Pineapple Pecan Upside-Down Cake

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Ingredients

  • 1 large can pineapple rings in heavy syrup (see note)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey (preferably orange blossom variety)
  • 1 cup pecan halves (or sliced almonds)
  • Maraschino cherries
  • 1 1/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter softened
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or substitute drops of almond extract to taste)

Directions

  1. If you’ll be baking the cake directly in a cast-iron pan, choose a deep 10-12 inch variety. If you prefer, use a 10-inch springform pan, which should have a baking sheet positioned on the rack underneath it in case syrup from the topping seeps out during baking.
  2. Spray sides of pan liberally with nonstick vegetable oil coating. (If you are baking the cake in the same pan in which the topping will be prepared, coat the sides with nonstick cooking spray after arranging the fruit and just before spooning in the batter.)
  3. Melt 1 stick of butter in the pan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and stir until it is bubbling and melted. Stir in the honey, blending well. Remove from heat. (If you are using a separate baking pan, transfer the topping to that pan using a flexible spatula.)
  4. Arrange drained pineapple slices in a decorative pattern on top of the sugar-honey syrup; next place a maraschino cherry in center of each ring and arrange additional cherries amongst the pineapple. Scatter pecans generously to fill empty spaces. Let topping cool while you prepare the batter.
  5. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  6. Place 2 sticks of butter and the sugar in a mixing bowl and cream until fluffy.
  7. Beat in eggs one at a time until mixture is light and fluffy.
  8. With mixer running on low speed, gradually add the sifted dry ingredients to combine. Then add vanilla and beat on medium speed about 1 minute, stopping to scrape bottom and sides of bowl with a flexible spatula.
  9. Spoon batter over prepared topping, smoothing gently in order to avoid disturbing pattern you’ve created with fruit.
  10. Place on middle rack of preheated oven and bake approximately 1 hour, until cake has risen, golden brown, and tests done using a toothpick piercing near center of layer. Remove from oven to a wire rack and cool for about 20 minutes.
  11. While cake is still fairly warm, quickly run the blade of a thin, sharp knife around edges of pan to loosen, then place a serving plate over top and quickly invert cake onto plate. (If any pieces of fruit or nuts cling to the pan, gently remove them and reposition them on cake.)

Tips/Techniques

Cake is best served warm or at room temperature. It keeps nicely for up to 24 hours under a cake dome in a cool room. You can refrigerate the cake for longer periods of time, but return it to room temperature before serving. Plain vanilla ice cream or a small dollop of freshly prepared whipped cream with only a little sugar and a touch of vanilla are best accompaniments—or just serve with good, strong coffee and get ready for a long conversation with good friends.
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