Monday, December 21, 2009

Pineapple Up-side Down Cornmeal Cake!!

This recipe was SUPER special, since I was able to make it for Thanksgiving and ALSO that Thanksgiving was spent in Italy this year. Well technically we were in Poland for Thanksgiving, but we improvised and had Thanksgiving dinner 2 days early at my Sister and Brother-in-laws house in Aviano, Italy. We were on vacation for 2 weeks and were able to spend time with family and travel Europe and taste ALL kinds of delicious food! More about that later, though.

My recipe for this week was Pineapple Up-side down cornmeal cake, BREATH, whew that is a long name! I love pineapple and love cake even more, so I knew right away that I would love this recipe! I had to multi-task while making this recipe because at the same time I was helping Angela with our Thanksgiving feast! So I'll leave out all the parts where I stopped to make greenbean casserole and Angela giving me a crash course on how to peel vegetables with a knife instead of a peeler (I'm spoiled)!

First thing to do was to place the milk in a microwave-proof dish and bring it to a boil. Let me just say that European microwaves are weird! You have to turn them off, otherwise when you open the door they keep going! Anyway, once your milk starts boiling you add in the cornmeal and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. This was helpful since, as said above, I was helping with other dishes for our feast that evening. Once I was done with my other duties, though, I took the butter and melted it in a cast iron skillet over the stove. Once the butter was melted I added in my brown sugar. NOW here is the part that tripped me up! The recipe says wait for the sugar to dissolve (about 5 minutes). Well I waited and was expecting the sugar to completely dissolve and become a syrup...which didn't happen! So I thought I would leave it a little longer and maybe it would dissolve. NO, it didn't happen...all the sudden Angela and I start smelling this awful burning smell and yes you guessed it, I burned the sugar! Who burns sugar?? That's almost like burning water!! Anyway, I burned the sugar and it was hell trying to get it off the cast iron skillet, but it worked and luckily I had the PERFECT amount of brown sugar left to start over. Funny enough, when I was done with the first batch I almost threw the brown sugar away because there wasn't much left. Thank goodness I didn't because I needed every little granule that was left!

Round 2, I was much luckier and realized that brown sugar doesn't dissolve like white sugar. It will be a little bit thicker consistancy. Just be sure to look out for this if you attempt this recipe! After you perfect your sugar mixture, just remove the cast iron skillet from the heat and now the decorative part comes in! I placed 1 slice of pineapple in the center of the pan and then around that placed the other 5 slices to make a pretty flower pattern. Then in each of the pineapple circles, I put a maraschino cherry perfectly in the middle. OF COURSE I had to taste test the pineapple and cherries just to make sure they were edible for everyone else! This is HIGHLY recommended when making this recipe. After you make your pretty "flower", you take 1/3 of a cup of chopped pecans and sprinkle it like fairy dust on top of the pineapple, sugar, cherry-yummy goodness! Then if that wasn't good enough, you take 3 T of your pineapple juice and drizzle it all over to top it off.

I let my pretty flower pattern sit while I sifted, in a separate bowl, my flour, baking powder, and salt. If you don't have a sifter handy, just whisk through it really good to combine everything and get any lumps out. In another bowl (yes there are a LOT of bowls in the recipe which bro-in-law Jason can attest too. He did the dishes that night...Sorry Jason) I whisked my eggs together. Before I continue, make sure your egg bowl is a big one because this is the bowl that you use to combine all your other bowls together in. Continuing along, to the eggs I added the sugar and incorporated that in fully, then it was time for the canola oil to join the party! After that the cornmeal and milk mixture (the FIRST bowl I made in the microwave and let sit) gets into the mix of things. By this time your arm MIGHT be tired, but you aren't quite done whisking yet! Add all of the "party" bowl to your flour bowl and whisk away!!! It's ok if there are lumps, you just want to make sure to combine everything.

Once everyone had joined the party in 1 bowl, I poured the mixture into the skillet on top of my pretty flower pattern and into the oven it went. You bake it at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Once I removed it from the oven, it was really hard, but I had to let it sit for 30 minutes before trying to flip it over (hence the name pineapple upside-down cornmeal cake). At the end of 30 minutes though, I have to admit, I was a little nervous to try and flip the cake. I am not the most coordinated person in the world, so Adam was there to save the day! He flipped the cake flawlessly onto the platter and all the yummy buttery sugar ooey-gooey stuff ran over the top of the cake and it looked beautiful!

It was the perfect ending, along with pumpkin pie, to the most perfect Thanksgiving I have ever had! Angela made the best turkey I have ever eaten and we had every side you could ever think of! We were all stuffed and happy at the end of the night!

*As a special treat I will post pictures of some of the food we experienced while in Europe!! Buon Appetito!!

Recipe Rating: Easy
Good Leftover: Yes, just be sure to cover with saran wrap, so it doesn't dry out
Tip: Beware of hot cast iron skillet! It can be super dangerous, so have oven mits handy at all times!
Stay tuned in 2 weeks- Lemon-Ginger Frozen Yogurt

You can find the Pineapple upside-down cornmeal cake recipe here:

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