and thereby hangs a tale…
Suffice to say that this cake brings back so many memories of of those years in Pilani. Even so, it is still a surprise to me to see on FB – from all the discussions after Sukhie posted pictures when she baked this cake at home some weeks back – just how many BITSians of my graduating class – and some from the year before and after – seem to associate it with me. I guess I baked it more often than I remember myself !
Oddly, this is one cake I’ve rarely baked after I left the campus in Pilani. Perhaps because soon after moving to France, I discovered all those wonderful recipes in the book of baking recipes that Nadia gifted me. The delicious carrot/date/banana/poppy seed and all the other varieties of cake I started to bake after that meant that I never thought to make this old favorite again.
Until recently, when Sukhie visited at the start of this year and told the girls all about how I used to make it all the time in college, and how much everyone loved it. Their incredulous reaction-“YOU know how to make a pineapple upside-down?!” – was both amusing and revealing, as I had no idea that the the girls were familiar with this cake, nor that they liked it a lot.
As I cast about in my mind for the recipe from long ago, I remembered suddenly the only time I made it in France. It was in my kitchen in the little studio we rented in the village square of Valbonne. Erin had come over to play a game of scrabble and had just eaten a slice and asked how I’d made it. When I told her the ingredients and the quantities, she said, “Well that’s like a pound cake, then.” And that’s how I found out that what we used to make so often in Pilani was basically what’s known as a pound cake (a pound-or any equal quantities- each of eggs,butter,sugar and flour) in England and a quatre-quarts in French, with the caramelized sugar and pineapple the metaphorical icing on the cake :-).
So that is how, although it’s been the longest time since I made this cake, I baked it yesterday to the complete satisfaction of Indira and Noor. Thank you, Dear Erin, for that little piece of education 14 years ago !
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Whip 3 eggs (150 gms) in a mixing bowl till they are frothy. Blend in 150 gms of sugar, 150 gms of softened butter and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix 1 teaspoon of baking powder in to 150 gms of flour (I used whole wheat and the cake tastes as good). Stir these dry ingredients in to the egg-butter-sugar mixture till the batter is smooth.
Spread about two tablespoons of sugar evenly in a baking pan, and caramelize the sugar (taking care not to blacken or burn it) in the oven. This will take a few minutes. Now place pineapple slices (the canned variety are better for this purpose,IMO) over the caramel, pour the batter over the slices, shake the pan a little to spread the batter evenly, then bake till done.
Let the cake cool in the pan, then turn it out and invert carefully to the oohs and aahs of your audience.
Et voila, behold a cake that is quite a pretty sight.
And later the next day…
The nicest reactions came today from the girls. Noor said, as I packed a couple of slices for her morning break in school – “this cake is now officially my favorite cake !!” And when I asked Indira this evening if she’d shared some with her friends in school – they all seem to enjoy the cakes I make – she said, “this is one of my most favorite cakes from all the ones you’ve made so far so I didn’t share any of it today”. Sweet and amusing, that.