The cake of the week for the Heavenly Cake Bakers is from the "Cakelets" chapter, which encompasses traditional cupcakes, financiers and other things baked in ingot-shaped pans, tartlets--well, all things baked in individual serving sized pieces. (For various values of 'serving'.) It's also the first time I've ever made a pineapple upside-down cake, that not being a combination that calls to me. Nothing objectionable, you understand, but there are other fruits I'll always choose over pineapple, and the usual gooey layer of brown sugar and butter doesn't appeal all that much either. I'll generally choose a plain cinnamon roll over a sticky bun, too...
First up was the decision of what to bake these in. I wasn't going to procure the custom Nordic Ware mini-pineapple pan, so the hunt was on for something (preferably something already in my house) that had a diameter of about 3 inches and a capacity of at least 7 ounces. I had tartlet pans of about that diameter, but too shallow to safely contain the cake. I finally decided on a "Texas muffin pan", a super-sized muffin with about a 1 cup capacity. The main drawback is that it has a decided slope to the sides, and the base of the muffin is only 2 1/4". But, hey, that's where the pineapple slice goes, and I wasn't out to maximize the pineapple content. I went with it.
Next challenge was the pineapple itself. I bought a cored and peeled pineapple at a local farmers' market, choosing based on ripeness, and sliced it thinly. The best way to trim the slices down to fit in my muffin pan was to grab a ruffled cookie cutter set in graduated sizes, find the closest match to my pan, and punch out the smaller-diameter pieces. That went smoothly until I noticed that the automatic coring had missed the actual pineapple core, so each of my slices had a fibrous section of core. Grrr....I cut another set of 6 slices, and used 2 halves, without the fibrous area, to put in each muffin cup.
Once the pineapple slicing was done, I laid out my pineapple and cherries (to fill the core hole in the pineapple) on paper towels to remove any extra moisture, and made the caramel topping that goes in the pan first. Turbinado sugar, butter, and a little lime juice, caramelized--that went smoothly. The caramel went in the pans, then the pineapple and cherries, then I was on to the cake itself. The cake is a butter cake with yogurt, using turbinado sugar for some extra flavor. The batter mixed up easily, and I distributed it among the cupcakes with a scale to help even the amounts--Rose provided the weight needed. The cakes baked up nicely though with pretty high domes, probably because of the deep muffin cups. The result when I turned the cakes out was rather like pineapple-topped baseballs--they rolled a little on the counter, and some pineapple pieces slid down and had to be replaced.
The last component of the recipe is the only one that gave me any trouble: the pineapple caramel drizzle. I got the sugar syrup (turbinado sugar and some pineapple juice) to 300 degrees, added the additional pineapple juice, then checked the temperature. The recipe said to put it back on the heat and boil until it was reduced to 1/2 to 2/3 cup and reached 140 degrees. Mine was over 140 degrees when it went back on the stove, but I decided to go ahead and reduce it some. It worked out, as I had a thick but pourable sauce in the end. Very dark caramel, though!
Taste test: this one was well received next door. Younger niece and my brother liked the balance of flavors. Nephew said it was very sweet (he's absorbing the idea that the rest of his family generally finds things "too sweet"...but it doesn't seem to interfere with his appetite). I also liked the flavor and the balance between the topping and the cake, and thought that my decision to slice the pineapple thinly suited the taste I wanted. The two people at work who got the remaining cakelets just said "really good". Oh, and when younger niece came over this evening in search of "cake" (type unspecified), she asked if there was any left over. Alas, it had all gone.
I'll post another cake from RHC tomorrow or the next day--I made the chocolate ice-cream cake for a co-worker's birthday. We're having the celebration at the office tomorrow.