In an effort to bake a better bread, I've been reading Alton Brown's I'm just Here for More Food - Food x Mixing + Heat = Baking.  In among the tidbits, techniques and tips is an intriguing pineapple upside-down cake recipe made in a cast-iron skillet.  Now, I often get the baking bug on weekends and figured this would be a great cure (despite the fact it uses an entire stick of butter and two cups of sugar - yikes!). 

Unfortunately a quick inventory of my pantry revealed no pineapple.  I always have pineapple!  But...I am pretty good with improvisation when it comes to cooking, so I started to look around.  I did happened to have three mangy apples on the counter left from a Christmas fruit basket and decided they would do quite nicely.  The recipe also called for pineapple juice, but having no pineapple also meant I had no pineapple juice.  Further scouting revealed that bottle of apple brandy!  Substitutions in hand, I proceeded with the, uh...pineapple (?) upside-down cake. 

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (Alton Brown recipe ala me)
-Preheat oven to 350.
-Melt 1 stick unsalted butter in cast-iron skillet.
-Add 1 cup (8ounces) brown sugar and stir until combined.
-Top with 3 peeled, quartered, cored and sliced apples tossed with 3T apple brandy.
-Combine 1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour, 1t baking powder, 1/4t salt. 
-Combine 3 large eggs, 5T apple brandy, 1 cup white sugar (7 ounces) and pour onto flour mixture. 
-Mix just until batter comes together.  Do not mix smooth.  Lumps are ok.
-Pour batter evenly over apples and bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
-Invert on large plate and eat.

This un-pineapple upside-down cake was so good, but it started me thinking about substitutions:

1. What can and can't one replace in a recipe and get away with it
2. Why does one makes recipe substitutions: allergies, health and diet concerns, and my favorite reasons - ingredient availibility and creativity
3. At what point does the recipe cease to be the recipe one started out to make.  (And, does it really matter?)

Stay tuned!

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