Grandma Tilly’s Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

May 15th, 2015


Dog people / cat people; cilantro / no cilantro; bikini / tankini / no-kini – there are a lot important preferences in this world but I discovered a new one recently: those who think pineapple upside-down cake is antiquated, disgusting, extinct even / those who find it to be the most fantastic thing either side of the Mississippi.

Our magical god-mother, Kristen, arrived to Hannah’s Easter party this year with a pineapple upside-down cake in-hand and changed my life forever. I spent much of the party saddled up to the dessert table eating the cake straight off the platter (my apologies… or rather #sorrynotsorry, that’s still a thing, right?). I had been converted and knew right then-and-there I had to make it for my husband’s upcoming birthday. When I told Kristen this she explained that her grandma Tilly had made Kristen’s father that very same cake every year for his birthday. Well, dear reader, I smell a new tradition in my house and it smells like rightside-up cake. And on the 8th day, God said, “please save me a piece of that cake.”

Since this is Kristen’s recipe I decided to pay homage to her by actually organizing my ingredients before I began; usually I am a wild gal with a bag of flour in a wet sink trying desperately to find baking powder while balancing bowls on top of bowls and trying to listen to my girl Lynne Rossetto Kasper talk about lard bread and latin-chinese-polish fusion desserts on my Splendid Table podcast… Kristen’s way is obviously better.


  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tall can of pineapple rings, or one fresh pineapple
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees – melt butter with brown sugar in cast iron skillet in the oven.

2. Separate yolks from whites and add a dash of salt to the whites.

3. Cream white sugar and egg yolks.

4. Sift or whisk flour and baking powder. Add the yolk and sugar mixture alternately with the egg whites, and 1/4 cup of pineapple slush (liquid and pineapple left over in the can mushed up).

5. Lay pineapples on top of brown sugar and butter mixture. Add berries if you wish to the center of the pineapples.

6. Dollop/spread batter into the pan and bake for roughly 30 minutes. DON’T OVER BAKE!!!

We were without a proper camera on the cake’s big day – many apologies. She was prettier than this in real life, but always remember that it’s whats on the inside that really counts: sugar and flour and butter and all that crazy stuff.

And thank you to Kristen’s grandma Tilly – who here looks like a Pineapple Cake Angel.



May 3rd, 2013

My baby sister, Carrie Crowell, is my favorite person on earth. She is beautiful, hilarious, and brilliant in the kitchen. She and her friend Matt Porter have a show/blog called Big City Grits and I live for each new episode. In this particular one, they make Fried Chicken & Hot Sauce. It’s a must see!

For Fried Chicken:

One whole chicken, cut up
3 cups flour, divided
4 cups buttermilk
Salt & pepper to taste
For Hot Sauce

250g (about 2 cups) freshly chopped red chillies
500ml (about 2 cups) white wine vinegar
500g (about 1 pound) white sugar
1 large nugget fresh peeled grated ginger

Boil the chopped chill with sugar, ginger, and vinegar for 15-20 minutes until a syrupy consistency is achieved
Cover chicken in coating of flour, then put all the coated chicken into a large bowl of buttermilk. Keep in refrigerator overnight.
Combine left over flower with salt and pepper and coat each piece of chicken in the mixture.
Fry chicken in peanut oil at medium to high heat until cooked through.



May 3rd, 2013


I was not raised in a typical Southern home. There was no fried chicken or biscuits and gravy to be found. We mostly existed on brown rice, tofu and steamed vegetables. I pretty much hated my culinary childhood. When we would visit my grandparents or our family in Kentucky, I got introduced to the glorious world of true Southern cooking and an unbridled love of coconut cake was born. My Aunt Tippie served hers with boiled custard and my Grandparents never had a family function without Miss Leetha’s famous coconut cake. My sisters and I would fill our plates and stow away in the laundry room, far from our mother’s watchful eye and eat our selves into diabetic comas. In my adult life, I have been on a mission to find the perfect recipe… and at last it has  been found. Our dearest adopted family member, Kristen deLauer, gave me this recipe a few years ago and I kid you not, it has made me the most popular woman in Nashville. Perhaps I exaggerate slightly, and at times I fear the party invitations are extended solely based upon my willingness to bring said cake, but I digress. Point being, this cake is crazy good. Thank you, Kristen!!

Kristen’s coconut cake at my daughter’s 5th birthday