Saturday, July 17, 2010

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

My cookbook is starting to look like my mom's; recipes entitled "Lorna's Sugar Cookies", "Luscious Lenore's Lovely Ginger Cookies", and "Adam's Mom's Butterscotch Square" abound. My favourite from my mom's tattered old book was "Carole Dowdall's Pink Dessert". I can't say I have made it, or want to, but to me it is such a reflection of a time when adding Jell-o, Miracle Whip, maraschino cherries, and pistachio pudding to all salads and desserts was the norm.

Today I peeked through my cookbook for a quick recipe; the people who sold us our house were passing through the area and wanted to pop in. I always like to have something just-baked when guests addition to the lovely, welcoming aroma that fills the kitchen, I think it's rather homey to serve something lovely with tea.

I came across this recipe for my grandma's Pineapple Upside-Down Cake; the first time I baked it was when I was in early labour with the baby-who-would-be-Jude...I remember calling my grandma for the recipe between those early, sporadic contractions!

Stephanie's Grandma's Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 can pineapple rings, or one pineapple, peeled, cored, and sliced into rings.

Start by melting the butter in an 8 inch round pan; sprinkle with brown sugar, and line with pineapple rings. You may put maraschino cherries into the centres for a nice decorative touch; I try to avoid foods that have so many preservatives, archaeologists will study them in 4000 years...but it's up to you!

Sift together:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder

In a separate bowl, beat together:
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp. pineapple juice (if using a fresh one, squeeze the extra bits through a sieve or just use orange juice!)

In yet another bowl, beat
2 egg whites (until stiff peaks form)

Then add 1/2 cup sugar to the whites.

GENTLY fold yolk mixture and flour mixture alternately into the whites mixture. Pour over pineapple in cake pan. Bake at 350 degree F for 35-40 minutes.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then turn onto cake platter ~ serve with whipped cream!

The topping is a delicious gooey mess of butter, brown sugar, and pineapple!

I had a bit of a tear in my eye as I baked, as when my Grandma gave me the recipe 5 years ago, she was still living in her own home, with her own cookbook. She told me this story:

When she got married, my grandma didn't know a thing about cooking. My grandpa was in love with her, and very patient and indulgent, so he didn't mind testing out her first attempts. In their early marriage, grandma would make two desserts when company was coming, just in case one didn't turn out!

One evening, when Grandpa was bringing a friend home (a man I would later meet; they were lifelong friends), she made this cake, and wrapped it in waxed paper to set in the snowbank to cool (as they had no fridge). When she went to fetch it, she found that a dog had made off with it!

Upon hearing this, Grandpa turned to his friend without missing a beat, and quipped, "That explains the big dog we saw lying dead in the ditch a ways back!"

Recipes that are handed down carry so much more than food ingredients with them. I always think that this recipe also carries the ingredients of a good marriage: honesty, patience, perseverance, optimism, and especially a good sense of humour.

My Grandma is now almost 92; she's lived without Grandpa for the past 21 years, and moved into a retirement home 2 years ago. All of her meals are now cooked for her, after about 70 years of feeding her husband, four children, and many grandchildren (all her practice paid off, and we enjoyed many wonderful meals together).

The other night, when Grandma was having dinner at my parents' house, she asked for the recipe for the meal my mom had made. When mom and dad reminded her that she doesn't have to cook anymore, it took a moment before she said, "Oh, that's right...I forgot".

Well, Grandma, I won't forget this story. It is now part of our family history. I have her story written with the recipe in my cookbook, along with "*May 14, 2005: got this recipe from Grandma - early labour activity as we waited for the arrival of our first babe!"

I encourage you to collect the recipes that accompany your family history, and write down the stories that go with them. You just might find the ingredients for a happy life.

P.S. Don't forget to enter my awesome giveaway!


  1. Love pineapple so this recipe will definitely get made soon. Thanks for sharing your grandma's story. Food is what connects us to other people and what keeps our memory of moments we treasured with people so sharp and delicious. Thanks :)

  2. What a wonderful, touching post. I agree that food and recipes can be such a meaningful part of the history of a family. I think I'll try that pineapple upside down cake recipe. It's something that I've never made before, and I like trying new things. :)

  3. Great post!!!! So true....all of these stories just get forgotten and lost. I like to write down notes in my cookbooks after I try a recipe. The date it was made, what it was like, etc. This was a joy to read.

  4. I am, of course, tearfully trying to think of how to comment. This was a loving and honourable post, Stephanie. Maybe someone could show Grandma sometime?
    Thank you for sharing that recipe. I will make it soon.
    (and, like Julie, I always write down the date, the reason and for whom a recipe was made the first time- and what the results were..Great minds think alike!)

  5. really good post...brought tears to my eyes and now i have your grandma's cake cooking in my oven as i type...thank you so much for the reminder to hold on to things like this...:)


  6. My mom used to cook the most amazing pineapple upside down cake. I have baked it with little success. I just might try this one. I love baking!

    I am thoroughly impressed that you baked this while in labour. As if you weren't a supermom already! ;o) I am pretty sure the only thing I did while I was in labour was take the longest walk in the park of my entire life. Tee hee...


  7. What a lovely blog post:) Your Grandma's recipe looks wonderful. You are so right, having recipes with a history is so much more special. I am going to start to write down the story for all my recipes, thank you so much:)
    Take care

  8. lovely lovely post, so wonderful x

  9. What a lovely story. My Dad was our cook and baker and that skill came from my Grandma. I tried making his Blueberry Cheesecake dessert this week and it was awful. I messed up the crust and I cried. It's good that your Grandma was still around for you to use the recipe and make it work so you'd have answers.

    My recipe came from an email from Dad that I printed. Sometimes I pull it out just so I can see the final words "Love, Dad"

  10. Thank for sharing this great recipe with us. I have tried it last night and I must say that it is very delicious! My kid loved it too. Not a crumb left on our plates. It went really well with a hot cup of coffee made from my coffee maker at home. Kudos!


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