Sunday, May 9, 2010

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Challenge

Just over a week ago Jen over at Jen's Shangri-La requested a pineapple upside-down cake recipe to satisfy the senses. Most of the regular recipes used a plain buttercake batter (oftentimes made from packet mix) with a canned pineapple topping. A slice of mediocre anyone? Ready to tear this down and rebuilt it?

First off, the main event - saucy pineapple topping. Fresh pineapple! The tart taste-bud defibrillating acidity of a fresh pineapple cuts through the sickly butter-caramel sauce surrounding it. And there should be just enough sauce to dribble down each slice of cake. It's the way it should be!

The cake needs to be... a little different perhaps? I tried cardamom. (Or as the health food shop lady "corrected" me - "cardamon".) Cardamom is... hard to explain. Cinnamon, citrus and pepper come to mind. It's highly fragrant and can be overpowering so just a small amount as an aromatic is perfect and enough to tweak the experience up a notch. I bought the whole pods, emptied out the seeds from about four of them and ground them in a mortar and pestle. This one little spice makes this cake.

The addition of some Drambuie (spiced honey brandy) also adds an extra dimension. Don't worry about getting the kids blotto, the alcohol will be all cooked out by the time you get to eat it, leaving a rich depth of flavour.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake All Grown Up!

1/2 pineapple, peeled, quartered and sliced
100g butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 - 1 tsp ground cardamom seeds
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
100g butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tab Drambuie (spiced honey brandy - optional)
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice

Preheat oven to 180c. Grease a loaf tin or 10" round cake tin. In a pan, melt butter and sugar together and cook over a low heat for 4 minutes. Pour into the bottom of the cake tin then layer pineapple on top.

In a sifter, add the flour, cardamom, baking powder and salt. Beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy, add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla and Drambuie, beat well. Sift in half of the flour, then add pineapple juice, then the rest of the flour, beating well between each addition. Pour the batter over the caramel and pineapple and bake for around 40 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean. Stand in tin for 5 minutes before inverting onto a plate.

Serve with vanilla icecream, lightly whipped cream or like someone did - with creamy toffee chunk icecream and a nip of Drambuie.

More notes about the cardamom: The whole pods can be ground, but will often give a bitter flavour. Leave the seeds inside the pods until you're about to grind them - they spoil and can go rancid quickly. Buying ready ground cardamom is expensive and will have likely lost most of its flavour, and certainly it's freshness. I bought about 10 times the amount of whole fresh pods I needed from the health food shop for 50c. I used just over half a teaspoon of the ground seeds, the original recipe had three whole teaspoons and I can't begin to imagine how strong that would be. I definitely advise using a smaller amount first off, especially if you've never had it before. If it scares you, you can trade the cardamom for cinnamon, nutmeg or mixed spice - but I think it's definitely worth trying out. We loved it!


Jen said...

OH YEAH BABY!!! THIS MAY MAKE MY PINEAPPLE EXPERIENCE WORTHWHILE!!! THANK YOU!!!!Now, off to get a fresh one, I'm all out....

Nelly said...

Bloody hell Elsie, cut it out would ya!!

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