I have a difficult time getting my family to eat dessert that isn't all or mostly chocolate. With few exceptions, they view fruit-based desserts almost like a diet option. Never mind the butter, sugar, cream, etc. that's usually present. So when I mentioned that I wanted to tackle pineapple upside-down cake, Darling Husband and Sonny Bunny gave me the tilted-head look. I had previously sold them on my carrot/pineapple cake with orange cream cheese frosting (that post is coming as soon as I can bake it again and remember to take pictures), so they were willing to endure the torture of another non-chocolate dessert. What angels.
I adapted this recipe from a great Gourmet offering. I used good ole TN whiskey in place of the rum, and cinnamon instead of the intense cardamom. That's what I love about baking - spices and flavorings can be whatever you want them to be.
To me, using a cast iron skillet is essential. It gives the cake these amazing crusty edges that work well with the liquid-infused cake.
The cake turned out so well that all were happy and momentarily forgot about chocolate. Mission accomplished.
Cast Iron Skillet Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
1/2 medium pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into half rings
3/4 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
12-15 fresh or jarred pitted cherries (I used Trader Joe's Morello Cherries)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon whiskey
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
2 tablespoons whiskey for sprinkling over cake
Preheat oven to 350°
Melt butter in 10” cast iron skillet. Add brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring constantly until a glaze forms, around two minutes. Remove from heat. Arrange pineapple on top of sugar mixture, overlapping pieces slightly. Arrange cherries inside pineapple half rings.
Sift together flour, cinnamon, allspice, baking powder, and salt. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in granulated sugar. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and whiskey. Add half of flour mixture and beat on low speed just until blended. Beat in pineapple juice, then add remaining flour mixture, beating just until blended.
Spoon batter over pineapple topping and spread evenly. Bake cake in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cake stand in skillet 5 minutes. Invert a plate over skillet and invert cake onto plate (keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together). Replace any pineapple stuck to bottom of skillet. Sprinkle whiskey over cake and cool on plate on a rack.
Serve cake just warm or at room temperature.
Adapted from the amazing Epicurious.com recipe.