Pineapple upside down cake gone sideways

The day started innocently enough. I was going to make a pineapple upside down cake, something I'd never made before. While it was baking, I was going to wash the kitchen floor and some other housecleaning perfect plan.

I was making the cake because I'd just learned, after umpteen years of marriage, that my chocolate, peanut butter, and nut loving husband really liked pineapple upside down cake. Who knew?

After browsing my cookbooks, and reviewing a few online recipes, I landed on a "scratch" recipe figuring I was going to do this right, no cake mix shortcuts this time. (I was, though, planning to use canned pineapple, not fresh.)

I gathered my ingredients and mixed the cake, following the recipe exactly. I've learned the hard way that I am a far better cook than I am a baker, so I must follow baking instructions to the letter.

The only thing I didn't do was use a round cake pan as the directions instructed. I, wisely I thought, decided to use a springform pan instead. That way there would be no issue releasing the sticky brown sugary topping of the cake.

Furthermore, and even more wisely, I wrapped the springform pan in foil, just in case there was any sugar or butter leakage. I've had that kind of problem before.

That was my mistake. I was just about to wash the kitchen floor when, not five minutes after I put the cake in the oven, I started to smell smoke.When I opened the oven door, more smoke.

I put a rimmed baking pan under the cake: more smoke. I cracked the oven door open.

I turned on the overhead fans, opened the windows and the front door. Never mind it was one of those cold May days we had.

I lit candles. I googled about how to get rid of smoke quickly: warm white vinegar on the stove top.

I had to fudge the baking time on the cake by now. Surely it was a total failure.

When I finally decided enough was enough and pulled the cake out of the oven to cool, I discovered the problem: I had torn the foil as I slid the cake into the oven so much for my attempt to avoid a potential problem.

In the end, the cake was perfectly edible. And it released perfectly from the pan. But the consistency of the cake was all wrong, part cake, part pudding. My husband gamely ate it. He had seconds, even though the cake didn't turn out like his mother's.

I fared much better with my second attempt. I used the right pan. I had no problems and it was a perfect consistency.

The lesson I learned long ago was reinforced. Follow the instructions, especially when I'm baking.

Maybe now I can wash the kitchen floor.

Pineapple upside down cake

For the topping:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 (8-ounce) can pineapple rings in pineapple juice

8 to 10 maraschino cherries

For the cake:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 large eggs

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray; set aside.

Melt the butter and sugar in a small frying pan over medium heat, stirring frequently. The mixture is done when the sugar is bubbly and darkened slightly. Pour the sugar mixture into a prepared cake pan and spread into an even layer to cool.

Remove the pineapple rings from the can and reserve 1/2 cup of the juice. Set a single ring in the center of the pan then arrange six to seven rings around the center ring. Place a maraschino cherry in the center of each ring and set the pan aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Place the sugar and butter in a large bowl. Using an electric hand mixer beat on medium speed until lightened and creamy, about five minutes. Add the eggs and beat until smooth, about one minute more.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the reserved 1/2 cup pineapple juice, in this order: Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add 1/2 of the pineapple juice, mixing until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add another 1/2 of the remaining flour and mix again for about 30 seconds, followed by the remaining pineapple juice and 30 seconds of mixing.

Finally, add the remaining flour mixture and mix until completely smooth about one minute total.

Spread the batter over the fruit. The batter will be thick, so use a large spoon to dollop large spoonfuls of the batter evenly over the fruit in the pan. Smooth the batter then tap the cake pan lightly on the counter to settle the batter.

Bake the cake until dark golden-brown and a cake tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

Remove the warm cake from the oven to a cooling rack and cool for 10 minutes (do not wait longer or the cake will not come out of the pan).

Invert a plate over the cake pan and using kitchen towels or oven mitts to grasp onto both the plate and the cake pan, flip both the pan and the plate over so the pan now sits on top of the plate. Slowly lift the cake pan away. Serve the cake warm or cool before serving and storing.

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

(Wolbert is a former corporate communicator and English teacher, now indulging in her two loves, writing and cooking. She can be reached at rdwolbert@gmail.com or at her Sprigs of Rosemary Facebook page.)