Wednesday, April 23, 2014
I’m hesitant to use that overworked catch-all phrase, “comfort food.” But there’s no getting around it this time of year when the high notion of wholesome, hearty fare is so appealing.
The usual suspects prevail. The perfect meatloaf or splendid stews or roasts are meals made for cold weather appetites.
Desserts, too, take on special significance when all those marvelous gooey, sticky sweets sound so good when seasonal fruits and berries are out of reach. Sure you can get almost any ingredient year-round imported from elsewhere. But I like to keep it local or use other options.
At this time of year, one of my favorite desserts is an old-fashioned pineapple upside cake.This version is baked in a special tube pan that has a stationary bottom. Do not substitute an angel-food tube pan with removable bottom. Leroux ,Bridge Kitchenware or the kitchen shop at Bed Bath and Beyond carry this pan.
Versatile tube pan, also great for pounds cakes
The cake is one of those “big mama” cakes that just epitomize soul-food baking. I’ve adapted it from one of my favorite books, “Soul Food,” by Sheila Ferguson, who was a pop singer in the seventies but also recorded the culinary heritage of her large southern family with a collection of recipes that are fabulous.
It’s an extremely rich cake made with copious amounts of butter and sugar that support a scrumptious glaze of pineapple slices and juices.
Old-Fashioned Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Servings:8 to 10
8-ounce can pineapple slices in juice
2 cups plus 4 tablespoons (4 ½ sticks) butter, at room temperature, plus extra butter to grease the pan
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 cups sifted (before measuring) all-purpose flour
8 Maraschino cherries
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Very lightly grease a 10-inch tube pan with stationary bottom.
Drain the pineapple and reserve the juice.
Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan or microwave and pour it into the bottom of the tube pan. Drop the brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of the reserved pineapple juice into the melted butter-sugar mixture. Stir until mixed well and nearly dissolved.
Lay the pineapple slices over the sugar mixture in the bottom of the pan. Place a cherry in the middle of each pineapple round.
Beat the remaining butter (4 sticks) with the confectioner’s sugar in the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts.
Resift the flour and gradually add it to the creamed mixture. With the mixer on low speed, blend the flour until thoroughly incorporated. Drop by large spoonfuls over the pineapple and sugar mixture, smoothing the top.
Bake in the oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove the cake to a rack to cool for 10 mines, and then invert it onto a serving platter or cake stand.
The cake will keep for 2 to 3 days in a domed cake stand on the counter.
John Golden has written about food, dining and lifestyle subjects for Downeast magazine, the Boston Globe, Cottages and Gardens magazine, Gourmet magazine, Cuisine magazine, the New York Times and the New York Post.
In his highly opinionated blog, John reports on his experiences dining out all over Maine and his visits with food personalities, farmers and farmers’ markets throughout the state.