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Tropical Upside-Down Cake

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Serves 9 to 12

  • by Katherine Eastman Seeley from Fine Cooking
    Issue 127

Here’s a dessert designed to beat the winter blues. Take one bite of this rum-spiked pineapple-mango cake, and you can practically hear steel drums playing an island tune.

For the topping
  • 1-1/2 oz. (3 Tbs.) unsalted butter; more for the pan
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 Tbs. dark rum
  • 1 large ripe mango, pitted, peeled, and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 small ripe pineapple, peeled, cut lengthwise into eighths, cored, and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
For the cake
  • 6-3/4 oz. (1-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. dark rum
  • 1 Tbs. finely grated lime zest (from 2 medium limes)
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup well-shaken unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 oz. (1 cup) sweetened shredded coconut
Make the topping

Butter a 9-inch square cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter the parchment.

Put the butter and sugar in a 2-quart saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and a shade darker, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, and add the rum (be careful; it will bubble and steam). Return the pan to the heat and stir until combined, about 30 seconds. Immediately pour the caramel into the cake pan, spreading it with a spatula to cover the bottom. Let sit until cool enough to touch, about 5 minutes.

Decoratively arrange the mango and pineapple over the caramel, overlapping the pieces slightly.

Make the cake

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer), beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the rum, zest, and vanilla, and then the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour (in 3 additions) and the coconut milk (in 2 additions), beginning and ending with the flour, and beating until just combined after each addition. Stir in the shredded coconut.

With a spatula, gently scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan without disturbing the fruit. Smooth the surface. Tap the pan firmly against the counter once or twice to remove any air bubbles. Bake, rotating halfway through, until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes.

Cool on a rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to release it from the pan and invert it onto a serving plate. Remove the pan, and rearrange any fruit that has stuck to the parchment. Serve warm or at room temperature.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 410; Fat (g): 21; Fat Calories (kcal): 180; Saturated Fat (g): 14; Protein (g): 4; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 4.5; Carbohydrates (g): 52; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): 210; Cholesterol (mg): 85; Fiber (g): 3;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This is a pretty and tasty cake that I made for a small party. My guests devoured it, but it was not quite as special as I was expecting. The flavor of rum is a bit too strong. I couldn't taste either the coconut or the lime in the cake. Next time I would use less rum in the batter and I'll double it for a bigger cake.

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