Friday, June 5, 2009

The Gift of Thrift: Pineapple-to-Go!

The retro-tastic, pineapple upside down cake is making a comeback in a big way, at least as one of my favorite contributions to a fun get-together or a casual dinner party.

It all started a few years ago when a dear friend's grandmother passed away. As she was weeding through her grandmother's belongings, she spied this pineapple upside down cake pan, and gave it to me.

A few months ago when I was jetting off to LA for a gathering at my pal Ruth Handel's house, I
offered to make an upside-down cake for the event, and packed my trusted bakeware into my packed bags. I would have carried it on board, but I didn't want to take any risk of it not making it past security. 

The cake was a smashing success, and was documented in the Los Angeles Times. And just today, both The Baltimore Sun and Eastern Connecticut's  The Day picked the piece up on the wire and ran it again! Since the LA visit, I've made the cake twice...once totally from scratch, and the other with the help of a mix. The results were slightly different, but both were equally tasty.

Baking comes easily to me, but I've never composed a recipe. Anyway, here's my take on a successful upside down cake:

-- I like the canned pineapple rings, but buy ones that have no extra sugar added. The rest of the cake is sweet enough. Also, when it cooks, its practically impossible to detect a difference between canned and fresh.

-- Some recipes have extra-involved ingredients and directions for the cake, but any yellow cake will do. Hey, I've used a box mix, like I did in LA, to delicious results!

-- I've made the cake in a springform pan, which works well, but it's more fun for me to use my vintage molded pan. 

-- The trick for creating an easy, yummy caramel, and to keep the cake from sticking, is melting an entire stick of butter (Hi Paula Deen!), pouring it in the bottom, and rubbing some up the sides. Next, place your pineapples and cherries, and then cover the whole thing with a a cup and a half of brown sugar -- light or dark, both work well. When you remove the pan, while still warm, the caramel will drip down the sides for a pleasing effect!

-- And then just pour your yellow cake batter (either scratch or boxed!) over the top and bake for about double the time you normally would. With all the extra ingredients on the bottom of the pan, it takes longer to cook through-and-through.

I'm off to LA next week, and you know for sure I'll be packing my pan!

For more treats of the vintage variety, pick up a copy of The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details at BordersBarnes & NobleAmazon or Powell's.

The Elegant Thrifter

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

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