Published September 1, 2004.
This simple skillet dessert deserves better than bland flavors and soggy cake.
Even though juicy and sweet fresh pineapples are widely available, these fruits have not revitalized upside-down cake from the days of studding canned fruit with Day-Glo cherries. In fact, the juiciness of the fresh fruit turned the cake soggy.
The recipe was based on the simple technique of cooking fruit in sugar and butter in a heavy skillet (usually cast iron), topping it with cake batter, then baking it. To serve, the cake was turned "upside down," revealing a topping of caramelized pineapple, coated (not swimming) in thick syrup.
Cooking a whole pineapple alone with the light brown sugar allowed the fruit to caramelize nicely and become infused with syrup. Later, when the fruit was strained out and reserved, the syrup could be thickened with butter and added heat. The cake batter, however, needed to stand up to its topping without becoming a gummy mess. A series of experiments proved that adding an egg white to the batter maintained a light and sturdy base for the pineapple chunks. This classic treat, though, could not be rushed in the oven; a steady temperature of 350 degrees, coupled with 10 minutes of cool-down time, allowed the batter to set and the syrup to thicken slightly. A dollop of whipped cream sealed the deal - anything but maraschino cherries.list of recipes