How often do I cook with fresh pineapple? Never. So here’s my chance.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake
Milk Street, March/April 2020

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
¾ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. ground allspice
5 Tbsp. fine yellow cornmeal
¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 stick salted butter, cut into 1-Tbsp. pieces, room temperature, divided
3 Tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
Eight ¼-inch-thick fresh pineapple rings (about 1 lb.), cut into quarters.
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature

Heat the oven to 325 degrees F with a rack in the middle position. Mist a 9-by-2-inch round nonstick cake pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ¾ tsp. of the salt, the baking powder, baking soda and allspice In a small bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, buttermilk and ricotta.

In a nonstick 12-inch skillet over medium-high, combine 2 Tbsp. of the butter, the brown sugar and the remaining ¼ tsp. salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until bubbling. Add the pineapple and cook, stirring often, until softened and caramelized and the liquid has nearly evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer the pinapple and butter mixture to the prepared cake pan, distributing the fruit in a single layer. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you prepare the batter.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the remaining 6 Tbsp. of butter and the white sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce to medium and add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl with a spatula between additions, then beat until well combined, about 1 minute. With the mixer on low, add the cornmeal-buttermilk mixture, then beat until just combined, about 30 seconds; the mixture will look curdled. Scrape down the bowl.

With the mixer running on low, add the dry ingredients and mix just until the batter is evenly moistened, about 20 seconds; the batter will be thick. Using the spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and give the batter a few folds to ensure no pockets of flour remain.

Remove the cake pan from the oven (close the oven door) and carefully scrape the batter onto the hot pineapple, then spread in an even layer and smooth the surface with the spatula. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted at the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a paring knife around the pan to loosen the cake, then invert it onto a serving platter. Cool to room temperature.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

The recipe asks for 1 lb. of pineapple, and I was able to get that from more than half of a small pineapple. Now, pay attention to the math: eight pineapple rings per each of four quarters = thin slices. You must “distribute fruit in a single layer,” but don’t freak out. It works, like a puzzle. You can make all those slices fit at the bottom of your cake pan. Make it happen.

I baked this cake for 55 minutes. The final (pretty) result is a moist cake that hits you first with the warm flavor of allspice. It’s a spice that’s more floral than cinnamon. And those pineapples are lovely atop this cake, a bit syrupy. This cake is a fine stunt. Try it.

Next week, I’ll bake again. Allow me to try the “Amaretti Biscuits,” from A Baker’s House, where I’ll get to incorporate a little bit of amaretto in my cookies. Come back to my site next week to share them with me.