Pineapple Upside Down Cake

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I am not a stuff person by any means. I have no problem letting things go, I don’t worry when dishes break or clothes get stained, but I do have a prized cookbook that I would be very sad to see anything happen to - The Last Course by Claudia Fleming. Every time I think I have a new and original idea, it turns out Claudia Fleming already had it – pre 2001. It’s truly a shame that the book is out of print, copies sell for hundreds of dollars on Amazon and ebay. Every pastry chef  I know treasures their copy. The Last Course is also the book that made me fall in love with pineapple of all things. Caramelized with pink peppercorns, bay and vanilla and served with vanilla ice cream – pineapple is a magical thing.

I have been dreaming of a pineapple upside down cake with those amazing flavors and getting Erin McDowell’s Fearless Baker was just the inspiration I needed to actually do it. I riffed on her upside down cake recipe a bit here, ok I riffed a lot.  Her version includes graham flour (yum!) and is topped with tomato jam (hello!), but I did take her general proportions and the addition of crème fraiche in the batter (yum again!). I don’t think she will mind.


Pineapple Upside down Cake

Very loosely adapted from Fearless Baker By Erin McDowell

Makes one 9-inch cake

Topping

4 tablespoons (55g) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup (110g) light brown sugar

2 tablespoons rum

1 teaspoon pink peppercorns

1/2 vanilla bean, split

1 bay leaf

2 cups sliced pineapple (fresh or canned – you do you)

pinch salt

Cake

1 cup (220g) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (110g) light brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups (260g) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/3 cups (320g) crème fraîche

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat oven to 350° F.

Melt the butter and brown sugar together in a 10-inch (or deep 9-inch) cast iron skillet set over medium heat. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and combined. Add the rum, peppercorns, vanilla bean, bay leaf, and a pinch of salt.

Turn the heat down to medium-low, add the pineapple and cook for a few minutes turning the pineapple over in the sauce occasionally until the pineapple begins to soften and release its juices. Off of the heat, use a slotted spoon to remove the pineapple from the pan into a separate bowl or plate, then carefully remove the pink peppercorns from the sauce – I know this is fussy, but you gotta do it unless you want to pick peppercorns out of your teeth. Add the pineapple back to the pan in an even layer - if you have extra pineapple (lucky) just eat it :) Set the pan on a baking sheet, and brush the sides of the pan with a bit of butter. 

To make the cake, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and crème fraiche and mix to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to combine. Fold the flour into the wet ingredients then pour the batter over the fruit and spread into an even layer.

Bake the cake on the baking sheet until a toothpick inserted inserted into the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes, then run a spatula around the outside of the cake and invert the cake onto a cooling rack. Cool completely and remove the bay leaf and vanilla bean pod before slicing and serving. 

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Soft Gingerbread Tiles with Rum Butter Glaze from Sweet

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It's no surprise that everything from Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s new book Sweet is craveworthy, but I am obsessed with these stamped gingerbread. I have made them at least 5 times this holiday season, and I’ll probably make them again if I get the chance. They are perfect Christmas cookies - beautiful, tasty, easy to make in large quantities, and they taste great after a few days at room temperature.

I do add a bit more spice than is called for in the recipe (which is reflected below) because I like a little extra cardamom and allspice in my gingerbread. I also add a pinch of salt to the glaze because I think it helps the buttery flavor pop. t's safe to say that these are going in the permanent Christmas cookie rotation. 

A note about cookie stamps: The one I use is hand carved and pretty similar to the ones available here. Happy Baking!


Did you know I am teaching a food and photography workshop in PARIS (!) with Olaiya Land this Spring? There are only a few spots left. Click through to learn more and reserve your spot.  See you in Paris!


Soft Gingerbread Tiles with Rum Butter Glaze

lightly adapted from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh

Soft Gingerbread Cookies

6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter at room temperature

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons (90g) dark brown sugar

1/4 cup (100g) blackstrap molasses

1 large egg yolk

1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (235g) all purpose flour

1 tablespoon dutch process cocoa

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

Rum Butter Glaze

2/3 cup (80g) confectioner’s sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and warm

1 tablespoon dark rum (or lemon juice)

1 teaspoon warm water

pinch salt

Place the butter, sugar and molasses in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the egg yolk.

Sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Reduce the speed of the mixer and add the dry ingredients to the butter and molasses. Once the mix comes together, tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently.


Roll out the dough so it’s about 1/4-inch thick (no need to chill it first, but the dough can be wrapped in cling film and kept in the fridge for up to two days before baking). Preheat oven 325F. Line two baking trays with baking parchment and set aside.


Dip the cookie stamps in a small bowl of flour, shake off any excess and then press them firmly into the dough, one at a time, to create a deep imprint. Using a round biscuit cutter that is slightly larger than the pattern, cut out the pieces of imprinted gingerbread.


Transfer the cookies to the lined baking trays about 1-inch apart. Re-roll the dough and continue to stamp and cut until all the dough is used up. Bake for 9-10 mins, rotating the trays halfway through, until firm to the touch. They will continue to firm as they cool.


Prepare the glaze while the biscuits are in the oven, as it needs to be brushed on while they are still warm. Sift the icing sugar and cinnamon into a bowl. Add the melted butter, rum (or lemon juice) and water and mix with a spoon until smooth. The glaze will thicken slightly if it sits around, so stir through a little more warm water if you need to – it should be the consistency of runny honey.


Remove the biscuits from the oven, leave to rest for 5 mins, then brush or dab the glaze all over with a pastry brush. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Biscuits will keep for up to five days in an airtight container.

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