Pineapples are in season at the moment in Australia. I come from Queensland, home to the Big Pineapple, and like many kids who grew up in Brisbane, visited the Golden Circle Cannery on a school excursion. Such is my fondness for this sweet, spiky fruit and the association it has for me with home (somewhere I haven't been able to go for months now because of border closures), my dad made me a book plate in honour of it.
So obviously this cake had my name on it. There's not much more of a story than that. All I'll say is that this recipe is excellent and well worth the very slight hassle of egg separation, pineapple peeling and multiple bowls to wash up. The flavours (pineapple and ginger are a classic combination) intensify over time which means you can make it ahead, which is always a win. But the sticky caramelised top means it's delicious warm with vanilla ice cream should you choose to eat it immediately.
Pineapple and ginger upside-down cake
Adapted from a recipe from Always Add Lemon by Danielle Alvarez
It helps to cut the pineapple in slices of equal thickness. Use your judgment - too thick and they may not cook through enough, too thin and they may disintegrate a bit into the caramel. Neither are disastrous so don't stress too much about it - just use common sense. And most importantly, make sure the pineapple is ripe.
225g unsalted butter, at room temp, plus extra for greasing
200g caster (superfine) sugar
4 eggs, separated
20g grated fresh ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
220g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb (baking) soda
80g brown sugar
1/2 ripe pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into pieces
Grease a 22-25cm round cake tin and line with baking paper.
To make the topping, melt butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan til the sugar has melted and the mixture is bubbling. Simmer for one minute, then pour onto the base of the prepared tin, ensuring the mix is evenly spread to the edges. Arrange pineapple pieces on top, covering the entire surface area if possible. Overlap slices, or cut pieces to fit.
Preheat oven to 180 deg C.
Cream butter and sugar, then add egg yolks, ginger and vanilla and mix to incorporate.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites til stiff peaks form, then set bowl aside.
Combine dry ingredients together in a third bowl and whisk them together. Add half of this to the butter mixture, and gently mix, then add the milk. Tip in the remaining dry ingredients and switch to a spatula to incorporate. Then fold in the egg whites. Pour finished batter on top of the pineapple and smooth top so it's even. Tap tin a couple of times on the bench top to ensure no air bubbles remain, then bake in the oven for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a skewer/toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool slightly in the tin, then turn out onto a plate to serve, either warm (with ice cream!) or completely cooled.