One of my favorite Italian food bloggers was Silva Rigobello. Unfortunately I have to write in past tense, as she passed away in 2015. I still prepare her recipes from time to time, and in this case it is a pineapple and coconut cake that is more American in origin than Italian. I wish she could have seen this post, but perhaps her husband Lino will get some comfort out of seeing this. I’ve made a few changes to Silva’s recipe, as I made the cake round instead of rectangular, I used coconut cream instead of butter, and I omitted the cherries. The result is a bit like piña colada, and it is very good.
For 8 servings
150 grams (1 cup) cake flour
100 grams (1 1/2 cup) dessicated coconut, plus more for garnish
100 grams (1/2 cup) coconut cream
175 grams (1/2 cup + 6 Tbsp) cane sugar, divided
2 Tbsp dark rum
1 Tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt
coconut oil or butter to grease the pan
Cut the pineapple into slices of about 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick. You will need 7 slices. Use pastry cutters to cut out the tough inner stem…
…as well as trim the outside.
This way you will get perfectly round slices.
A set of round pastry cutters of varying diameters is a very handy tool to own.
Make sure the pineapple slices fit in the tart pan that you will use. I used a 27 cm (11 inch) glass tart pan, for which I had to use a slice with a smaller diameter for the center. As you can see I cut one slice into five chunks to fill up the gaps in between the five outer slices.
Grate the zest of a lime and reserve.
Put 75 grams (6 Tbsp) of cane sugar in a frying pan that is wide enough to contain all of the pineapple slices in a single layer. Add just enough freshly squeezed lime juice (from the lime you just zested) to dissolve the sugar, about 1 1/2 tablespoons.
Bring to a boil and stir carefully until the sugar starts to turn brown.
When that happens, add the pineapple in a single layer and cook over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes.
Then carefully turn the pineapple slices to cook them on the other side as well. The pineapple should be golden but it should not be falling apart.
In the meantime, cut a circle of oven paper that is the size of your tart pan, and put it on the bottom. Grease the sides with coconut oil (or butter).
Arrange the pineapple slices on the parchment paper and drizzle all of the caramel sauce from the pan on top.
Turn over the pineapple slices so that the caramel sauce is now at the bottom.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
In a food processor combine 3 eggs, 150 grams of cake flour, 100 grams of dessicated coconut, 100 grams of cane sugar, 100 grams of coconut cream, the lime zest, a pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons of rum, and a tablespoon of baking powder. There is no need to worry about adding the ingredients in any particular order.
Process until the batter is smooth and homogeneous.
Pour the batter on top of the pineapple, without moving the pineapple.
Smoothen the top with a spatula if needed.
Bake for 45 minutes at 180C/350F, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool down.
When it has cooled, put a large flat plate on top…
…turn it around…
…and remove the pan and the oven paper. The cake is now ready to be served.
Sprinkle with dessicated coconut before serving.
This is really nice with a special dessert wine from the Roussillon in the south of France on the Mediterranean side near the border with Spain: Rivesaltes Hors d’Age. This is a fortified wine made from grenache blanc that is aged in wooden barrels for a long time. Different vintages are mixed so there is no exact age, but “hors d’age” means that it is very old. The long aging in wood gives the wine the aroma of coconut, which works very well with this cake.