Monday, June 3, 2013

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Miss Pym's birthday felt like a good excuse for baking a cake, so reader - I did (and the title makes it clear what sort). Something I've noticed in Pym novels is a definite pre-occupation with food; meals being planned, tea, lunch, dinner, and supper all being consumed, and cakes frequently considered. It's one of the things I like about Pym because it's very much how I think about day to day life - what needs to be bought and how it can be use to make the most of money and time. What will do for me, what can be shared, what small treats and luxuries will be stowed away... And like Mildred in 'Excellent Women' it's not unusual to find cookbooks by my bed. I'm honestly not obsessed by food, but I like cooking and breakfast is generally

the first thing I think about in the morning. 

Deciding on a suitable cake to mark a Barbara Pym birthday, and also the 60th anniversary of the Queens coronation is just the sort of thing I like to do over Sunday breakfast, I opted for a pineapple upside down cake because I had a tin of pineapple which has been begging to be used for a while, thought it had a suitably retro feel (I don't know, but imagine it would have been pleasingly exotic post rationing, also it reminds me of school dinners in a good way), and just as significant it meant I could use one of my favourite pans.

Lindsey Bareham's 'The Trifle Bowl and Other Tales' really made me think about how kitchen toys shape how I cook and this is a toy I love. It's a Le Creuset tarte tatin pan which the Scottish one gave me (he knew
I'd love it) for Christmas, I have a respectable collection of the stuff now (big enough to make me dread the day I might move out of this flat and will have to lug it all downstairs) with a few favourite bits - this pan is near the top of the list of favourites. It just works really well, everything turns out of it beautifully and it's fun to use - one of those things that you don't imagine needing until you have one.

The cake itself is okay, it's a Nigella recipe, and for Nigella doesn't have a huge amount of butter or sugar, I got rid of the cherries and used a soft brown sugar with vanilla instead. It's ridiculously light and fluffy which means you want to eat a pile of it. and it does have a nice old fashioned feel to it. What it isn't is the golden slab of rich loveliness that I remember from school, though that would be fixed by using more of everything and pouring custard over it. 


  1. Replies
    1. Have you a recipe you're willing to share? I was wondering if star anise instead of cherries would be pretty and a good flavour (though obviously they would need to be removed before eating...

  2. That looks a lovely cake. I do always enjoy Nigella recipes!

    1. I think she's brilliant, always reliable and very much the sort of baking (especially the baking) I like.

  3. I've used that recipe too, but with brown sugar substituted too - it seems much more authentic that way. I kept the fake cherries (I love them!). I read somewhere that the Queen received umpteen dozen tins of canned pineapple (cans of tinned pineapple? - I'm code-switching here - can't remember which one is more Brit-speak!) for her wedding from the Australian government, which I imagine might have been welcome during rationing or maybe not if you're the Queen!

  4. I used to love glacé cherries, but find them to sweet now in many things (though I wouldn't say no to a slice of cherry and walnut cake). I did think some decorative element was missing from the cake though. I'm not sure which version of tinned/canned pineapple sounds most British. I think both are fairly interchangeable - it's going to bother me all day as I think about it though ;). As for the Queen, I imagine the pineapple was most welcome as British food in the 40's must have been fairly monotonous even when you had access to the better end of it.