Pineapple Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake | Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

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Deeply caramelized fruit meets a tender, moist crumb
Milk Street Bowtie Pineapple Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake

Pineapple Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake

Appears in March-April 2020

1¼ hours Plus cooling

Pineapple Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake

Free

Briana Holt, the owner of Tandem Bakery in Portland, Maine, makes a rich, sturdy buttermilk cake with cornmeal for texture and flavor, as well as ricotta cheese to keep the crumb tender and moist. We adapted her winning formula and paired the cake with fresh fruit to update the classic all-American pineapple upside-down cake. To avoid a soggy layer where cake and fruit meet—a common problem with upside-down cakes—we first cook the pineapple to remove excess moisture, and we make sure the fruit is hot when the batter is poured on top so it begins to bake upon contact. To get the timing right, begin mixing the batter after placing the pan with the pineapple in the oven. This gives you 5 to 10 minutes to finish the batter; if it’s ready sooner, it can wait a few minutes. A nonstick cake pan works best because the dark finish speeds the bake time; if your pan is not nonstick, increase the oven temperature to 350°F and give the cake an extra 5 minutes or so to finish baking.

12

Servings

Tip

Don’t use canned pineapple, as the fruit is thickly sliced and may not fully cook through. Its flavor also is dull and “cooked” compared to fresh. For convenience, however, you can use store-bought peeled and cored fresh pineapple sold in the produce section of the supermarket. Don’t use part-skim ricotta cheese; the cakes needs the richness of whole-milk ricotta.

1¼ hours

Plus cooling

162 grams (1¼ cups) all-purpose flour
Table salt
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground allspice
45 grams (5 tablespoons) fine yellow cornmeal
¾ cup buttermilk
140 grams (½ cup) whole-milk ricotta cheese
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces, room temperature, divided
3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
8 ¼-inch-thick fresh pineapple rings (about 1 pound), cut into quarters
214 grams (1 cup) white sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
Ingredients
  • 162

    grams (1¼ cups) all-purpose flour

  • Table salt

  • ¾

    teaspoon baking powder

  • ½

    teaspoon baking soda

  • ½

    teaspoon ground allspice

  • 45

    grams (5 tablespoons) fine yellow cornmeal

  • ¾

    cup buttermilk

  • 140

    grams (½ cup) whole-milk ricotta cheese

  • 8

    tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces, room temperature, divided

  • 3

    tablespoons packed dark brown sugar

  • 8

    ¼-inch-thick fresh pineapple rings (about 1 pound), cut into quarters

  • 214

    grams (1 cup) white sugar

  • 2

    large eggs, room temperature

Directions
  1. 01
    Heat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the middle position. Mist a 9-by-2-inch round nonstick cake pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ½ teaspoon of the salt, the baking powder, baking soda and allspice. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, buttermilk and ricotta.
  2. 02
    In a nonstick 12-inch skillet over medium-high, combine 2 tablespoons of the butter, the brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until bubbling. Add the pineapple and cook, stirring often, until softened and caramelized and the liquid has nearly evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes.
    See Demo
    pineapple-upside-down-cornmeal-cake-step-2
  3. 03
    Transfer the pineapple and butter mixture to the prepared cake pan, distributing the fruit in a single layer. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you prepare the batter.
    See Demo
    pineapple-upside-down-cornmeal-cake-step-3
  4. 04
    In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the remaining 6 tablespoons butter and the white sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce to medium and add the eggs one at at time, scraping the bowl with a spatula between additions, then beat until well combined, about 1 minute. With the mixer on low, add the cornmeal-buttermilk mixture, then beat until just combined, about 30 seconds; the mixture will look curdled. Scrape down the bowl.
    See Demo
    pineapple-upside-down-cornmeal-cake-step-4
  5. 05
    With the mixer running on low, add the dry ingredients and mix just until the batter is evenly moistened, about 20 seconds; the batter will be thick. Using the spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and give the batter a few folds to ensure no pockets of flour remain.
  6. 06
    Remove the cake pan from the oven (close the oven door) and carefully scrape the batter onto the hot pineapple, then spread in an even layer and smooth the surface with the spatula. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted at the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 to minutes.
    See Demo
    pineapple-upside-down-cornmeal-cake-step-6
  7. 07
    Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a paring knife around the pan to loosen the cake, then invert it onto a serving platter. Cool to room temperature.
    See Demo
    pineapple-upside-down-cornmeal-cake-step-7
Tip: Don’t use canned pineapple, as the fruit is thickly sliced and may not fully cook through. Its flavor also is dull and “cooked” compared to fresh. For convenience, however, you can use store-bought peeled and cored fresh pineapple sold in the produce section of the supermarket. Don’t use part-skim ricotta cheese; the cakes needs the richness of whole-milk ricotta.
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Pineapple Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake

Get Ready to Cook

12

Servings

1¼ hours

Plus cooling

Tip

Don’t use canned pineapple, as the fruit is thickly sliced and may not fully cook through. Its flavor also is dull and “cooked” compared to fresh. For convenience, however, you can use store-bought peeled and cored fresh pineapple sold in the produce section of the supermarket. Don’t use part-skim ricotta cheese; the cakes needs the richness of whole-milk ricotta.

Ingredients
  • 162

    grams (1¼ cups) all-purpose flour

  • Table salt

  • ¾

    teaspoon baking powder

  • ½

    teaspoon baking soda

  • ½

    teaspoon ground allspice

  • 45

    grams (5 tablespoons) fine yellow cornmeal

  • ¾

    cup buttermilk

  • 140

    grams (½ cup) whole-milk ricotta cheese

  • 8

    tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces, room temperature, divided

  • 3

    tablespoons packed dark brown sugar

  • 8

    ¼-inch-thick fresh pineapple rings (about 1 pound), cut into quarters

  • 214

    grams (1 cup) white sugar

  • 2

    large eggs, room temperature

Step 1 of 7

Combine Ingredients

162
grams (1¼ cups) all-purpose flour
½
teaspoon table salt
¾
teaspoon baking powder
½
teaspoon baking soda
½
teaspoon ground allspice
45
grams (5 tablespoons) fine yellow cornmeal
¾
cup buttermilk
140
grams (½ cup) whole-milk ricotta cheese

Heat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the middle position. Mist a 9-by-2-inch round nonstick cake pan with cooking spray.


In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ½ teaspoon of the salt, the baking powder, baking soda and allspice. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, buttermilk and ricotta.

Step 2 of 7

Cook Pineapple

2
tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces, room temperature
Pinch
table salt
8
¼-inch-thick fresh pineapple rings (about 1 pound), cut into quarters

In a nonstick 12-inch skillet over medium-high, combine 2 tablespoons of the butter, the brown sugar and a pinch of salt.


Cook, stirring occasionally, until bubbling. Add the pineapple and cook, stirring often, until softened and caramelized and the liquid has nearly evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes.

Step 3 of 7

Bake Pineapple

Transfer the pineapple and butter mixture to the prepared cake pan, distributing the fruit in a single layer. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you prepare the batter.

Step 4 of 7

Mix Cake Batter

6
tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces, room temperature
214
grams (1 cup) white sugar
2
large eggs, room temperature

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the remaining 6 tablespoons butter and the white sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.


Reduce to medium and add the eggs one at at time, scraping the bowl with a spatula between additions, then beat until well combined, about 1 minute.


With the mixer on low, add the cornmeal-buttermilk mixture, then beat until just combined, about 30 seconds; the mixture will look curdled. Scrape down the bowl.

Step 5 of 7

Add Dry Ingredients

With the mixer running on low, add the dry ingredients and mix just until the batter is evenly moistened, about 20 seconds; the batter will be thick. Using the spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and give the batter a few folds to ensure no pockets of flour remain.

Step 6 of 7

Bake Cake

Remove the cake pan from the oven (close the oven door) and carefully scrape the batter onto the hot pineapple, then spread in an even layer and smooth the surface with the spatula.


Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted at the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 to minutes.

Step 7 of 7

Cool and Serve

Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a paring knife around the pan to loosen the cake, then invert it onto a serving platter. Cool to room temperature.

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