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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Caramel Tapioca Pudding

caramel tapioca pudding | apt 2b baking co
caramel tapioca pudding | apt 2b baking co
caramel tapioca pudding | apt 2b baking co
caramel tapicoa pudding | apt 2b baking co

Tapioca pudding is one of those old fashioned foods that I LOVE. Gimme your prunes, bran muffins, pineapple upside down cakes with neon maraschino cherries, jello I love them all. I think one of the first things I ever “cooked” was jello instant pudding. I loved the magic that happened when milk and powder was whisked together and chilled. Magic. While instant jello pudding still has it’s appeal, homemade pudding is almost as easy. All you need is a bit of milk, sugar, thickener, and flavorings. This version is a bit grown up, thanks to the extra step of caramelizing the sugar before adding the rest of the ingredients. I like to eat it a bit warm, with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream on top.

p.s. We released the trailer for my book last week, if you haven’t seen it, please check it out!

Caramel Tapioca Pudding

Serves 6-8

4 cups whole milk, divided

1/3 cup small tapioca pearls

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3/4 teaspoon salt

unsweetened whipped cream, to serve

Combine one cup of the milk and the tapioca pearls in a bowl. Let sit for 1 hour.

When you are ready to cook the rest of the pudding. Add the sugar to a dry, heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook the sugar over medium heat, until it is melted and deep amber in color. Stir occasionally if the sugar isn’t browning evenly in the pan.

Gradually and carefully stir in the remaining milk, it will bubble and spit, while whisking constantly. Stir until the sugar is completely melted into the sugar. Then add the soaked tapioca.

Simmer the mixture, stirring often, until the tapioca is cooked through and translucent.  In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with a splash of water, then whisk it along with the salt into the pudding. Stir constantly until the mixture has thickened and the cornstarch is cooked, another couple of minutes.

Serve slightly warm, or chilled with dollops of unsweetened whipped cream.

caramel tapioca pudding | apt 2b baking co