Baking · Cake · Nation Cake Challenge · North America

Hawaii: Pineapple, Coconut and Blueberry Upside-Down Cake

As an American state slap-bang in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is a complete contrast to the rest of mainland America (My lack of geographical knowledge in my younger years becomes painfully evident when discussing the Pacific – until I was 11 I thought that Hawaii was somewhere in the Caribbean!). This tropical paradise (Paradise incidently being one of the archepeligo’s nicknames) enjoys ideal conditions for people from sun-seeking tourists to thrill-seeking surfers and volcanologists. Sadly it has one major issue, in that it is about as far as Britain as possible, therefore making a holiday rather impractical.

I plan to visit Hawaii at some point during my life, and at present the dreams of this island make the grey British January weather rather more bearable. When I walk down the cold, dark roads, I picture myself in Hawaii, eating pineapples (the island’s biggest crop), swimming in the warm sea and generally getting the sun I can’t seem to find at the moment!

pineapple upside down cake

The main aspect of this delicious cake, the pineapple is a major export of Hawaii. Whilst it originated in South America, it was introduced to the islands in the early 1990’s, quickly gaining massive popularity. The two largest pineapple companies (Dole and Del Monte) first started their companies on Oahu (the largest albums) and Hawaiian pineapple is still a massive corner of the market to this day. Combined in this delectable cake is the intensely tropical coconut and some added rum and blueberries to give some extra colour and intensity. Eat this cake and you will forever forget the pineapple upside down cakes of yesteryear.

The recipe was taken from  London Bakes (here)

Pineapple, Coconut and Blueberry Upside-Down Cake

Ingredients:

  • 500g fresh pineapple (canned will do at a push, but fresh is so much better!)
  • 20g fresh blueberries
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 100ml coconut milk
  • 50g dessicated coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 30ml rum
  • 165g unsalted butter, softened plus more for the tin
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 185g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 175F.  Line a tin with parchment paper and grease well with butter. Don’t use a springform tin unless you want to spill hot syrup all over yourself…

In a saucepan, heat the coconut milk until boiling, before taking off the heat and stir in the dessicated coconut, vanilla and rum.  Leave to cool whilst you prepare the pineapple.

Cut the pineapple into thin slices (if using canned, then just drain the slices slightly).  Melt the butter and sugar in a frying pan and, when hot, add the pineapple slices and caramelize on each side (this will take about 3 minutes on each side). Remove from the heat, allow to cool and place the pineapple in a layer at the bottom of the cake tin.  Pour over the syrup from the pan.  Add the blueberries to the gaps between the pineapple slices.

To make the cake, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time until combined and then fold in the flour, baking powder and coconut mixture. Pour into the tin and bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden brown. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack, carefully peeling off the parchment paper to expose the fruit topping.

Serve with ice cream or cream.

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Salads

Lunchbox Success: Blueberry, Pecan and Feta Salad

As a school teacher, lunch is often a rushed affair to prepare – you want it to be relatively fresh by the time you eat it, but you don’t want to have to spend time preparing it in the morning. This is especially true if like me you are getting to work extremely early – You want as much time as possible to get prepared, not making a complex lunch. The go-to is often a sandwich, but I’m not a fan of basic sandwiches – either I buy a good one or I don’t eat it!

Salads would tend to be my preferred choice, but the choice can be a little constricted – the amount of times I’ve eaten a salad of lettuce, tomato and cucumber and olives. Not bad, but slightly pedestrian after the hundredth time. I’m always looking out for more interesting salads, and eating this one at a school function, I knew I’d found what I was looking for.

Blueberry, Feta and Pecan Salad

Blueberries and pecans contrast with the saltiness of the feta cheese and the tang of a balsamic reduction. Mixed in with lettuce of your choice this forms a delicious and unusual choice of salad for a lovely lunchbox. I have also bulked this out with potato gnocchi for a more substantial meal.

Blueberry, Pecan and Feta Salad

The recipe is deliberately vague – no-one likes measuring out ingredients first thing! Aim for equal amounts of all the ingredients and you wont go far wrong in constructing it.

Blueberry, Pecan and Feta Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 handful feta cheese
  • 1 handful pecan nuts
  • 1 handful blueberries
  • 1 handful lettuce (mixed leaves work best)
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 handful potato gnocchi

Instructions:

Boil the potato gnocchi according to the instructions, if required. Wash the lettuce and blueberries and place in a bowl with the pecan nuts and chunks of feta cheese. Mix with the potato gnocchi. Reduce the balsamic vinegar over a low heat  and drizzle over the salad before serving.