The recent purchase of a fresh pineapple inspired a flurry of dish ideas. Soon after the ideas started to fly, a favorite was recommended by Jeffrey: pineapple upside-down cake. Why the heck not?! I think the last, and only, one of these I made was in home economics class in seventh grade. I’m thinking we very likely used a box cake mix, canned pineapple, and it definitely did not include rum. For Jeffrey, this cake harkens back to the comforts of childhood so we decided to seal the deal and revisit this odd little cake topped with one of my favorite fruits.
After searching for some recipes, I came upon a good looking recipe for pineapple upside down cake which gets baked in a cast iron skillet. Oh how we love the skillets at our house. There will be more about skillets later when I delve into cookies for all of you readers. Actually, for all I know there could be just one reader. However, I am optimistic for all you potential-non-readers out there that you know what’s good for you and you’ll stay tuned for my mouthwatering treatises on cookies and skillets. Don’t worry, I don’t mean you, since you are reading this.
I digress back to this recipe. Now, the two things that caught my eye on this particular iteration: the usage of rum and cardamom. How flavorful does that all sound? Plus, I have been just looking for a reason to bust out that cardamom. In the three years I’ve had it in the cupboard, I’ve only used it once, maybe twice. Immediately upon choosing this recipe, I pictured my dear friend J quizzically looking at me in the Penzey’s store with an inquisition; “what do you need cardamom pods for?” Mind you, she doesn’t really care what spices I choose, but her wonderment was obvious. And now you have it. Pineapple cake is what it’s for. Yum.
Ok, so I’m Miss Smarty Pants prepared with exotic spices for making uniquely wonderful cake, right? Yeah, not so much…because now I’m going to explain in detail that I believe I have the wrong kind of cardamom pods for baking sweet treats. I quickly notice the very strong aromatic quality of my fancy green pods as I start popping them open and grinding them down with my mortar and pestle. I also note that the innards of the pods look somewhat like bird turds! At this point, I had to regroup on my brainiac decision to use this “fancy” cardamom business. I begin to think I’m not going to be using the recommended 2-3 teaspoons on this. Not only would my arm surely break off from all this manual labor, but the overwhelming flavor of multiple teaspoons of this stuff would stifle the rest of the cake. I scan the spice jar details…this is apparently for Turkish cuisine, no mention of baking. I rapidly commit to my decision to only use the one teaspoon.
[Note to readers: I believe there is a white ground variety of cardamom that is used in baked goods. If you follow this recipe, I suggest this in the recommended dosage of 2 tsp….and yes, spices can be considered a dosage, especially cardamom.]
So I admitted my cardamom-folly but don’t think for a minute that my cake was wrecked. [Which reminds me of one of my favorite funny blogs] Cardamom definitely adds a certain je ne seis quois to the overall yumminess of this cake and it simply wouldn’t be the same without it. The problem with my type of cardamom is that it’s very potent and I was not able to grind it down to the appropriate powdery level as would be desired in this type of recipe. Thus, I had some visible carda-chunks in my cake. Yet it was delicious, chunks or no, so I’m over it. See for yourself how tasty it must have been in the pic below.
Serve this up with some whipped cream or rum sauce for a bonus prize. I’d like to thank my sous chef, Jeffrey (in this case the tables have turned) for perfectly slicing the pineapple. We successfully remade an oldy-but-goody with a unique flavor slant…and learned a little spice lesson along the way!