Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

This 70-year-old recipe is my grandmother's. It's everything you expect a classic pineapple upside-down cake to be: light, moist, and sticky sweet. 

Makes 8 servings

1/2 cup butter (8 tablespoons)
1 cup brown sugar
1 (20-ounce) can sliced pineapple
6 maraschino cherries
a few whole pecans
1 cup flour, sifted*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons pineapple juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Add butter to a 9-inch-round baking pan, and place inside of a warm oven until melted, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the butter. Add 6 pineapple slices and place a cherry inside of each one. Fill in the nooks and crannies with whole pecans.

In a medium bowl, combine sifted flour, baking powder and salt, and stir.

Using a hand mixer, in a metal or glass bowl, beat egg whites at high speed until fluffy. Set aside.

In a separate bowl beat egg yolks with sugar at medium speed until creamy. Add pineapple juice, and vanilla extract, and beat well. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, and beat until well combined. Fold in the egg whites with a rubber spatula. Pour cake mixture evenly over the fruit, and smooth with the spatula.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert carefully onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Note: Sifting the flour creates a lighter cake.