The pineapple upside-down cake has long held its standing as the epitome of a retro dessert in the States. Not only is it insanely easy to make, it never ceases to please or amaze people when you take it to soirees. Though, as a whole, it’s generally thought of as being the cake of the fifties and sixties, it actually came to be and immediately had dedicated following in the twenties and the thirties.
And isn’t that the perfect segue way into my continual obsession with one of the most iconic celebrities of that era?
F. Scott Fitzgerald!
This Side of Paradise was incredible (I actually finished it a long time ago, so I apologize for it being such a long time since I discussed it last). As much as I love The Great Gatsby, this one rivals it to extremes.
Fitzgerald’s first novel that launched him into the spotlight as one of the novelists of the decade, Paradise, was written under the circumstances that seem to always produce enduring novels–solitude, a broken heart, and mental distress. For the past two years, Miss Zelda Sayre had been the object of his affections, but a series of tumultulous events had lead to Zelda breaking off their engagement. Scott fell to pieces and displayed his distress by going on a drinking spree. Finally, he abstained from alcohol and holed up in his parents’ house to write This Side of Paradise.
Amory Blaine is a characterization of Fitzgerald himself, and the novel’s story is an almost direct translation of everything Scott had gone up against up until that point. Mosignor Darcy, Beatrice, Tom D’Invilliers, Isabelle, and Rosalind are all characterizations of influential people he had met in his own life. The fact that Fitzgerald drew heavily from his own experiences coupled with the manner in which the whole novel was written (beautifully original) gives the novel an incredibly lasting quality.
I would love to keep going on about the book and analyze all its little nuances with all of you, but you really need to go and read it for yourself. To close, however, here is one of my (many) favorite quotes from the book.
“Why don’t you tell me that ‘if the girl had been worth having she’d have waited for you’? No, sir, the girl really worth having won’t wait for anybody.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise
PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. Nobody in my house likes maraschino cherries, so I’ve opted to leave them out. If you enjoy them, though, feel free to add a few! Also, the cake is incredibly tender, so I cut up my pineapple slices so they don’t tear up the cake as you try to slice it. You can buy pineapple chunks if you prefer, but I’m picky so I just cut my own.
- 225 gram / 8 ounce can pineapple slices, juice reserved
- 30 grams / 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 85 grams / 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 190 grams / 1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 150 grams / 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 175 milliliters / 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1 egg
- 50 grams / 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with baking rack in the center. In a square 8 x 8 baking pan, put in 30 grams of butter. Pop into the oven and allow to melt. Drain the pineapple slices and reserve their juice. Cut the pineapple slices into eighths and set aside. By this time, the butter should be melted so pull it out. Dump in the brown sugar and add in a tablespoon of the reserved pineapple juices. Mix together with a fork and spread out evenly on the bottom of the pan. Layer the pineapple slices evenly and set aside.
In a medium bowl, dump in the flour, sugar, kosher salt, baking powder, milk, egg, butter, and vanilla extract. Starting on low, mix the ingredients until somewhat combined. Then increase to high speed and beat for one minute.
Spoon the cake batter over the pineapple in the bottom of the pan. Gently smooth out the batter and pop it into the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a serving dish and serve warm.