Pineapple Upside Down Cake

>> Friday, December 9, 2011

It's time.

Well for a handful of things...

For one, it's time for me to be trite...and say once again, "I can't believe it's almost Christmas!" Such over-used phrase...but hey, who can help it when displays of nativity scenes and the signature red Starbucks cups are walking the streets. And the can't-help-but-hum-along music of Christmas is playing everywhere - from the grocery stores to radio stations.

What I look forward to this season are the annual reminders it gives. It's time to be thankful for all the blessings given us during the year (which are so often taken for granted), to write (and hopefully receive) Christmas cards with messages of hope and joy, and to reflect back on the year.

These familiar reminders are also reminders of things essential:

It's time to be reminded of God's love and grace. Let's not forget the real message of Christmas: Because He loves us, God has come to redeem us—to bring life and to expel the darkness of our hearts and from our world. He sent His son Jesus, our Savior, into our world, who felt our pain and became acquainted with our sorrows, suffered and died for our sins.

It is also time for the last post of the year! Since my last post, I've arrived in Taiwan where I will be spending the time with people I love as well as people I've yet to meet but hope to learn to love. Over the next few weeks, I will be kitchen-less and most likely computer-less as I head down south of the country to the rural areas on a mission trip. this is the final post of 2011, I just want to say thank you for being a part of my life over the years. Thank you for subscribing and leaving me all kinds of comments and/or emails. There are no better ways to encourage me than what you've done.

I hope you have a lovely festive season ahead and that your Christmas this year is much more than the routine trimming of the tree, stringing up the lights, buying gifts and wrapping of the presents. I hope it's also filled with all things wonderful like love, hope, joy and peace regardless of what your circumstances are like.

Hey, and can I say it's about time I make an old fashioned Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. I'd never tasted one before until now. It's one of those things (along with Tarte Tartin) I wanted to make for the longest time but was waiting for the right time (mainly, when fresh pineapples are available!)

This is another recipe from Flour which I'd really enjoy both in the making and eating process :) It is with such anticipation when out from the oven comes this plain, unimpressive cake on the surface and you just pray that the flip side will be more pleasing to the eyes.

So you hold your breathe as you carefully flip...

It's a sigh of relief when you see the glistening fruit all in their rightful places and deliciously cooked.

So can I claim that this is my favourite pineapple upside-down cake when it's the only one I've had?

The rich and buttery cake topped with sweet juicy caramelised pineapples will have you reaching for more slices than your mind would allow. Just let go...the heart wants what the heart wants ;)

I was worried that the cake would be too sweet so I didn't use all the caramelised juices of the pineapple. For that reason, the bottom cake layer wasn't as soaked through with the caramelised juices but to me, it was sweet enough!

Pineapple Upside-down Cake
From Joanne Chang's Flour
  • 1 pineapple
  • 1¾ cups (350 grams) sugar
  • ½ cup (120 grams) water
  • 6 tbs (¾ stick/86 grams) softened unsalted butter, plus ½ cup (1 stick/114 grams), melted and cooled
  • 1 cup (140 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Using a serrated knife, peel, halve, and core the pineapple, then cut into ¾-inch-thick slices.  Cut the slices in half.

2. Put ¾ cup (150 grams) of the sugar in the bottom of a medium saucepan.  Add the water and gently swirl the pan to moisten the sugar; if necessary, poke your fingers around the bottom of the pan to make sure all of the sugar is moistened with water.  Place the pan over high heat and leave it undisturbed until the contents come to a rolling boil.  Then continue to boil rapidly without moving the pan until the sugar syrup starts to caramelize.  This will take 3 to 4 minutes: the sugar syrup will boil furiously; then as it thickens, it will boil more languidly; and then you will see some of the syrup start to color and darken around the edge of the pan.

3. When you see color in the pan, gently swirl the pan in a circular motion so the sugar caramelizes evenly, and then keep swirling gently until the caramel is a medium golden brown.  Turn down the heat to low and whisk in the 6 tablespoons butter; be careful, as the caramel may sputter and steam.  Carefully add the pineapple and stir until it is coated with the caramel.  Don't worry if some of the caramel hardens; it will reliquefy as it continues to cook.  Turn up the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Then turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the pineapple turns golden brown.  The pineapple will release juice and liquefy the caramel.  Using a fork, transfer the pineapple to a plate.  Continue to boil the remaining liquid on medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until thick and syrupy.

4. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Generously butter a 9-inch round cake pan.

5. Add all of the pineapple and the caramel syrup to the prepared pan, arranging the pineapple in concentric circles and covering as much of the bottom of the pan as possible.  Cut the pineapple quarters into smaller pieces to fill in any gaps, and double layer the pineapple if there is extra.

6. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks until blended, then slowly whisk in the remaining 1 cup (200 grams) sugar, the vanilla, and the ½ cup melted butter.  Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture until well combined.

7. Pour the batter evenly over the pineapple in the cake pan.  Tap the pan gently on a countertop to get rid of any air bubbles in the batter and to make sure the batter fills in any crevices in the pineapple and settles into the bottom of the pan.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and springs back when pressed in the middle with a fingertip.  Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 30 minutes, or until cool enough to handle.

Place a serving plate upside down on top of the cake pan, then holding the pan and the plate tightly together, carefully invert them.  Lift off the cake pan.  If some of the pineapple sticks to the pan, remove it and replace it in its place on top of the cake.  Let the cake cool for at least another 30 minutes, then serve warm or at room temperature.

The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
- Habakkuk 3:18

I hope to see you next year :)


Pumpkin and Feta Muffins

>> Monday, November 21, 2011

Whoa, this has been a foreign place to me lately! (And I didn't mean for it to be like that, really!)

Just need to cozy it up with a bit of sunshine in the form of...

Pumpkins. Feta. Spinach. Parmesan. Mustard seeds. Sunflower kernels. 

You still with me? I hope so.

So as we quickly approach the year end, life continues to (in short)...

* be busy and filled with decisions to make.
* teach me things like understanding and patience (and how to kill mosquitoes in the middle of the night).
* test me and my heart.
* display beauty in many shapes and forms (and also in the intangible!)

As much as I adore anything sweet (as this blog testifies), if I have a choice between a sweet or a savoury muffin, I'd pick the latter without a thought. 

And usually they (i.e. multiple savoury muffins) can completely replace a meal for me...but only if they are filled with loads of flavoursome ingredients like these Pumpkin and Feta muffins.

After I enjoyed a few of these colourful muffins (hmmmm sweet sweet pumpkins, salty feta, crunchy seeds warm from the oven...need I go on?), it suddenly occurred to me that apart from the bit of olive oil to roast the pumpkins in, I don't recall using a bit of butter or oil in the whole process at all. 

I panicked slightly. Either I read the recipe wrong. Or I have amnesia.

So I checked the recipe again. Phew I can read and memory still a-ok!

Happy that I discovered these delicious oil-free muffins. 

And thank you for visiting today. Make some muffins, grab a cup of tea and share some of your life and heart with me, won't you?

Pumpkin and Feta Muffins
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
Makes 12 muffins
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (I omitted this as I used non stick muffin pan).
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups / 9 oz / 255g cubed pumpkin or butternut squash, 1/2-inch cubes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large handful of baby spinach, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley or cilantro (I omitted this)
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds kernels
  • 3/4 cup / 1 oz / 30g freshly grated Parmesan
  • 100g / 3.5 oz / 1/2 cup cubed feta
  • 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup / 180 ml milk (I used around 2 extra tbsp on top of this)
  • 2 cups flour (I used 1 1/2 cup AP flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour)
  • 4 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 405F / 200C, with rack in the top third. Use the butter to grease a 12-hole muffin pan and set aside.

2. Sprinkle the olive oil and some salt and pepper over the squash. Toss well and turn onto a baking sheet or roasting pan. Arrange in a single layer and bake for 15 - 25 minutes or until cooked through entirely. Set aside to cool.

3. Transfer two-thirds of the squash to a large mixing bowl along with the spinach, parsley, sunflower seeds, Parmesan, two-thirds of the feta, and all of the mustard. Gently fold together. In a separate bowl beat the eggs and milk together and add to the squash mix. Sift the flour and baking powder onto the squash mix, top with the salt and a generous dose of freshly ground black pepper and fold together just until the batter comes together, be careful not to over mix.

4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, filling each hole 3/4 full, top each muffin with a bit of the remaining squash and feta (see photo up above). Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops and sides of the muffins are golden, and the muffins have set up completely. Let cool for a couple minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack. I like these muffins cooled a bit, served just warmer than room temperature.

People cry out under a load of oppression; they plead for relief from the arm of the powerful. 
But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night
- Job 35:9-10


Homemade Almond Milk + Black Sesame Cookies

>> Sunday, October 30, 2011

I realised I haven't been updating as often as I used to or would like to! But I want to say if you've been following - thank you for continuing to visit this little space here and your encouraging words. Or just coming as a silent visitor! :)

Life has been kinda pulling me in all directions lately. And so I've just been...waiting. On different things. 

And talking about waiting, while I was tapping my fingers for these black sesame cookies to bake, I picked up my lately neglected camera and took some random shots around the home. I learnt that for me it is difficult to develop an eye to view things so familiar and mundane and capture them through a different lens in a way I've not seen before. A different perspective. I think that's what continues to challenge me and requires me to really stretch my not-so-dominant right brain (aka creative side).

Thanks Julz!

A while ago, I noticed my supermarket starting to stock up on various milk alternatives - like oat milk and almond milk. There definitely has been different 'milk' trends over the years! 

I grew up detesting milk (the traditional cow's milk, that is) yet was forced to drink it as my parents told me it's full of calcium to help me grow taller (it's probably safe to conclude that milk did nothing to my height.) Then later on, there was this debate on why the cow's milk is designed for...uhhh only cows, and not us humans, and how it can actually promote cancer. 

Then the health conscious (particularly those living in the western society) started making the switch to drinking soy milk. Before I knew it, articles after articles were published to discuss how soy milk can lead to infertility and all that kinda bad stuff.

How confusing does this all get? Do these information affect you at all? As for me, not really. I still continue to drink my milk and soy (can't quite imagine a dairy-free or soy-free lifestyle!)...but in moderation like all good things I suppose.

Almond milk, on the other hand, just doesn't seem to have any bad reports (hmmm yet?!) It's full of vitamins and antioxidants, low in fat and calories (compared to normal milk). And contains no cholesterol! Perhaps the only downside that I know of is the cost! At over $5 a litre over here, I can see that not many can afford to make the switch.

And so I learnt recently you can make it at home for a fraction of the cost and it really doesn't require much effort or time too. Just soak raw almonds over night in water, and then blitz it together with water and sieve! Voilaaaa, you've just made fresh almond milk!

Homemade almond milk is soo creamy and very delicious with my morning porridge. 

It makes for the best afternoon tea treat with these buttery, crunchy black sesame cookies too! 

They say milk and cookies make a great pair. They are just meant to be and belong together.

I'd say the same applies for almond milk too :)

Anyways, I hope you have a joyous week ahead! God's mercies are new every morning...even on Monday mornings ;)

Almond Milk
  • Raw almonds 
  • Water 
  • Honey (optional) 
  • A blender cheese cloth or a sieve 
Note: Use almond and water in the ratio 1:4 (I went with 1:3 which was more creamy. You can dilute it later if you wish).

1. Soak the almonds overnight in water.

2. The next day, drain the almonds. Add the almonds and (fresh) water (in the ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 water to almonds), to a blender.

3. Blend well. Add a touch of honey to sweeten (if you wish. I didn't as I found almond naturally sweet already on their own).

4. Strain through either a sieve or cheese cloth.

I've yet to figure out what to do with the left over almond bits...any ideas?

Black Sesame Cookie
Makes 20 6cm cookies
  • 65g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 40g sugar (I used raw)
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 egg (~15g), room temperature
  • 1 tsp milk, room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 125g cake flour, sifted
  • 20g black sesame, toasted
1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter until smooth.  Gradually add in the sugar.

2. Mix the egg, milk and baking powder together in a bowl. Add mixture slowly to the cream/sugar in previous step while continuing to mix in a stand mixer (or hand held mixer).

3. Add the sifted flour and salt into the stand mixer and mix until just combined, then add in the black sesame seeds. Let the dough mix for another few seconds.

4. With a spatula, combine the black sesame seeds well into the dough. Roll out the dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper with a rolling pin until the dough is around 3mm thick.

5. Transfer to a flat cookie sheet and refrigerate for around 2 hours.

6. Preheat the oven to 170C.

7. Use your favourite cookie cutters, cut out as many cookies as you can and transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Remember to pierce the cookies once or twice with a fork before you bake!

8. Bake for around 12-14 minutes. Check your oven and take out if already slightly browned.


Red Bean (Adzuki) Quinoa Muffins

>> Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sometimes I wonder how I've developed a sense of entitlement in various aspects of my life. For example, I think if I work really hard, I deserve rewards or things to go my way. As an educated worker, the privileges which may come with the role seem to overtime turn into something I feel entitled to.

This past Sunday morning, I was brushing my teeth when the lights suddenly turned off and my window-less bathroom turned semi pitch black. As it turned out, there was a power outage in the entire building which caused more inconvenience than I had imagined. Apart from worrying that the food in the fridge may go off, I could not get out of the building as the elevator did not work and the main entrance was stuck (not to mention the cars in the garage too!)

At the end I decided to climb down the fire escape stairs (all 17 levels!) and made my way to the station. Even though I managed to get out in one piece, I was feeling flustered and late for church.  Truth be told, I was annoyed that something like this would happen at my side of town at the most inopportune time, causing me delays. Perhaps because I am a middle-class Australian, at the core of me I feel entitled to never have the power go out on me, to always have enough food and running water and to always have things work out my expected way. 

And then I was humbled when the Lord reminded me that a great number of people in the more disadvantaged side of the world do see the lack of power as their everyday norm. No doubt to have access to any source of power, their heart would be overflowed with thanksgiving.

I do think it can be a 'danger' to have too much of a good thing, be it money, time or other resources. It builds up a false sense of entitlement. So I hope to be always alert enough to notice the things I do take for granted...and be deeply thankful.

Now, as I power-climbed down those flights of stairs, I'm thankful that I had these energy giving muffins on one hand as breakfast. ;)

I made these quinoa red-bean muffins the day before. This is one of my favourite healthy muffin recipes however I normally use mashed bananas instead of the mashed red beans!

Like many desserts on this blog, these muffins don't look pretty or dainty or fine. They are what they are - healthful and wholesome. No doubt delicious too (think soft and moist!)

There was a time in my life I thought the world of desserts/sweets consists of only red beans and mung beans! Those were the days growing up in Taiwan where it was common to have sweetened red bean soup as an after dinner treat rather than ice-cream and cakes and tarts. (Those came into my life much much later!)

Do you know that red beans make for delicious breakfast too? I like to add them to my morning porridge from time to time...yum! 

(You can find more red bean recipes here.)

The flavour of the quinoa flour is quite strong and gives these muffins a delicious nutty taste. Of course, you can adjust the amount of the flour and replace with AP flour if that suits you.

And the same goes with the red beans, if you're not particular keen (please don't fall into this category!) just substitute with fruits and berries...and chocolate. I'm also thinking mashed edamame beans...and salted caramel. Perhaps not together!

Red Bean Quinoa Muffins
Adapted from here
Makes 12 (I halved the recipe)

  • 1 cup all purpose-flour 
  • 1 cup of quinoa flour 
  • 3/4 cup sugar 
  • 1 tbsp white chia seeds
  • 1 rounded teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of sunflower oil (or other neutral cooking oil)
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 1/3 cups of mashed cooked red beans
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. Place muffin cups in the muffin tin.
3. In a medium bowl combine the flours, chia seeds, sugar, baking soda.

4. In another bowl whisk the milk, oil and eggs.

5. Pour the milk mix into the dry mix. Add the red beans paste.
6. Stir just until the it's blended. Don't over mix, a lumpy batter will make the best muffins.
7. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups.
8. Place in the oven rack for 20 minutes at 400°F.

Thanks for visiting with me today.

I know I've been kinda slack on updating this space lately.

Been busy but still got to take some time off to smell the roses! ;)

And now...I can almost smell the weekend. Can you?

See you soon!

Related Posts with Thumbnails

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009

Back to TOP