Funny little story about my relationship with pineapple upside down cake: Him and I were in an intense long-distance relationship for a long time. During that time, like all normal long-distance couples, we experienced significant ups and downs with the relationship itself. It so happened that during one of the downs, Him got a little too close to another girl. So much so that it became a regular source of irritation for me- and so much so, that when there was a potluck dinner and The Cow brought a pineapple-upside down cake that Him came home and called me about, raving, (raving!), I developed a deep desire to buy every pineapple in the world and eviscerate it.
Him and I eventually patched our relationship up and got around to getting married and then married and then moving to NYC. But one thing remained: my hatred of everything pineapple upside down cake continued. He could have done anything: I witnessed begging, pleading, promises of doing dishes for months, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to make that damn thing. The COW had made it! Therefore, I wouldn’t. It was as simple as that.
Him, being Him, (read: as obstinate as a donkey), however, chose his moment when I was going through an eggs-butter-flour-need-to-be-mixed-every-weekend-or-I’d-spontaneously-combust phase. Barely had I started pondering out loud when he immediately managed to squeak out “pineapple upside-down cake”. Lucky for him, I’d finally gotten over The Cow making the cake and set about making it.
Still, it had to be BETTER. BETTER THAN ANY PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE HE’D EVER TASTED IN HIS ENTIRE LIFE.
I’m sorry I’m shouty. The very thought of that bovine creature just makes me cross.
Witness: Pineapple Upside Down Cake- The Final Frontier. These are the journeys of honey and saffron and yogurt. Their ongoing mission? To sweeten places no ingredients have gone before.
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter for caramelizing the pineapples, plus 1/3 more for the batter.
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar (light brown works, but the flavor is not as intense)
9 slices pineapple
9 dried apricots (I used Turkish ones)
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash of saffron (this is not your grandmamma’s pineapple upside down cake!)
Dash of vanilla essence
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup yogurt
Heat oven to 350°F. In 9-inch square pan or 9 by 13-inch rectangular pan*, melt 1/4 butter in oven. When it’s suitably wet and golden, remove from oven, and add honey and vanilla. Mix gently, then sprinkle the saffron. Mix one more time. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the mixture and then arrange the pineapple slices over the goo. Place apricot in center of each pineapple slice. Add pan back to the oven and let the fruit drench and drown in the delicious syrupy goodness. You’ll want some very light browning- just enough that your kitchen smells like heaven- about 5-10 minutes.
In the meantime, cream together the 1/3 cup butter, and granulated sugar together in a medium mixing bowl. Add the egg and the yogurt, and mix. Sift together the remaining dry ingredients, then add to the batter in three separate moves, and stir until only just combined.
Remove pan, try not to lick the honeyed but super-heated pineapples, and pour the batter evenly over the fruit. Using a fork here may be especially helpful in getting an even layer on top, without mixing all the syrup and fruit into the batter. Remember, this is pineapple-upside down cake, not pineapple-inside-the-cake, but, don’t worry if you get some syrup on top of the batter either- this only makes everything better.
Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until toothpick/knife/cake-tester inserted in center comes out clean. And when you lay on the floor of your kitchen, as I did, and watch this cake bake through the oven door, try not to freak out if the syrup is boiling up through the corners and ruining the symmetry. It doesn’t matter because it’s going to be upside-down! Just enjoy the unbelievably incredible smell of warm honey and saffron in your kitchen instead.
Remove from oven and immediately place a pretty heatproof serving plate upside down over pan; turn plate and pan over. Let the ambrosia drown cake before you remove the pan. Serve warm. Swoon. Watch as everything disappears in four hours.
*I used my 8 by 11 pan, which worked out just fine- except I had to use 6 pineapples and 6 apricots instead.