We had some cool rainy weather last week and I was inspired to bring some color into the house. The last of spring blooms we picked from the garden helped bring some much needed cheer and the over-ripening pineapples I bought from the market on special were calling to me. Pineapple upside down cake was my grandfather Bing's favorite cake. The version I had a child was made with canned pineapple and maraschino cherries. Not a fan of commercially canned foods (you know, devoid of any nutrients and such), I wanted to try a whole grain vegan version with fresh fruits. Red raspberries do the trick quite nicely for that pop of bright red color. Letting the pineapple fully ripen-you will smell it's intoxicating aroma-allows for a better flavored cake.
For the cake batter, I thought a spice cake would merry well with the tropical notes of the fruit. The batter recipe is also the base for my Apple Spice Cake recipe featured here. I used whole wheat pastry flour which provides a hearty crumb and works well with the spices, but if you want a lighter crumb, unbleached all-purpose flour will do the trick. A wide springform pan helps with the cake removal and allows for more pineapple surface area. Thick slices of pineapple mean a longer baking time at a slightly higher heat than the apple cake. The warming notes of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and clove were welcome on this unseasonably cold day for April.
makes one 10" cake
Equipment: 10" springform pan
1 whole ripe pineapple
¼ Cup real maple syrup
1½ Cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1¼ teaspoons baking powder (non-aluminum)
1¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (look for sweet cinnamon if you can find it)
½ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons flax meal
½ Cup + 2 Tablespoons unsweetened plain soymilk
1 Cup real maple syrup (preferably grade B)
1/3 Cup + 1 Tablespoon canola oil
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean or 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon vegan shortening for greasing pan
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack placed in the middle. Line bottom of springform pan with aluminum foil so that it overhangs the removable bottom to create a tight seal. Once springform pan is put together press foil up the sides of the outside of pan. Grease the foiled bottom and insides with vegan shortening.
Peel, slice and core pineapple to approximately 1/2” thick round slices. Arrange pineapple rounds on the bottom of the pan into a mosaic. I fit 4 rounds and cut smaller pieces to fill in the rest of space. Fit a few of raspberries into the center hole of each round. Drizzle ¼ Cup maple syrup over fruit.
In a medium sized mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves.
In a large measuring cup or medium bowl whisk flax meal and soymilk together until frothy (about 1 minute). Whisk in maple syrup and oil and vanilla bean seeds until mixture is evenly incorporated.
Add wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated. Pour batter over pineapples and spread evenly. Place cake pan on a baking sheet-in case of leaking and bake for 55-60 minutes or until top is golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Transfer cake to cooling rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Place a large serving plate over the cake and using potholders flip the cake pan and plate over so that the pan is inverted onto the plate. Tap the bottom of cake pan with a wooden spoon to help release the cake. Remove the springform pan side and lift up the pan bottom to reveal the pineapple-topped cake.
Best served at room temperature. Top with vanilla coconut milk ice cream to make it extra special.