This past summer, we vacationed in Michigan with our Cincinnati family – all artists in their own right: Randy, an architectural engineer who designs museums all over the world, Elaine, owner of a graphics design company and sketches beautifully, Avery, a senior this year (OK – I need a moment to catch my breath because how did that happen – wasn’t she just 5???) an extremely talented writer and poet who has won a host of awards and 14-year-old Lydia (another ‘OMG – how did that happen?!’ moment), an incredible talent in paint, sketching, charcoals – you name it, the girl can create it – she too, has won her share of awards. The ‘Nati’ family loves to cook and eat which makes them super good company and me a very happy camper! And did I mention that they all know a thing or two about cameras? They took some really lovely pictures of the food we enjoyed.
Until vacation, I’d never thought about photographing the food we make but one night Lydia (the QUEEN of cupcakes) made the most fabulous Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes! So fabulous, in fact, that it took all I could muster to not snatch that plate to my room and finish off every last crumb myself. But after dinner, the sun was setting over the vineyards and the sunlight was streaming into the kitchen at just the right angles – it hit that platter of cupcakes so perfectly, that Elaine grabbed the camera . . . ‘click . . . click . . . click’ . . . and now that moment is captured forever. Until then, I hadn’t noticed the interplay of shadow and light, how they danced with one another and made the entire plate of those cakes look so delicious and seductive. And when I see that picture now, it makes me want to head for the kitchen and create that moment all over again.
Isn’t that what food is all about?
Unfortunately, the only picture taken that evening was the plate of the finished product – but I hope it inspires you to try the recipe – it is divine!
PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CUPCAKES
500 CUPCAKES, Fergal Connolly
A classic cake scaled down to a cupcake! When turning out the cupcakes, allow the sweet juices of the pineapple to be absorbed into the golden sponge.
for the topping:
20 oz. can crushed pineapple
1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter, melted 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
for the cupcakes:
1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter, softened
1 cup superfine sugar
2 cups self-rising flour (NOTE: 1-3/4 cups regular flour + 1 tsp baking power + 1 tsp salt can be substituted in lieu of self-rising flour)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350″F (175″C). Grease two 12-cup muffin pans with butter, and dust with a little flour, tapping out the excess. In the bottom of each cup, drizzle 1 tablespoon melted butter, 1 tablespoon pineapple, and 1 tablespoon brown sugar.
Place all the cupcake ingredients in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and pale, about 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon the batter on top of the pineapple mixture in each cup. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove pans from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.
Turn out the cupcakes onto dessert plates, serve warm with heavy cream if desired.
Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Makes 2 dozen