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FOOD : Fresh-Fruit Formula : A New Twist in Upside-Down Cake From Cookbook Author Lee Bailey

July 24, 1988

NO ONE WHO knows Lee Bailey would exactly call him a homebody, but this prolific cookbook author and food fancier really does likes good home cooking that is simple and simply delicious. "People really must get away from trying to do restaurant food at home," Bailey said recently as he talked about his latest culinary tome, "Lee Bailey's Country Desserts" (Clarkson N. Potter Inc.: $19.95).

This newest of Bailey's books is filled with recipes that reflect the author's substantial interest in sweets with nostalgic overtones. There are wonderful, old-fashioned cobblers; rich, homemade ice creams and ices; pies with names such as chess, rhubarb and chocolate cream--all those favorites that bring back happy childhood memories fill the pages of this book.

Some of the recipes, however, have interesting twists. The following, for instance, uses fresh pineapple--in place of the tried-and-true canned pineapple that earlier generations had to settle for--in an otherwise elegantly uncomplicated and appetizing upside-down cake.

As Bailey says in his book, "Once you taste this light version of the classic pineapple cake, you will never use canned pineapple again."

FRESH PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons dark rum

1 small, ripe pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into at least 8 rings

8 to 12 pecan halves

Cake Layer

Combine butter, brown sugar and rum in 11-inch cast-iron skillet. Place skillet in oven heated to 350 degrees and bake 7 to 10 minutes or until butter and sugar are melted. Mix well. Arrange pineapple rings in bottom of skillet as tightly as possible. Cut some in half, if necessary, to cover surface. Place pecan halves, rounded sides down, in center of each ring. Set aside.

Prepare Cake Layer batter and pour over pineapple in skillet. Smooth top of batter. Bake at 350 degrees 40 to 45 minutes or until cake is deep golden brown and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake thoroughly on rack, then turn out onto serving plate. Makes 8 to 12 servings.

Cake Layer

2 cups sifted cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup pineapple juice

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar in bowl of electric mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add dry mixture a little at a time, beating until well incorporated. (Mixture will be stiff at this point.) Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and pineapple juice and beat well.

Food styled by Mary-Ann Parshall; prop styling by RoseMary Aguayo

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