Iron Skillet and a Birthday
What’s your favorite cake?
When I asked my Dad that question I was amazed at how instantly and without any hesitation he exclaimed “Pineapple Upside Down Cake”! I had forgotten that was his favorite cake and haven’t baked or eaten that type of cake in probably 30 years. Since his birthday was only a few days away and I wanted to bake him a cake, I looked through my family recipes just knowing that I would have the recipe that Mom used many, many times. But I did not have it. Thankfully, Mom came to my rescue by providing me with a scanned copy of the recipe from her cookbook along with some family history about it. We all know that the messiest pages in the cookbook have the best recipes on them and this is no exception, just see for yourself from the scan.
This is another one of those recipes that conjures up sweet memories of parents and grandparents. Once I read the recipe, I had to ask Mom some specifics about the ingredients and process so she shared a few other tidbits:
I always used maraschino cherries – I have a slight recollection that mother may have once or twice used whole pecan pieces in the pineapple holes rather than the maraschino cherries. I never added whipped cream to it and can’t even imagine why anyone would. I always used the skillet to make it. It was a perfect fit for the amount of pineapples in the can – after I broke the last one or two into quarters to fit in the spaces left by pineapple circles next to one another. I can remember worrying when I first used the skillet whether the handle would survive the oven temperatures or not; fortunately, it did. I don’t recall what mother baked hers in but the picture of the cake in the recipe looks to be similar in size to the one from my skillet. I rarely had patience to wait very long to eat a dessert, so we likely always had a piece before it got fully cold but I doubt that I ever ate it hot (pineapple would likely burn the roof of your mouth).
I don’t remember, as mother indicated, that she baked it in a skillet and that got me wondering about the history of this cake. Upside down cake history goes back to when cakes were cooked in cast iron skillets. The oldest printed recipe for the pineapple upside down cake is dated from 1925 after canned pineapples became popular. (1, 2) So, I decided to make this recipe and bake the cake in an iron skillet. I’m not sure whether the cake was any more delicious because of the iron skillet but it certainly helped make the caramelized crunchy edges, which are the very best part of the cake in my opinion.
Happy birthday to my brother whose birthday was also this week.
- “The History of Pineapple Upside Down Cake.” The Kitchen Project. Stephen Block, n.d. Web. 11 Jan. 2014. <http://kitchenproject.com/history/PineappleUpsideDownCake/index.htm>.
- “Keepsake Cakes.” The Many Sides of Upside-Down Cake. Therese, n.d. Web. 11 Jan. 2014. <http://keepcakes.com/article2.html>.