Pineapple Upside Down Cake by Alton Brown

This is my favorite cake (and husband’s favorite cake) from my favorite baking book – Alton Brown’s I’m just here for more food. I’ve made it for countless dinners and potlucks over the last 15 years- it is always a hit. Two things to remember- a cast iron pan is essential as is the pineappe in heavy syrup. Fresh pineapple and pineapple in juice will work in a pinch but the cake won’t be glorious. Cast iron pans are cheap and last for ever and are totally worth it. For the perfect toffee bottom and the delicious sponge on top- you need the cast iron pan and the pineapple in syrup

Preheat oven to 350F. Melt 1 stick of butter (8 tbsp) in a 10 inch cast iron pan and 1 cup of dark brown sugar together. It melts in about 5 minutes. Don’t burn this. Then scatter the pineapple pieces from 1 can of pineapple chunks in heavy syrup on top. Scatter 1/4 cups of chopped walnuts on top too along with 3 tbsp of the pineapple juice from the can. If you like- add a few maraschino cherries here and there. I skip those. This is the “top” of your upside down cake. Try to get the pineapple and the nuts in one layer so they will all get candied.

Wet ingredients: Whisk 3 eggs, 5 tbsp of pineapple juice and 1 cup of white granulated sugar till the sugar dissoves. Dry ingregients: Mix 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 tsp of baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt

Mix the wet and dry together till they just come together- an occasional lump is fine. Dump batter into the cast iron pan. The butter will float to the top. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean and the internal temp should be 210F.

I’m all for instant gratification but this cake needs about 10 minutes for the hot sugar and butter to cool down. Invert on a cake platter and eat vast quantities of it with joy.

Mixed peel or candied orange and lime

The Great British Bake Off will fill your heads with visions of Chelsea buns and Hot cross buns and candied citrus. This is a great recipe. I’ve made this twice and I’m yet to make any chelsea buns but as an after dinner snack, mixed peel is delicious with some dark chocolate.

As usual- I went with the Alton Brown recipe. He asks you to peel the zest using a peeler. Other recipes use the whole peel – pith and all and have to boil the peel multiple times.

Step 1- When anyone at home eats an orange or uses a lime/lemon- peel the zest into long strips and store it in a ziplock bag in the freezer till you have enough. Make sure the family cooperates, threaten them with loss of all citrus fruit if they don’t

Step 2: Once you have the zest of 4-6 oranges and 1-3 lime/lemons- put them in a pan with 3 cups of water. Boil for 15 minutes and strain

Step 3: Next comes the candy making. Add enough water to cover the peels and add the same amount of sugar by volume and simmer away for an hour or two. Measure the temperature every 5 minutes or so and when it starts climbing over 212F- use a heat proof glove (sugar splatter will burn your skin right off) and measure the temperature every few minutes till it hits 250F (around hard ball stage)

Step4: Pour over a wire rack and seperate and dry for 24-48 hours. The candied peel is ready when it makes a shattering sound as you drop it (Mary Berry tests it like that). The syrup is delicious too in cocktails.