CLEAN-UP IN AISLE PINEAPPLE
An innocent reach for a single lemon should not disturb neighboring produce. Pineapples however, tend to strut their tropical selves in showy displays that spell disaster. Wedged tightly alongside loose, bouncy citrus, the perennial fruit demands two-handed attention. There is always a shopper hell bent on removing one pineapple from its tightly arranged pyramid, agonizing over the purchase, handling it momentarily before casually placing it back and walking away. That pineapple waits for someone like me to brush against it just as it loses its balance, careening towards any untethered produce in its wake.
Aside from the embarrassment of tidying up a few lemons and cara-cara oranges, I placed the trouble making pineapple in my mittened hand and cradled one of the emancipated oranges in the other. As the remaining pineapples shifted unsteadily, I crept away.
Pineapple upside-down cake is one of the joys of winter. Cakes and pies have long been turned on their heads as a means of utilizing slightly tired fruit by covering it in a blanket of batter. In 1925, Jim Dole’s Hawaiian Pineapple Company sponsored a recipe contest seeking clever uses for the prickly fruit. Dole is credited with establishing canned pineapple manufacturing, launching the mass marketing of the once elusive, tropical sweet.
Cookbooks and pamphlets categorize Pineapple Upside Down cake as both a “Busy Day” cake and a “Celebration" cake.” Which leads me to believe that even on the busiest of days you can celebrate. Canned pineapple is arguably easier to use and reliably sweet. But where’s the fun in that when you can secure a fresh pineapple and get to know the poor fellow at Trader Joe’s tasked with reconfiguring the pineapple display?
Jessie’s version of upside down cake was generally baked in a 9” square pan. I think her reasoning behind that was it circumvented any fussing amongst the children. Each slice was the same size, sporting a perfect round of pineapple studded with a maraschino cherry and a pecan or two. I bake mine in a 10” two handled cast iron skillet because juggling a single handled, screaming hot pan is tricky and cumbersome. The cast iron skillet allows me to melt the butter and brown sugar right on top of the stove and then move on and choreograph the fruit. Jessie included a little orange juice and orange zest in the batter, which was probably her way of foreshadowing my forays into the produce aisles of January. This cake is truly one of my all time favorites and deserves bonus points because other than whipped cream, it requires no additional embellishment. Unless you forget to buy the cream when you're at Trader Joe's, forcing you to eat the cake straight up.
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Professional Pie-isms & Seasonal Sarcasm