21 May 2011

Pineapple Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake

I love pineapple upside-down cake. It always reminds me of my Aunt Pat, who served her cake warm and accompanied with a rum glaze. I'll never forget that one Easter, she gave me a special nod, while she drizzled the glaze on top of my slice. I was now, in her eyes at least, an adult.
This version was inspired by Alton Brown's recipe. I added a little triple sec and one of my favorite spices, nutmeg. I know the use of cornmeal tends to be a Southern thang, and you must try it at least once. It has a wonderful texture, and the sweetness is balanced out a bit. I also love that I get to use my cast iron for dessert.

1. Heat 3/4 cup milk until steaming, being careful not to scorch. Pour into a bowl. Stir in 1 cup cornmeal (I prefer yellow.) and set aside.
2. Melt 4 oz (or half a stick) butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add 1 cup packed brown sugar and 2 Tbsp triple sec. Cook for a few minutes until all the sugar is dissolved, and it's a bit bubbly.
3. Carefully arrange pineapple slices on the bottom of the pan. (If using crushed pineapple, drain very well.) Don't burn your fingers! Sugar burns are wicked. If you like, you can add maraschino cherries and/or nuts.
4. Whisk 3 eggs and 1/2 cup sugar into the cornmeal mixture.
5. Mix in 1 cup AP flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg, and 2 tsp baking powder. Batter may be lumpy.
6. Carefully pour over the pineapples and gooey goodness. Place skillet on a baking sheet. (Just in case the gooey goodness overflows.)
7. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes, when top is golden.
8. Let cool. Place a plate on top of the skillet and invert in one quick motion.

After trying this recipe, I'd consider browning the pineapple in the skillet first. I also think this would work best in a 10-12" skillet. I used an 8". The cake did not overflow in the least bit, however it was very thick. The cake to fruit ratio was not as even as I prefer.