Sixteen days into age 18, and I have to tell you …

I’m not lovin’ it.

The big boy is reveling in his “I’m-an-adult-now” status. Every comment has a slight “could-you-be-so-stupid” tone. His sense of humor has pretty much disappeared.

I’d like to tell him the face he’s pulling is the same one he used to flash when he had a loaded diaper.

But I don’t. He’s growing up, testing those wings that will take him out of our suburban nest in a few months.

So I bake. I bake the old-fashioned cakes I loved as a child; cakes that put a little sweet and buttery goodness into that hulking 18 year old.

He’ll be gone soon, and I’ll miss him horribly.

In the meantime, I’ll let him spread his wings. (And keep stuffing his mouth with cake.)

pineapple cake

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (adapted from Thomas Keller’s “Ad Hoc At Home”

This cake comes together quickly. There’s no need to wash your mixer between making the paste and the cake. However, you do need to take some time to line your cake pan. Otherwise, you’ll have a tough time turning the cake upside down.

For the paste:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 heaping teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt

For the cake:

  • 1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1 14.5-ounce can pineapple rings in juice, well drained
  • 9 maraschino cherries, well drained

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper, and spray that as well. Set the pan aside.

In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, beat the butter, honey, sugar, vanilla and salt until lump-free and creamy.

Spoon the mixture onto the bottom of your cake pan. Using your fingers, spread it until you have a thin layer extending all the way to the pan’s edges. Set the pan aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.

Place the butter and sugar in your stand mixer. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy.

Add the vanilla and beat well.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Beat in the milk.

Add the flour mixture in three batches, beating on low after each addition. Remove the bowl from the mixer and give it a couple of stirs with a wooden spoon to make sure all the ingredients are incorporated. The batter will be very thick.

Pat the pineapple slices dry. Starting at the outside edges, lay them on the paste in your prepared pan, overlapping them slightly. Place a maraschino cherry in the middle of each pineapple ring.

Gently place the cake batter on top of the fruit and smooth it to the edges of your pan, being careful not to dislodge the pineapples and cherries.

Place the pan on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan to ensure even browning. Bake another 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool the cake for 20 minutes. Then run a knife around its edges and carefully turn it out on a plate. Peel away the parchment. Serve immediately or wait until you need to change an adolescent mood.

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