Photograph by Gentl and Hyers Food Styling by Maggie Ruggiero Prop Styling by Angharad Bailey

The Stepford Wives and Diary of a Mad Housewife

Pineapple Blackberry Upside-Down Cake

Desserts from Issue 9 – Summer 2016 – The 1970s

Joanna (Katharine Ross in The Stepford Wives) and Tina (the wonderful Carrie Snodgress in Diary of a Mad Housewife) are housewives on the verge. After her husband moves the family from New York to Connecticut, Joanna senses that something is amiss in bucolic Stepford. Turns out the women—a Gunne Sax-clad bunch who live to clean, cook, and dote on their chauvinistic partners (“She cooks as good as she looks,” one chortles)—are, in fact, too perfect: they’re robots. Tina could relate; her husband, one of the most patronizing pigs to ever grace the big screen, treats her like a robot whose sole duties are housework and “rolls in the hay.” Our pineapple blackberry upside-down cake, buttery and anise-laced, nods to the backwards conditions both women had to contend with.

serves 8 to 10

  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter plus more for greasing pan
  • 2 tsp anise seeds
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 6 or 7 (¼-inch thick) slices fresh or canned cored pineapple
  • 6 oz blackberries (about 1 cup)

  • 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ¼ sticks (10 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter the sides of a 9-inch round cake pan.

  • 2

    Make the fruit layer: Melt the butter in a microwave or small pan with anise seeds then let stand 15 minutes. Re-warm and strain through a fine mesh sieve into the cake pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar over evenly. Crowd pineapple slices in pan, trimming as needed, then sprinkle with blackberries.

  • 3

    Make the cake: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.

  • 4

    With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter with the granulated sugar in a medium mixing bowl until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour mixture until just combined.

  • 5

    Spoon the batter over the fruit layer then spread evenly with an offset spatula or spoon. Bake the cake until golden and top springs back to the touch, 30 to 35 minutes.

  • 6

    Let cake cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes before carefully inverting onto rack or serving plate.