Pineapple Upside down cake has always been my favorite dessert. I hadn't had it for many years and hadn't baked one in at least 50 years. During this past year, I was present at three meals which included this delightful dessert. One time it was a meeting with pineapple upside down cake was the dessert theme. That there are so many variations never occurred to me.
Of course, I was determined to bake one myself. So, I pulled out an old recipe and went shopping for what I needed. After measuring out all the ingredients exactly as the recipe called for (which is NOT my typical way of proceeding), I followed the rest of the directions exactly as written. The only differences were to double the recipe and use coconut sugar. This was the only heavy pan I had and I don't use refined sugar in anything.
I opened the oven once, saw that it was not ready, turned the temperature down 25 degrees, and let it continue baking til the aroma filled the house. When I opened the oven to take it out, I w as so disappointed to see that it had fallen in the middle. Nevertheless, I let it sit a couple of minutes and then turned it over onto a plate and let it cool. The consistency of the well browned, cooled and delicious tasting cake was heavy, like a queen cake, but very moist.
I put a photo of the cake on facebook. Many people responded both on the post and when I met someone in the village. I took the cake to the church brunch. It and my tale of its creation evoked many tales of pineapple upside down cake. Memories were shared of how a mother made hers - in a bundt pan, in an iron skillet, or in a cobbler pan. I got lots of feedback accompanied with disaster stories on what might have caused the cake to fall in the middle.
I didn't get a lot of feedback on others' experience of my cake, but the stories told and the conversations around pineapple upside down cake has been an event to cherish for a long time.
A couple of days later, I was watching, quite by accident, although I have come to believe that there are no accidents, The British Baking Show. The assignment was to create three different cakes, one for each round, with a different theme. In all three rounds, the basic cake was to be a sponge cake. I watched as the contestants prepared their sponge cakes. As I watched, I became aware - well remembered - that the pineapple upside down cake recipe I used was a sponge cake. While watching these sponge cakes being made- some with success, some with unexpected results - I realized I was watching the answer to my bewilderment about why my cake fell in the middle and why it had the consistency of a queen cake.
I am not sure I know the answer yet, but I am now very aware that the making of a sponge cake is somewhat of a skill in and of itself. If there is a next time, I will make the cake with an old fashioned mixer, not the Cuisinart. I will not bake a double batch and I will not open the oven before the delicate aroma of pineapple fills the air.
In the meantime, I am waiting patiently for the next inspiration to call for me to respond. Perhaps there was a lesson in the pineapple upside down cake experience. Even though it was delicious, it just may have come out as I remember making it 50 years ago, if I also included the way I made it then. I am not suggesting I should be t the person I was way back then, or a more conscientious cook. I love most of my unexpected results, just as I have loved this one.
I am sensing that in other areas of life's ongoing experience, I might trust that which I already know and incorporate it into what I am doing, trust my intuitions when creativity is calling me beyond that which I already know, and trust that the tension between knowledge/skill and creativity/intuition is always a great place to be alive.
Reflect on those times when your own unexpected results turned out to be meaningful moments. What's your story?