I made mini pineapple upside down cake for bookclub Tuesday night. Our book of the month was The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin, which I’m sorry to say I haven’t read yet. Even so, since the book was set in the 1950s and 60s, I wanted to make a retro-chic dessert popular during that time.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake has an interesting history that originated back when most everything was cooked in a cast iron skillet. Flip cakes, as they were known, involved some sort of fruit on the bottom—usually apples, cherries or plums—layered with sugar and a thin batter. The cake could be baked on an open fire, stovetop, or oven. When the batter was done, flipping the cake onto a plate made for an instant fruit and glazed sugar display. (If you think about it, this sounds almost like a layered cobbler.)
In the early 1900s, James Dole and the Hawaiian Fruit Company invented a machine that sliced pineapples into rings. Bringing exotic canned pineapple to the masses further popularizing the Pineapple Upside Down Cake.
I found my recipe at Taste of Home and made a few simple modifications including adding extra pineapple to the batter and increasing the amount of butter and brown sugar. It’s an easy one that uses a yellow box cake mix. If you only bake “from scratch”, well, kudos to you. I say, whatever works. Sometimes I let Betty Crocker work her magic.
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 can (20 ounces) pineapple tidbits
- 1 small jar of maraschino cherries
- 1 package yellow cake mix (regular size)
- 3 large eggs
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously oil 24 muffin tins. (And I mean generously.)
- In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar and melted butter. Add a heaping spoonful into the bottom of each muffin tin.
- Drain pineapple well and reserve a cup of liquid. Add a few pieces of pineapple into each muffin tin on top of brown sugar mixture. Add a maraschino cherry in the center.
- In a large bowl, add cake mix, eggs, oil, and pineapple liquid. Using your hand mixer, blend on low for 30 seconds and medium for 2 minutes. Fold in remaining pineapple.
- Pour batter into each tin until 3/4 filled.
- Bake approximately 20 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
- The easiest way to flip these cakes from the muffin tin is to place a platter or cookie sheet on top of the muffin tin and turn over. Then, carefully place each individual cake on a wire rack and cool completely.
Serve as soon as possible.
My mini pineapple upside down cake was a hit at book club. Regarding The Swans of Fifth Avenue, reviews were mixed. I plan to read it because I’m intrigued by Truman Capote. What a brilliant, tortured train wreck.
I’m curious if you’ve read The Swans of Fifth Avenue, and if so, what did you think? And, do you have a favorite Capote book?
Grace Grits and Gardening
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