I found this vintage metal cake carrier at a thrift store a couple of weeks ago and ever since I've been positively itching to take a cake somewhere. Anywhere.
ITCHING to take a cake, I tell you. I was even wishing I had church to go to on Sunday just so I could take a cake for my fellow church-goers to enjoy (that urge passed).
Have cake, will travel.
Luckily, one of my co-workers up and quit and we threw her a going-away potluck yesterday! YAY, she's leaving, I can bring a cake! ... or something a little more sensitive and sorrowful.
The cake carrier was quite the conversation piece at the potluck. I'd hear people saying things like, "Reminds me of something my grandma would have!" It's not the first time someone's accused me of having the taste of a granny. I embrace it -- grannies lived in times of very good design.
I'd also hear: "Groovy!"
People were even taking bets on when it was made. The 1940's? '50's? 60's? It has West Bend, Made in the USA etched on the bottom, but no date. There's also quite a few dents in it. I hope there wasn't a cake inside when they dropped it! I didn't mind the dents though -- I have a few dents and scratches in me too.
I suspected it was made in the 1970's (just like me), what with the harvest gold color and all. Sure enough, I found some more on ebay in avocado green. Mrs. Brady would have carried one just like this, with a cake baked by Alice inside.
You can get your own cake carrier right here on ebay. If that link has expired, as ebay links are bound to do, run a search on "west bend cake" and some should pop right up. I have my eye on a set of matching canisters for holding flour, sugar, tea, and coffee. The black knob on top is bakelite -- pretty cool.
And with all this talk about cake, why don't we talk about the real deal? I just baked a pineapple upside-down cake! But not for the potluck -- the potluck cake was chocolate-chocolate with strawberries on top.
This afternoon, it was all about the pineapples:
I've only ever made pineapple upside-down cakes in a Lodge cast iron skillet. This one was made in a regular old 9-inch cake pan. I think I like it -- the non-stick coating released the cake easily and without a hitch when I turned it out onto a plate.
Come to think of it, I've only ever made this cake once or twice. Canned fruit isn't exactly my favorite thing and I wouldn't even go near a pineapple when I was little. It's the sugary sweetness. It's not my thing.
But I do enjoy an upside-down cake from time to time at this particular juncture of my life. I got the recipe from the same cookbook I got my zucchini bread recipe from, Mary Englebreit's Queen of the Kitchen Cookbook. Ever since I pulled it off the shelf and dusted it off, I've been flipping through it and marking one recipe after another to try out.
My husband loves himself a pineapple upside-down cake. LOVES. So his eyes lit up when he learned I was making one. Once I'd fished seven perfect little pineapple rings out of the can, he polished off what was left, juice and all. Knocked it back in a few seconds flat.
I messed up right away when I was making this and I blame the person who wrote the recipe. In the ingredients list, it says a stick of butter. And what I didn't notice was that the butter is divided in the recipe instructions -- a half a stick at the beginning, a half a stick at the end. So I ended up putting an entire stick into the gooey syrup that you pour into the cake pan first. And so it didn't turn out too syrupy. It was good. Just not thick and sticky and syrupy.
For the love of god, recipe writers, if an ingredient is divided in the recipe, say so right there in the ingredients list. One stick of butter, divided. Gimme me a heads-up.
I fixed it for you, dear reader, in the recipe as written below.
I also didn't use the dark brown sugar called for in the recipe because I didn't feel like buying more brown sugar even though it was only $1.50 at the store because I already had plenty of light brown sugar at home. I'm like that.
We had this right out of the oven with a little whipped cream. So good. Oh, and a little something I liked about the ingredients is that they call for a pinch of pepper along with spices such as cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg -- I thought that was a nice touch.
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Makes one nine inch cake
1/2 c (one stick) butter, divided
1/2 c packed dark brown sugar
8 slices canned pineapple (20 oz. can)
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 c sugar
2 t baking powder
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t ginger
1/4 t salt
Pinch of finely ground pepper
1/2 c milk
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small saucepan, melt 1/4 cup (half a stick! not the whole stick -- save the rest for later) of butter over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar until well mixed. Spread the butter-sugar mixture evenly in the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan. Place a pineapple ring in the center of the pan on top of the butter-sugar mixture, then arrange more pineapple rings in a circle around the center one.
In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
In a small saucepan, melt the remaining half a stick of butter. Pour the milk into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the melted butter, egg, and vanilla and mix well. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Scrape batter gently over pineapple rings and gently smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert the cake onto a serving plate and let stand for 1 minute before lifting the cake pan (mine popped right out). Serve warm or at room temperature.