My sister gets on my case for making my own birthday cake. From my point of view, birthdays are for getting exactly what you want, done just how you want it, so you can share the delight with friends. Pineapple contains healthy enzymes that wake up your taste buds and banish the heavy clouds of winter. Here’s my take on it:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and get out your lasagna pan, about 9” x 13”. Grab a box of your favorite yellow cake mix. Drain a 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple. Open a 16 oz. can of apricot halves. Save the juices. You’ll also want a jar of maraschino cherries for decoration.
Combine 2/3 c. packed brown sugar with ¼ c. melted butter or margarine in your baking pan. Reserve ½ c. drained pineapple for the cake batter and put the rest in the baking pan. Put half a maraschino cherry into the cavity of each apricot half and place flat side down in the pan.
Make the cake batter as directed on the box except use fruit juices instead of the water, using slightly less liquid to compensate for the ½ c. of drained pineapple and a tsp. of freshly-grated lemon zest that you will fold in after you have mixed up the batter. Carefully pour the batter over the topping layer. Make sure you cover all the apricot halves. Pop the pan into the hot oven, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake rest for a few minutes and make sure it is pulling away from the sides of the pan.
Now for the dramatic part: Either use a heatproof platter or a tray lined with aluminum foil to protect it from the hot cake. Place it over the baking pan, and, grabbing it firmly, flip the whole thing over. The trick here is to pick a plate or tray that is only slightly larger than the baking pan. That way you can get a good grip on both using potholders. You’ll feel the cake slip out of the pan. Let it rest a couple of minutes, and then rap the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to make sure the topping has settled onto the cake. Lift the pan off and see how you did. You can patch any goofs easily with a small butter knife. Serve the cake warm with whipped cream, if you wish.
Upside-Down cakes can be made with plums, apples, peaches, cherries, raspberries, and even rhubarb. Some fruits are best cooked first, and some can be made with oatmeal cake and baked in the microwave. However you make it, an upside-down cake is never boring!