Have I mentioned how much I love Nigella Lawson? I mean, really, the woman is fearless in the kitchen.
I was perusing one of her cookbooks before making dinner the other night when I came across a recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake. It looked easy enough to whip up before dinner. I had all the ingredients. I figured, why not? Of course, I didn’t take into account that my husband doesn’t like pineapple upside down cake. Oh well! More for me.
All right, let me interrupt my story here for a moment. I know what some of you may be thinking. Yes…yes, I know I have said in the past that fruit is not a dessert and that if it doesn’t have chocolate, it can’t be a dessert. I still stand by that statement but there are some clear exceptions to this rule. Strawberry Shortcake, for instance. And pineapple upside down cake. I don’t know why. That’s just the way it is.
There. That should clear up everything.
Now…back to my story.
Between making our pork chops and gnocchi, I whipped up the cake. I knew it looked easy, but in execution — it was even easier. All you do, is throw all the ingredients (well…except for the pineapples and cherries) in a food processor. That’s it. The batter comes out all smooth and creamy and quite frankly I wanted to take that up to my room, curl up with a good book, and eat that for dinner. But…three hungry children always brings you back to reality.
So now you see what I mean about Nigella being fearless in the kitchen. Right? I mean, who but Nigella uses a food processor to make a cake? Okay maybe you don’t see what I mean… just trust me. She is. Fearless.
This recipe doesn’t make a lot of batter, just enough to cover up the pineapples. It goes into a fairly hot oven which I felt made the top (wait, I mean the bottom) a bit too brown for me. It wasn’t by any means burnt but it was well beyond golden brown. Still, the cake was moist and spongy (in a good way) and not too sweet. It was the perfect pairing for the pineapples. All three of the girls liked it. Even my husband ate a piece. I really wanted two pieces, but restrained myself.
Normally, this would be the end of my tale. However, it just so happened that my oldest daughter wanted to bring in a treat for her class to celebrate her birthday. Since this is the last week of school, I needed to act fast. My problem is this…
Wait…can you keep a secret? I don’t want this getting out…My problem is…well, I can’t really bake cakes. I’m just not any good at them. I know this may seem strange since I always seem to be talking about cake but I always over mix them. Even when I know I over mix them — I still over mix them. It’s annoying. I only have one recipe (God bless Martha Stewart) that always turns out. It’s chocolate, but my daughter doesn’t really like chocolate cake (if she weren’t so much like me, we’d be in the process to see if she’s really my child) but I don’t know what else to make.
But as I look at this tasty, pineapple upside down cake…I think I’ve found my solution!
The next day, I make just the cake batter (substituting milk for the pineapple juice) and bake it up in cupcake pans. I was so excited! I even named them — Blender Cupcakes! I know, they aren’t actually made in a blender, but that sounds so much better than Food Processor Cupcakes or, worse yet, Processed Cupcakes.
I couldn’t wait to see my perfect little cupcakes. All moist and spongy (in a good way) and perfect. Except…except they weren’t perfect at all. They were a little weird looking, actually. The edges seemed to have cooked and risen more quickly than the rest of the cakes and then fell over onto themselves. I asked my teacher during my cake decorating class what the problem could have been. She said I probably oiled my pans too much. Curious. Who knew you could do that? Next time I’ll be more careful.
Luckily, the cupcakes came out tasting just as delightful as the pineapple upside down cake. My daughter thought they were delicious — and that was without frosting. If you don’t have children, you have no idea what a complement that is!
Of course, I did add icing later (my go-to simple buttercream, see my post “Congratulations Salli”). I tinted it a pretty pink and swirled it on in big rosettes and then topped it off with a small bit of sprinkles. They looked very festive and not one bit weird. I think they will be a big hit.
When I took them in, one of the mom’s asked when Ella’s birthday is. I told her it isn’t until summer. She laughed and said, “Any excuse to bake!”
Should I tell her my secret? I don’t need an excuse.
I don’t think Nigella does either.
Edited to added: Ella told me that her class thinks I make the best cake and cupcakes…in the world! How cool is that? I know they are only eight and nine, but I trust that they have highly sophisticated palates when it comes to the sweet stuff.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
from “Nigella Express” by Nigella Lawson
Butter for greasing pan
2 tablespoons sugar (I actually used about 4 tablespoons of brown sugar)
6 slices canned pineapple rings (be sure to get the ones canned in juice, not syrup)
1/3 cup candied cherries (a.k.a Maraschino cherries)
2/3 cup flour
1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons juice from canned pineapple slices
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a tarte tatin tin pan, cast-iron skillet (what I used), or a springform pan (all 8- or 9-inches). Sprinkle the sugar over the bottom of the pan. Top with a single layer of pineapple slices. Fill each pineapple hole adn each space between pineapples with a cherry.
Put flour, butter, sugar, eggs, baking powder, and baking soda into a food processor and run the motor until the batter is smooth. Then pour in the pineapple juice to thin it a little.
Pour mixture carefully over the pineapples. This will only just cover it, so spread it out gently.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Ease a spatula around the edge of the pan, place a plate on top and with one deft move, turn it upside down.
Amy’s “Blender” Cupcake Variation:You won’t need the pineapples, cherries, or the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Substitute milk for the pineapple juice. Blend the flour, butter, sugar, and eggs in a food processor until smooth. Thin out with 3 tablespoons milk. Fill well-greased (but not too well-greased) cupcake pans with batter. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes. The original amounts will only make 6 cupcakes. Double them for a dozen. Triple for 18. Quadruple for…well, I think you get the idea.