Steak and Bake: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

The man had a birthday recently. An orgy of biblical proportions (the eating kind) was planned, which ended up with the consummate carnivore  making his way through 33 ounces of pure meat. I told him to buy his birthday present himself. And I decided to bake a cake. So I could, you know, contribute something to the festivities.

I learned how to bake a pineapple upside-down cake a long long time ago, in a dusty land far, far away. I baked it without the fancy oven, the gleaming kitchen and with suspect baking powder. .  I mixed the batter in a hot room with no air-conditioning, the chatter of my friends in the background. We stuck our un-sanitized fingers into the bowl, licking off the batter like pre-schoolers. I remember waiting with bated breath as cake pan made its way into a rickety oven, praying that we wouldn't lose power mid-way, wondering if the cake would rise.

And time and time again, this cake would PERFORM. It would always be fluffy, moist, with the right hint of sweetness, the slight crunch of the pineapple. I still bake it now, in a fancy oven in a gleaming kitchen. I bake it every year, and just like that time in the dusty land, it vanishes in an instant. It has been and will be the best cake for me. Ever.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake


1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 can pineapple (rings)


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated (white) sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup milk

In a small bowl stir the butter and the brown sugar together and spread the mixture evenly in a well-buttered 9x2-inch round cake pan. Pat the pineapple rings dry and arrange it in a circle on the sugar mixture with one ring right in the middle.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In another bowl mix or cream (with a hand blender) the butter with the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs and the vanilla. Add the flour mixture with the milk, and beat it well. Pour the batter into the pan.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a knife/fork/tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edge, and invert onto a plate.

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