor all the unflavored yogurt that I didn't use for the cake.
This is a lovely winter dessert. Rose's rendition of a traditional down-home cake is sophisticated enough to serve at a fancy dinner, but casual enough (it is upside-down cake, after all) to have with hamburgers or stew. The pineapple caramel drizzle makes a very attractive presentation, and the caramelized pineapple and cherry topping has more pleasing flavors and textures than the more typical method of just melting butter and sprinkling brown sugar on the bottom of the pan.
I already have a lot of cakes on my repeat list (the cakes I'll be able to make again, sometime after I finish going through the entire book), and this is the newest addition to that list.


Susan: "This is wonderful!"

Laurel: "Did you use fresh pineapple? The pineapple flavor is stronger than in most upside-down cakes."

Karen: "The cake is delicious--it's the sweetest of Rose's cakes, but just the right amount of sweetness. It's a tasty and satisfying dessert."

Jan: "It's very good. I like the taste and the texture."

Jim: "I really like this cake. I like the textures and that it's not overly sweet. I'd love to have it again."


faithy said...

Marie, your pineapple cakes look so cute!

Lois B said...

They do look really cute in the pineapple shape!

I also am without a squeeze bottle, so I just put the sauce in a sandwich bag and snipped a corner when I was ready to drizzle.

Rose Levy Beranbaum said...

i love how each one of your pa cakes looked terrific and looked entirely different.

raymond, i'd like to go on record that i've never received one cent from nordicware for loving/ recommending their pans. they've never even contributed to any of my shows or dvd's. it's not their policy or i would have been happy to accept their support. not ONE CENT!

doughadear said...

You really amaze me! Your cakes are lovely and I can only imagine how good they must taste but what really amazes me is your analogy re Thelma and Louise!

Melinda said...

Oh it does look quite posh in the individual pineapple molds. So swish!
Beautiful for a dinner party dessert.

I think collecting pan moulds is rather a harmless and charming addiction.
I have a neighbour whose husband collects tractors and spare parts. They are everywhere!
They don't live on a farm either.

Patricia @ ButterYum said...

Wonderful Marie! Restaurant quality presentation too!!


Woody said...

Raymond, In writing the book, Rose wanted to show her bakers and readers pans that could be used to create attractive and functional cakes. If a specific pan is mentioned like the Nordicware Mini Pineapple Pan, she has always listed an affordable and accessible pan that can be used. Presentation is always a key factor when any of us~~whether a home cook making a dinner for the family, a pastry chef's display of baked goods in her store window, or a cake baker's fully decked out wedding cake. I have gotten more comments on the appearance of the rose shaped cake in presenting the Genoise Rose cake to friends than on how wonderful the cake tastes.
We have done the same with ingredients whether it be Muscovado brown sugars, Lyle's golden corn syrup, or Wondra flour, because we want to show what a pleasurable tasting experience these ingredients give to the recipes. And always we specify that you can use other ingredients. A good example being the Rose Red Velvet Cake where we note you can use beet juice if you do not want to be ingesting red food coloring. In testing the recipes for Rose's Heavenly Cakes, in many instances, I did make the recipe in the suggested pan as well as the more common pan to see the differences, which usually were in presentation only or ease of getting the cakes out of the pans.
Maybe individuals should demand that celebrities in sports or foods show who they are endorsing like Nascar drivers with their placard cars and jackets. Some food show celebrities' chef jackets would have a few extra pounds of technicolor patches.

Virginia Taylors said...

I love it! So yummy looking. But most of all I love reading the tasting panel reviews.

Jenn said...

Marie, I love how your cake looks. So pretty and looks super professional! Am jealous of the nordic ware pan. How do you find space for all your baking stuff? I can't imagine how big your storage space is.

Marie said...

Thank you--I liked yours too!

Lois B.,
Good idea; I didn't think of that. I kind of liked using the spoon because the drizzle turned out to be more irregular.

I agree--it's always a treat to see how imaginative other people are in translating the recipes to meet their needs.
I haven't gotten any money, free pans, or kickbacks from Nordic Ware either. Just ask Jim.

Well, yes, that kind of surprised me too.

There you go. I don't have a single tractor. I love it when I bake something that's both "posh" and "swish." I don't think it's ever been done before (by me).

Thank you--I appreciate the compliment, especially coming from you.

I think that the different way that all the Heavenly Bakers end up baking their cakes shows that the recommended pan isn't the same thing as a required pan.

Hanaâ said...

Your cakes turned out great! Love the elegant drizzle on the serving plates. I baked mine in round ramekins and heart shaped ramekins which worked really well. I love orange and pineapple together so I added orange zest to the batter. Made the cake even more tropical, for some reason :o) Did you see my smiley face upside down cake? I just couldn’t resist, ha ha.

PAM said...

Your cakes look so good. I love pineapple upside down cake but didn't have the time to make it this week. Will have to put it on the to do list for another time.

Vicki said...

..."by working in the shoe department at Nordstrom"!!! Good choice, Marie!

Okay, I have to say, after seeing your little cakes in all their Nordic-ware Glory, it was worth it.
Daw gone Nordic-ware anyway. They make too many cute pans. Don't look at their seashell cake panor the Shortcake Basket Cake pan, you'll be a gonner.

Nicola said...


I love your perfect pineapple cakes with their glossy caramel! Perfection. And the pan, so worth it and like you say... if you make it another 20 times then the cost per cake is tiny, almost nil.

I love that Jim laid down the law, and that his retirement sees him working in the shoe concession at Nordstrom. There is no downside to that arrangement! Less husband time and cheap shoes.

Woody, I agree with your comments. I love that there is the option to be more creative with pans/presentation etc, but the simple approach is also offered. For those of us with less innate creativity, it is nice to copy someone elses and *maybe* claim it as our own.

Such a shame that Rose doesn't get a kickback!

Mendy said...


I love your deal with Jim. Sounds like he might have gotten the raw end of it... ;)

Jim said...

I have to admit, it keeps me interested and happy at work - if any problems come up, all I have to do is think "shoes, Nordstrom's [shudder]."

Wafae said...

Hi Marie,
I love how your cake turned out, with paying attention to details stated in Rose's book. You're right about the fresh pineapple, the fresher the better but if they're not purchased at their peak season, they could be a pain to deal with...
you should get an email from soon about joining the baking the club.


Hanaâ said...

My friend Wafae will be joining the Heavenly Cake Bakers. Yay! Any idea how much arm twisting and bribing I had to do? Ha ha. Just kidding, of course. When you’re a VERY busy mom it’s understandable that you have to do some schedule-shuffling to make time for a commitment such as HCB. She has baked several cakes from RHC already and they were all delicious. Looking forward to having her bake with us. I’ll continue to drive a whole 1 mile and stop by her house from time to time to do some “quality control”, and she’ll continue to do the same :o)

Marie said...

Yes, I like to collect the tasting panel comments too--at first people were reluctant to do it, but now they know it's expected.

Well, there's a top shelf in my kitchen that I can only reach with a step ladder--that's where a lot of these pans go. I also have an area in a basement closet where seldom-used baking things accumulate. If I had Faithy's tiny space, I'd have to think twice about buying a new pan.

I loved your smiley face! And the hearts, too.

Sugar Chef,
I'm sure you already have a standard pineapple upside down recipe, but this is definitely worth trying.

I don't know why he's so opposed to the shoe department job. I'm sure he'd be very happy if I bought a new pair of shoes (at a discount) once or twice a week.

Marie said...

I'm glad you agree with my math logic. Other people, who shall remain nameless, are less convinced.

Spoken like a man. Did you notice that Nicola thinks it's a win-win situation?

I probably should have checked to see what peak pineapple season is before assigning this cake.

You're both lucky that you'll have each other for quality control--of course, you'll each have to eat a piece of the other's cake for that to work, which will require you to have a two-piece rule.