kruizing with kikukat

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Yesterday's post was limited (due to time) to the slideshow of Uncle John's "27th" birthday party. I was told that Korean tradition is to reverse the digits of the guest of honor when they reach a certain age. Only time will tell if I'm lucky enough to have my birthday candle digits reversed.

There was a ton of food yesterday, with Uncle Hanok, Aunty Suyogi, and Uncle Hal,  doing the majority of the cooking. I wonder what Aunty Suyogi would think of my Chap Chae. I will need to make it for her one of these days. It was apparent, even to my forgetful tastebuds, that her Chap Chae was not as sweet as mine.

My contribution to the party was a pineapple upside down cake that almost didn't exist. Knowing Koreans aren't big on dessert, I knew I needed to bring some kind of dessert. After 15 minutes of pondering, I narrowed it down to chocolate cream cheese cupcakes or madeleines. Both are good eaten the day its made (unlike most cakes), and I knew I had ingredients on hand.

I was leaning towards the chocolate cream cheese cupcakes, which some people call black bottom cupcakes. The version I make uses devils food cake mix, cream cheese and some chocolate chips. Aaaaah, thats what I didn't consider . . . I only had butterscotch chips in the pantry. The Help volunteered to get some, but I declined the offer. I actually had just made devil's food cupcakes for D1 to take to a sleepover at a friend's house less than a week ago.

Before I could get off my butt to get down the madeleine molds, I caught sight of a lone can of pineapple rings in the pantry. Thats when it hit me! Pineapple upside down cake would be the dessert I would carry to the party.  Uncle John loves pineapple upside down cake!  Well, Uncle John loves dessert.

With the exception of chiffon/sponge cakes, I seldom make any cake from scratch. My cake mix brand of choice is Duncan Hines, the only one sold in Hilo WITHOUT pudding in the cake mix. As luck would have it, I had a box of Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix in my pantry as well.

Things seemed to be going well, until I got further in the recipe. . .1 box of instant vanilla pudding. By this time, there was no turning back, as I had opened up the cake mix, drained the pineapples & cherries, and melted the butter. I had a choice of pistachio, chocolate, or lemon instant pudding. I chose lemon for obvious reasons (if I didn't say anything, maybe nobody would know since the cake would still look "normal".

The cake baked up as normal with a warm golden brown caramel color. There would be no snitching a piece to sample, as the only option was to take the cake whole/uncut to the party. I had to leave the cake in the oven 5 minutes longer than usual because I bought a new cake pan which is slightly shorter than 13" on the long end (its by Nordic Ware and comes with a cover . . . got it at WalMart).
Upon arrival at Uncle John's party, the cake was met with "oohs" and "aahs". UL remarked, "you're stealing your aunty's thunder", as AE is known for a light flavorless colorless pineapple upside down cake, often made with crushed pineapple and lacking cherries. To her credit, she tries to create a healthier dessert (substituting applesauce for the vegetable oil) and boldly sacrifices flavor for uhhh, yeahh.  Anyway, back to my cake story. 

After we sang Happy Birthday to Uncle John, dessert was served. Mmmmmm. Nobody noticed the off-taste with the lemon pudding. In fact, everyone kept saying it was delicious (like they would've actually told me it tasted like shit). The Help, who is likely the most honest when it comes to food, said it was as good as or better than the version made with vanilla pudding. The Reans surprised me by eating several pieces, the comment du jour being, "dis good. Not so sweet" (you gotta do your own Rean accent). Aunty Sunny even asked if I would make this cake for Denise's birthday.

In terms of consumption, the Hamano uncles don't disappoint. Uncle John ate 3 pieces of cake. I think Uncle James ate the same amount! Is Uncle John losing his touch as the dessert king? When I made Crystal Coffee Cake in May, I'm sure Uncle James ate more than Uncle John.  This is amazing, considering Uncle John's history of sugar intake.  Uncle John once put away 16 roasted marshmallows after having two servings of both dinner and dessert.

The baking time provided for the recipe is if you are using a conventional 9 x 13" pan. If you are like me and bought the heavy Nordic Ware one with the nice raised plastic cover, add 5 minutes to the upper end of the cooking time.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 can (20 oz) pineapple rings, drained
     10 maraschino cherries, drained
     1 block butter
     1 c brown sugar, packed
     1 box (18.25 oz) yellow cake mix* (no pudding in the mix)
     1 box instant vanilla or lemon pudding
     4 eggs
     3/4 c warm water
     3/4 c oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place butter into a 9 x 13" pan and place in preheating oven until butter is melted.  Tilt pan to grease half way up sides of pan.  Remove pan from oven and sprinkle brown sugar over butter.  Decoratively place pineapple and cherries over brown sugar without pressing down.  In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pudding.  Add eggs, warm water, and oil.  Beat until smooth.  Pour over pineapple and cherries.  Bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.  Invert onto a heat-proof serving tray as soon as cake is removed from oven.

*If you are using the new Duncan Hines cake mix (smaller quantity), add 6 tbsp flour to cake mix.

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