Recipe: Cooking with Children and Not Pineapple Upside Down Cake Coffeecake

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My father has always loved sweets and one of his favorites is a pineapple upside down cake.  I have made many upside down cakes over the years and they are beautiful and delicious. However, what I don’t like about them is that after that first day the caramel degrades and the top of the cake becomes a mushy mess.

Last week my parent came down to see our new puppy. Whenever they come for a visit, I like to bake them a treat and send home leftovers. It was while I was trying to decide what to make that I spied that lonely can of pineapple standing next to the jar maraschino cherries in my cupboard.  Immediately my internal kitchen chemist took over and I developed this new recipe.

My children will tell you that my kitchen is often the scene of recipe development or just general experimentation.  They must have liked playing “scientist” in mom’s kitchen and creating recipes because both of them chose careers in chemistry. Well, I can’t really take much credit for their career choices as my husband is also a chemist and both of the children are very independent.  Our son is a senior research chemist at Mayo Clinic and our daughter just finished her PhD in Analytical Chemistry.

Both of my children can also cook.  In fact my son does his own canning from the produce he grows in his garden.

Cooking with your children is not only a wonderful time for bonding, but it truly is a great educational experience.  I always developed and taught cooking lessons when I was a preschool teacher.  The children learned math by measuring.  They also improved their sharing and group cooperation skills while practicing stirring without making a mess.  My students were the champions of kitchen clean up.  I was a lot of fun for all of us.

The batter for this cake is an excellent one to use when cooking with children since all of the ingredients are measured and dumped together in one bowl.  They also can take a wooden spoon and press down on the pineapple in a colander until all of the juice has been squeezed out.  Drinking the pineapple juice is a great snack treat for those helpful little bakers.  If they are feeling experimental the children can mix the cherry juice with the pineapple juice to create their own concoctions.

Since, I made up this recipe and it was a bit hit, dad asked me to write it down before I forget how I made it.  This coffee cake has all the flavor of pineapple upside down cake without the flipping of the cake and with a crispy topping that keeps well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 X 13 cake pan.

Thoroughly drain a 15-ounce can of crushed pineapple.  Set aside.

Thoroughly drain a jar of Maraschino cherries and coarsely chop.  Set aside.

Caramel Crumb Filling:
In a small bowl using a fork combine until crumbly: 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 cup flour, 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup white sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.  Set aside.

Cake Batter:
3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 cups of white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 cup of canola or vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients and mix together, flour, sugar and baking powder.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add eggs, oil and milk.  Mix by hand with a whisk until the batter is smooth.

Pour 1/2 of the cake batter into the bottom of the 9 X 13 pan.  Spread evenly in bottom of pan.  Sprinkle the caramel crumb filling over the batter.  Spread the well-drained pineapple over the caramel filling.  Carefully spoon the rest of the batter and spread evenly over the pineapple.  Top by evenly spreading the cherries over the batter. Sprinkle the top of the cake with a layer of white sugar, about 1/4 cup.

Put into the oven and bake for 50- 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

While the cake is still warm.  Drizzle a simple vanilla icing over the top of the cake and serve.

Simple Vanilla Icing:
1 cup of powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
Add a teaspoon of milk at a time until you get the desired consistency.  Stir until smooth.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come onto me, to such belongs the kingdom of heaven. Then he took them in his arms and blessed them.” 




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