Nina’s Cake…Circa 2015

My Nina baked all kinds of wonderful goodies. Yeast rolls that melted in your mouth.  Drizzled with melted butter and syrup…Yum.   Chocolate cake with frosting and real whipped cream.  Pecan pie. Lemon Meringue Pie so tall that it touched the ceiling. Well almost. And then there was the Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

She made hers in the black cast iron skillet that had been seasoned for decades… I will have to substitute something more up to date.  I didn’t say better.  I just said up to date because who has an authentic seasoned cast iron skillet these days?

She used real butter and sometimes eggs from the neighbors henhouse (those were the days, right).

She used brown sugar and good ol’ Dole Sliced Pineapples and those glistening red cherries that were more beautiful to me than rubies.  I think she used a recipe but a lot of the times she didn’t. She just had all of these delicious recipes floating around in her brain.  I can remember the melted butter and the brown sugar sizzling in the skillet because she always put that in the oven first.  Then she would mix up the ingredients.  Do you remember that table top mixer that had the spinning pedestal.  I thought it was so cool.  She rarely used the type of  little handheld mixer that I use almost exclusively.

She looks like a sweet sorceress adding ingredients to your little cauldron when she added the sugar and vanilla to that spinning bowl.  Me, I look like a clown juggling 5 oranges because I have so many things in my hands and on the countertop.  That was a thing too…how did she keep her countertop so clean.  She didn’t even have a dishwasher to hide the offending items in.  But my dishwasher is perpetually full, along with the countertop and the fridge and the freezer.  But nothing to eat come dinner time.  Water, water everywhere…That’s a blog for another time….back to the Pineapple Upside Down Cake with a Twist.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Not Lemon.

My son happens to have a few food allergies. To almost all of the ingredients of Nina’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  Like eggs. and butter.  And flour.  Well, your traditional wheat baking flour, anyway.  And milk (which we don’t need for this cake). and a few other things that luckily aren’t called for…

So how do you make a cake without flour, eggs, and butter?

Sounds like a pile of sugar…I bet you thought that I was going to say a pile of something else…Ha!  Well I said we have a twist.  So I replace the wheat flour with a Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Mix.  And instead of water in the mix, I use pineapple juice drained from the Dole’s Sliced Pineapples.  I use flax seed gel – a semi slimy concoction of water and ground flax seeds.  It helps to hold the cake together so that you don’t get the common problem of a crumbling gluten free mess.  I use dairy free margarine instead of butter and good old Canola oil.  and the secret ingredient that also holds this house of cards together – applesauce.  Yep, everything that I bake for my first baby contains applesauce.

I grease the grey nonstick 9″ round baking pan with the pseudo-margarine and add brown sugar.  Then I line up the pineapple rings in the regular pattern (BTW, I found another photo that shows an arrangement that gives a bite of delicious pineapple in every mouthful.  Next time I’ll use that formation…) Eek, no cherries.  This is a mistake that my grandmother would not have made.  But I’m committed now so I have to mix the cake batter and pour it into the cake tin.  Bake according to the instructions and about 30 minutes later the kitchen smells like heaven and was back in my Nina’s house…

It flipped out of the pan perfectly and I served it up warm.  The brown sugar glaze was all sticky and perfect and the kids loved it.  It was a little different than my Nina’s but it passed the taste test of the pickiest eater in the house – me.

To read more about my Nina’s Kitchen, click here.