Pining for sunny days

Debbie Skelton
Barbecued pineapple salad and paprika chicken.
Barbecued pineapple salad and paprika chicken. Photo: Steve Shanahan

I wonder where the family bonfires on cracker night, the Aussie hacienda-style architecture and the olive-green and burnt-orange kitchen laminate have gone. I suspect relegated to the same place as the pineapple upside-down cake.

I have a vivid memory of my aunt arriving at our house, wearing her cat-eye sunglasses and spotted sundress, stepping delicately out of her Holden EH, Jackie O-style, clutching a Tupperware cake server. We knew what was in the cake server, the ultimate treat - her caramelised, sticky, pineapple upside down cake.

It feels like pineapple season. The chorus of lawnmowers and the competing cicada crescendo leave you in no doubt summer is just around the corner.

Pineapple upside down cake.
Pineapple upside down cake. Photo: Steve Shanahan

Add to the din the sizzle of lunch grilling on the barbecue and mum calling from the kitchen for someone to check the meat doesn't burn. and my Sunday is complete.

If you like pineapple cooked, the barbecued salad is one for you. The barbecue caramelises the sugars and makes it a perfect partner to onion, basil and coconut. Serve this salad with barbecued meat, or with this recipe for paprika grilled chicken.

Debbie Skelton is a Canberra food writer,

Pineapple salad

1 ripe whole pineapple, sliced into 2cm thick rings

2 medium red onions, sliced into thick rings, keeping them intact

4 tbsp olive oil


12 basil leaves

4 tbsp shredded coconut

2 tbsp chopped spring onions

1 lemon, juice and zest

Preheat the barbecue to a medium heat. Drizzle the pineapple slices and onion rings with the olive oil. Grill the pineapple and onion rings until golden and softened and until grill marks appear, about five to six minutes each side. They should be lightly charred.

Pineapple upside down cake

½ cup unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 can sliced pineapple rings in juice

6 maraschino cherries

6 pecans

1 cup plain flour, sifted

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

3 eggs, separated

1 cup white sugar

5 tbsp pineapple juice, from the tin

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 175C. Prepare a 23-centimetre cake tin by adding the butter to the tin and placing it inside the warming oven until melted. This should take a few minutes. Remove the tin from the oven and sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the butter. Place six pineapple rings (keep the juice) evenly over the sugar and place a cherry inside each pineapple ring. Put a pecan in the spaces between the rings.

In a medium bowl, combine the sifted flour, baking powder and salt. Using a hand mixer, in a metal or glass bowl, beat the egg whites on high until peaked. Set aside.

Using an electric stand mixer, beat the egg yolks with the sugar at medium speed until light and creamy.

Add the pineapple juice and vanilla extract and beat well. Add the flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture and mix until well combined.

Fold in the egg whites using a metal spoon or rubber spatula.

Pour the batter evenly over the fruit, and smooth off with a spatula.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a blunt knife around the edge of the cake to loosen. Invert carefully onto a plate; the juices will run out. Serve warm with cream or at room temperature.

This cake improves if left for a day for flavours to infuse.