Pineapple cake


This recipe is from my book 'Piri piri Starfish'. It is a very popular cake in Portugal – great for breakfast or afternoon tea. I had this very often on the island of San Miguel in the Azores - with their lovely pineapples. Make sure the pineapple you use is sweet & ripe. The tin size is important here - I make it in a large loaf tin. You can also bake it in a high ring tin.

220g (8 oz/1 cup) caster sugar
100g (3 ½ oz) light brown sugar
1 fresh, sweet pineapple
4 eggs, separated
200g (7 oz) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g (7 oz) cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Heat your oven to 180' C (350'F)
Butter a 30 x 11 cm (12 x 4 inch) loaf tin with sides of 8 or 9 cm. (Make sure your tin is no smaller than this – to avoid any batter spilling out when baking).
Flour the tin lightly, rap on your counter & shake out any excess.
Make a caramel: Tip 120g (4 oz/ ½ cup) of the caster sugar into a small, heavy-based non-stick pot over a medium heat, & add a couple of teaspoons of water. Heat it until the sugar starts to melt, then tilt the pan to swirl it around – don't stir as the sugar may crystallise. Lower the heat & carry on swirling until the sugar has melted & turning a golden brown. You can use a wooden spoon at this point. Watch it closely – it can burn in a second. When it is a deep caramel colour, quickly & carefully pour it into the bottom of your tin, & holding it with oven gloves, swirl the tin to cover the bottom completely & a little up the sides. Leave to cool a little.
Peel your pineapple, cut away the 'eyes'. Slice into rings of just under a cm thick. You will fit 8 -10 slices in your loaf tin. Twizzle out the cores & eat them. Arrange the rings over the caramel, overlapping them compactly (try to imagine how it will look when you flip the cake over for serving).
Whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Cream together the butter & remaining caster sugar & the brown sugar until fluffy. Add the yolks & vanilla, beating them in well. Sift & beat in the flour, baking powder & a couple of pinches salt. Fold in the egg whites or mix them quickly in with your beaters so they don't deflate too much. Spoon & scrape out into the tin over the pineapple, tapping the tin a couple of times on the counter to settle it all in.
Bake for 50-60 minutes until puffed up, deep golden & a skewer inserted comes out fairly clean. Check the cake towards the end, if it is browning too much cover loosely with foil & continue baking. Remove from oven & remove any foil, cool for a while, then loosen the sides with a blunt knife & turn out. Cut into thick slices to serve, either still slightly warm or completely cooled. This keeps quite well.

photo by Manos Chatzikonstantis, styling by Michail Touros