November 12, 2010

Bahija's Pineapple Upside-Down and Turned Around Date Cake

Bahija Lafredi's sensibility for the extraordinary in food, never ceases to amaze me. It comes easy to her.  Unpretentious in her kitchen whites or traditional tunics, she is like a neutral book cover to a colorful, classic novel. Full of surprises, her imagination takes something as simple as a sponge cake and dresses it to the nines with a flip of the wrists.

This basic pineapple upside-down cake came out of the oven beautifully caramelized and mouthwatering. It would have pleased a Queen. Then Bahija said, 'but if you like, you can turn half of it over'. The underside was studded with dates and almonds. Quite a contrast to the yellow caramelized pineapple. She studied it for a minute, then got an idea to quarter it. What started out as a festive cake, now became more so~ A work of art and a feast for the eyes.

Cooking is not always about following a recipe. It's about learning to follow someones way of seeing.


9 eggs
200 grams flour (1 cup)
200 grams of butter
100 grams of sugar (1/2 cup)
6-8 apples ( pears optional)
1 pineapple
1 cup of sliced, pitted and chopped dates
1 cup of slivered almonds
2 T orange or strawberry marmalade 
2 T baking powder
a pinch of salt

caramel sauce:
100 grams sugar
Melt the sugar on a low flame until it turns a clear light brown. Pour the sauce to coat the bottom of a ring mold, or springform pan. (Caution! Sauce is very hot!)
Slice the fruit and put around the pan. Pineapple first, then the apples.

Beat the eggs with the butter, salt and sugar.
Mix baking powder with the flour, then add to wet ingredients and mix well.

Pour the batter over the fruit. Decorate the top with the chopped dates and almonds.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350F. Check for doneness with a toothpick. Invert the cake carefully!
If you want to make the presentation more interesting, cut the cake in quarters and turn only half of it over. You will have pineapple upside down cake on one side, and dates and almonds on the other.




heschel said...

We loved watching Bahija demonstrating this cake in Morocco last week. What I love about this chef is her enthusiasm and love of cooking -- and her pleasure in sharing it with us. The following day this cake followed us to a picnic lunch at Jardin de Senteurs et Culture -- on our way to a Kasbah in the Atlas mountains. What a trip...and what a cake!

About the recipe: Wondering if the almonds were also added to the batter in addition to decorating the cake?


peggy markel said...

Heschel, that's a good question. I don't think so. Did you detect almonds in the cake itself? I don't.
I will ask!

Happy Thanksgiving! And thanks for coming on the trip and helping me with the recipe.