Saturday, March 6, 2010

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I love pineapple upside down cake. It's warm, gooey, and has fruit so it's extremely healthy. Not really healthy, but it is delicious. When I've made it in the past, it had the typical rings of canned pineapple with maraschino cherry halves in the center, thick brown sugar and butter sauce, and boxed white/yellow cake mix thrown on top. It's a simple dessert that looks like it took some effort.

The other night, as I was making dinner, I looked into the fridge to see what ingredients I had ready to make an apple pie. (We'd just bought a 5lbs bag of granny smith apples at the market for 99 cents!) But when I looked in the fridge, I noticed a small container of pineapple that I'd bought on discount from the market, but never finished eating.

Pineapple upside down cake came to mind. "But it's so HEAVY," I thought. It's warm and comforting, but as soon as your eyes roll back into place from the top of your head, you realize that your veins are no longer pumping blood but butter! How could I make it a bit healthier?

I vowed then and there, in front of the refrigerator, to challenge myself to try to recreate the cake, but without (most of) the guilt.
What are you doing?” My sister asked, “Why are you just standing there?”
Mind your own business! ... Do you want pineapple cake for dessert?”
Mmm, ok!"

So, I took the pineapple chunks, and ran it through the food processor until it had the consistency of apple sauce. I was running out of brown sugar, and the cake was going to have enough butter, so I skipped the syrup. I added a little bit of flour and strawberry preserves to thicken the pineapple sauce up a bit. (Not really sure if that step added anything, but I was in the “Ratatouille zone,” you know? Where Remy is like, crazy inspired and just throwing all sorts of things into the soup pot? You know what scene I'm talking about???) 
My next step was the cake. I'm not experienced enough to make my own cake batter, and  I didn't even know what ingredients went into a butter cake! So, with the help of the forums over at, I found this recipe. Here is the recipe from a forum member (candykisses_Oklahoma), but with my changes in parenthesis. I didn't have all of the ingredients:

1 c. butter flavored Crisco (I used ½ c butter & ½ c margarine)
2 c. sugar (I reduced it to 1 ¼ c, because we don't like it too sweet)
4 eggs
3 c. flour (we had AP, unbleached)
1 T. baking powder
3/4 c. buttermilk (¾ c sour milk = 3/4 c whole milk + 3/4 tbs of vinegar)
1/4 c. whole milk
1 t. vanilla (2 tsp imitation vanilla)

Cream butter flavored Crisco, gradually adding sugar, beating well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour and baking powder. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk and buttermilk. Mix well. Add in vanilla. Mix well. (Spoon pineapple sauce mixture into bottom of pan, sprinkle with cinnamon.)
Pour (batter) into a 9x13" cake pan that has been sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray.
Bake 350 for around 25-30 min. or until toothpick stuck in center of cake comes out clean. (Or, in my case, cover the cake with foil when the top becomes alarmingly dark, while the rest of the cake has not yet fully cooked.)

There you have it, pineapple upside down cake, but the “healthy” version. 

Ok, ok. It's not pretty. It's not what you expect from most versions of pineapple upside down cake, but it really was delicious. The cake wasn't overly sweet, the edges were a bit crisp when you bit into it, it was soft and (gross word alert!) moist. I loved it, and so did my family. And I's not really healthy. There's still a cup of butter/margarine in it, and it's CAKE! The only healthy cake I've ever come across has always been some sort of lie. BUT I figured that since I didn't use a box cake (where I would not have had any control over the ingredients), and used fresh pineapple without the sugar/butter sauce dumped in, then it had to be a LITTLE bit healthier, right? It is in my mind, at least!
 Depressingly sad, unbaked, uneaten apples

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