Pineapple Upside-down Cornmeal Cake
3/4 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons juice from canned pineapple
1 cup coarse stone-ground cornmeal (for less grittiness use a mediun or fine grind)
3 whole eggs
4 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour (approximately 1 cup)
8 ounces ounces dark brown sugar (approximately 1 cup)
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 to 7 slices canned pineapple in heavy syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 to 7 maraschino cherries
5 3/4 ounces sugar (approximately 3/4 cup)
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup canola oil
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a microwave-safe bowl (or in a suacepan or medium-low heat), bring the milk to a boil. Remove the milk from the microwave (or turn off heat under saucepan). Slowly stir in the cornmeal with a whisk to avoid lumps. Set aside and let soak at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast in the 350 degree F oven, shaking the pan occasionally, until lightly golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
For the topping: Using an ovenproof 10-inch heavy skillet (preferably well-seasoned cast-iron) over medium heat, melt butter until foam subsides.
Add the brown sugar to the melted butter and stir until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the heat and carefully place 1 slice of pineapple in the center of the pan. Arrange the other 5-6 slices (depending on their size) around the center slice in a circle. Place the cherries in the centers of the pineapple slices and sprinkle the toasted nuts evenly over the fruit. Drizzle pineapple juice over top.
For the cake: Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium mixing bowl, whisking to combine.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the eggs.
Add the sugar to the eggs, whisking to combine.
Add the canola oil and whisk to combine.
Add the cornmeal and milk mixture to the egg mixture, whisking to combine.
Add this to the flour mixture and stir just until combined.
Pour the batter over the fruit in the skillet.
Using a spatula, spread the batter evenly over the fruit, building up the outside edges and leaving a shallower center so the cake will be level when baked.
Place skillet on the lower-middle rack of the 350 degree oven and bake until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes in the skillet.
Place an inverted serving platter over the skillet. Carefully invert skillet and platter together. Repositioning the fruit if necessary.
Cut into pieces and serve as is, with sweetened whipped cream, or top each piece of warm cake with vanilla ice cream. Good hot, warm or at room temperature. Makes one 10-inch cake
Pairs Well With
My grandmother made an incredible southern pineapple upside-down cake. The cake was less sweet than the traditional old fashioned version and the recipe included stone-ground cornmeal which gave the cake an unusual and unique texture,closer to a sweet corbread or sweet polenta than to a traditional cake. This homey cake is very simple to make, is very tasty with lots of wonderful flavor, and has a very interesting crunchy texture which I enjoy immensely.