I have been telling people that I have given up on blogging—because almost nobody reads this blog—and started to contribute my writing efforts to Wikipedia, where what I can do is occasionally useful. And that IS more or less what I have been doing this year. However, tonight, with relatively little effort, I produced from the same batch, one very beautiful (I daresay, perfect) gluten-free pineapple upside-down cake (for dinner tomorrow) and six gluten-free blueberry muffins (for breakfast tomorrow). And I just have to tell you how I did that, and of course brag just a little. I came up eager to tell Stephen that I had missed my calling (as a chef), but he was already snoozing. So . . . finally, ‘nother blog entry.
There are a couple of tricks to this recipe. One of the tricks is to be found in Bob’s Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake Mix. I love this stuff, and several times have made cakes and muffins by adding various fruits and spices to it. I just keep a bag of it in the pantry, and whenever I get a request for this or that (even chocolate-chip muffins) I don’t need another trip to the store. The recipe does make a lot, enough for two 8″ cake rounds, or 18 muffins. The other trick is to adapt a recipe that I daresay is the best pineapple upside-down cake recipe that I have encountered. Part of Stephen’s dowery when he came to live with me 25 years ago was a three volume set heavy white notebooks called McCall’s Cooking School. This set is subtitled “Step-By-Step Directions for Fool-Proof Cooking,” so you can see it was just the thing for me. Each recipe comes on an 8 1/2″ x 11″ card that has pictures with each stage of the recipe. You can still buy it on Amazon ($50 new, $10 used). The recipe I used for the pineapple upside-down cake came from the first of three volumes, cakes section.
I borrowed the first part of the McCall’s recipe for the pineapple topping. You can see in the photo above that I used my 10″ Creuset deep frying pan. Wimps or those with painful joints beware, this sucker is HEA-VY. Probably weighs more than 10 pounds. But does it ever make beautiful upside-down cakes and buttermilk cornbread!
- Set the oven exactly between 325 and 350 degrees. (Required by gluten-free flour.)
- Open and drain a large can of pineapple (contains 10 rings)
- Melt 1/4 lb. butter on the stove top
- Add 2/3 cup of light brown sugar. Stir until smooth and remove from heat.
- Sprinkle part of 1/3 cup of medium chopped pecans over the butter mixture.
- Put one pineapple ring in the center of the pan and surround it by six other rings.
- Cut the last three rings in half (6 halves) and arrange around the outside edge of pan
- Put half of a maraschino cherry in the hole of each pineapple slice, and fill with remaining pecans.
- Set the pan aside.
Next prepare for making the muffins (this makes six) by putting paper cups in the muffin tin and setting aside. Since I made blueberry muffins, I laid out a cup with 2 or 3 blueberries for each muffin. You can see what the finished cupcakes look like.
Now you are ready to mix up the vanilla cake mix; the directions are on the package. You will need 3 eggs at room temperature, 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of oil. A trick I use if the eggs have been in the refrigerator is to put them in a small bowl or big cup and fill with hot tap water for 5 minutes.
- Break the three eggs in a large mixing bowl; beat on high for 30 seconds.
- Add the package mix, and then the oil and water.
- Beat for up to a minute, but this mix is quite gelatinous, so you may have to stop sooner.
Next you will divide the cake mix between the pineapple upside-down cake and the muffins. For the muffins, spoon a tablespoon of mix into each of six cups (enough to cover the bottom well). Drop two or three blueberries into the cup. Add another tablespoon of mix (enough to cover the berries). The cups should not be more than half full. Pour the remaining batter over the pineapple upside-down topping.
Place both the six filled muffin cups and the upside-down cake with batter into the pre-heated oven. Set the timer for 20 minutes. At the end of 20 minutes, check the muffins and remove them if they are done. (But close the door immediately, so the upside-down cake can continue baking.) They should be a very light tan, and spring back to a slight touch. 22 minutes is probably too much, unless your oven is off. Then set the timer for another 20 minutes. At the end of this time, the upside-down cake is probably done. It will be much darker, a rich tan or light brown. Remove and cool for five minutes on a rack or cutting board. Loosen the cake from the sides of the pan with a thin knife or spatula. At the end of the cooling period, cover with a large plate, and flip. (This is quite tricky, but you can do it. I have only had one flipping failure in my entire life.) The cake will fall onto the plate after just a few seconds. If some of the topping or a ring sticks, patch it up. But mine was perfect.
The McCall’s recipe says to serve the upside-down cake warm, but I can tell you it is just as delicious in the morning as coffee cake. The muffins for some reason do not keep well if they are covered. Best to just leave them sitting out and eat them up in a day or two. Gluten-free does not have to be a sentence to rock-hard rice biscuits. You will taste a slight difference, but it will be a delicious one. Happy eating.