Pineapples, Cake and Poetry

The Long Way Home : A Pineapple’s Journey

Too long
Pineapple clung
to the juices she was born with.

Though she tried to hide the seep of syrup
from the rot of flesh
that cracked her armor.

She knew no magic pill,
nor painless shortcut
could extend
her shelf life
any further.

And the only place that she could turn to

was the long road
to the lonely field.

Giving up the crown
she had held so high
upon her head,

she replanted herself
in the unknown soils,

and then began to wait …

Slowly
slowly
she replaced her fibers
with those that grew in the nutrient earth.

The veining roots brought green to stems
and blossomed the fruit within her core.

Still,
she remained,
while she rose from the ground —
fresh and full of wonder

at the sun
and the rain
and the stars
and their music
that echoed the song inside her.

Her skin turned gold with the honeyed dawn —
it’s sweetness gave off
a newfound fragrance.

And she glowed from within
with the light she’d unearthed :

a harvest
found buried in darkness.


I am completely AMAZED by pineapples! I had no idea how fascinating they were until I saw an actual pineapple plant for the first time: a miniature version of itself suspended atop a single stem, growing from the ground. How ridiculously adorable and miraculous that such a complex fruit is created this way!

Look at this tiny cutie!! 😍🍍

Here are some pineapple facts that have been blowing my mind recently:

  • One plant produces only one pineapple fruit per season.
  • Most species of pineapples take 24 months to reach maturity. That’s right, one pineapple from one plant takes two years to grow!
  • To grow a new pineapple plant you can simply twist off and replant the crown of a mature pineapple fruit.
  • The pineapple plant flowers with hundreds of little “fruitlets” that fuse together and become one fruit.
  • Once the pineapple ripens and the fruit is harvested, it stops ripening and its short shelf life begins quickly ticking away. So how you purchase the pineapple from the store is as ripe as it will ever be. It is only rotting at that point.
  • Although pineapples have become a symbol of Hawaiian agricultural, and Hawai’i is the only US state that grows them, they are not native to the Islands. They were introduced only in 1813.

🙃 I have always loved pineapple upside-down cake and wanted to try making one with fresh pineapple, instead of the traditional canned pineapple, most recipes call for.

This pineapple was grown right down the road from my house at the Maui Tropical Plantation. The fruit itself tasted like heaven, so I knew whatever was made with it would be divine!

This is a recipe I have adapted from many recipes and I am very happy with the outcome. The fresh pineapple caramelizes nicely with no overflow on the topping and the cake is dense and moist. Not only is this cake delicious, but the combination of spices and fresh pineapple makes your home incredibly fragrant when it is baking and after!

Fresh Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Ingredients

Topping:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
5-8 fresh pineapple slices (or 8-10 canned pineapple slices)
Maraschino cherries (to decorate with as you wish)

Cake:

1 and 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp table salt)
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
6 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg whites at room temperature
1/3 cup full fat Greek yogurt at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk (or half and half), at room temperature

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
  2. Prepare topping:
    • Cut and up fresh pineapple into rings.
    • Pour melted butter into an ungreased 9×2 inch pie dish or round cake pan.
    • Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter.
    • Blot all excess liquid off the fruit with a paper towel and pineapple slices and cherries on top of the brown sugar.
    • Place pan in the refrigerator for a few minutes to set while you prepare the cake batter.
  3. Prepare cake batter:
    • Whisk cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom and cinnamon together. Set aside.
    • Mix the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 min. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until creamed together, about 1 min, scraping down the sides as needed.
    • On high speed, beat in the egg whites until combined, then beat in the Greek yogurt and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed.
    • Slowly our the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Turn mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the milk. Beat on low speed just until all of the ingredients are combined. Do not over-mix.
  4. Remove topping from the refrigerator. Pour and spread cake batter evenly over topping.
  5. Bake for 43-48 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out mostly clean.
  6. Remove cake from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Invert the slightly cooled cake onto a cake stand or serving plate.

Pineapple Wine

Over a glass of pineapple wine
thoughts of you float to the surface,

sweetly swirling in my mind
as hours sip —
lick drips from the rim

and I smile
thinking how time is an ineffective metric

when you’ve fallen in love with a soul.


Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Lemon bars + poetry

A lemon’s role

So quickly
Lemon learned
she would never get the lead …

Her role was always
supporting
with a zest
or a squeeze.

She had accepted
her career as :
“the faintest essence”
or “the tasteful garnish.”

In the business of
breakfast, lunch and dinner
she was always
the slice of bitter
on the dish.

But then
she learned
she could be
a star

in changing courses
to desserts.

As “The Lemon Bar”
or “The Lemon Cake”

she found
her purpose in life
was to celebrate!


I have always had a super soft spot in my heart for lemon. It is, without a doubt, my favorite dessert flavor! 🍋

Although I find excuses to have lemon desserts all year long, with summer now just around the corner, it is the perfect time to bake lemon bars!

This lemon bar recipe is one that I have adapted from my neighbor, Melanie’s, family cookbook. She truly makes the best lemon bars I have eaten in my life, so I didn’t change very much from her original recipe. I even got the beautiful lemons to make these bars from the Meyer Lemon Tree in her backyard.

Lemon Bars

Time: 55 min.
Yield: 12 bars

Crust

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 stick softened butter at room temperature

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all crust ingredients into mixing bowl
  3. Beat on low speed, scraping sides of bowl, until mixture is crumbly (about 2-3 minutes).
  4. Press mixture onto the bottom of a 8X8 ungreased pan.
  5. Bake 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.

Filling

Ingredients:

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs room temperature
2 tbs all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
6 tbs fresh lemon juice (about two lemons)
1 tsp lemon zest

Directions:

  1. Combine filling ingredients into mixing bowl
  2. Beat on low speed, scraping down sides, until mixed well (1-2 minutes).
  3. Pour over hot crust.
  4. Continue baking for 18-20 minutes, or until filling is set.
  5. Let cool completely.
  6. Sprinkle top with sifted powdered sugar.

Lemon Tree

Every morning I climb
the steepest hill

with the remains
of my orchid’s fallen blooms

and those hibiscus
that softened
with rot
in my hair.

Their lives having amounted
to only the brevity
of my joy.

And I wonder
if they did or did not
have souls

as I lay them under the lemon tree.

And if they did,
but especially if not,

I pray that now, they may be
free.


Lemonade

I feel you
in the song of summer :

the buzz of honeybees
and hummingbirds
fill my chest

in a resonance
that lingers
long after
the guitar strums

and the bashful plucks
at blades of grass

under a tree of butterflies
and bittersweet fruit

your eyes shine
like nectar
in the blooms of shade …

when I think of your kiss :
like sunshine
and lemonade.


Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Cookies + Poetry

My thoughts are calculated,
measured and leveled;

carefully mixed
until words are formed.

Then rolled and shaped
with care in my palms,
I coat them in butter
and dip them in sugar.

Arranging my verses
on lined cookie sheets

I kiss them with chocolate
and bake them to eat!


Haikus

1. Devour the days
when kisses give you toothaches and
love’s the sweetest bake.

2. When following dreams
aprons may get dirty, but
results turn out sweet!


I love baking for my friends, family and music students! I wanted to incorporate a bit of this creative passion of mine into my blog.

The first recipe I will share with you has become my go-to for the classic chocolate chip cookie! After trying dozens of recipes, I truly believe this one to be the best (based how I prefer my cookies to be, of course.) Everyone has their favorite cookie texture and way to enjoy them. If you like your chocolate chip cookies to be super soft, fluffy and a little fudgy, you are going to LOVE these!

What makes these cookies so special is the use of cornstarch as a thickening agent. I originally learned about this addition from one of my favorite blogs, Sally’s Baking Addiction. It truly does make them extra thick and soft.

Notes

  • Chill your dough!
    • Chilling the prepared dough for at least an hour will create the thickest and most fluffy texture. You don’t want to skip this step.
  • Room temperature ingredients …
    • Eggs and butter mix more evenly at room temperature and give you the best textural results. It will take some thinking ahead. I try to leave my eggs and butter out of the fridge for a couple hours before starting to prepare the dough. If you don’t have that time, you can also place the egg in a bowl of room temperature water and and warm up the butter in small increments of time in the microwave (I’m talking 8 seconds at a time max. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve accidentally melted the butter and had to start over with a new stick. Yes, I’m that serious about the outcome of these cookies ha!)
  • Salt your sweets!
    • 1 tsp may seem like a lot of salt for a dessert, but believe me when I say the salt takes these cookies to a new level and amplifies the flavors. Of course, feel free to do less than this. I have tried it with 1/2 – 1 tsp and just prefer the more pronounced sweet & salty flavor.
  • Choose and vary your sugars wisely.
    • Brown sugar increases softness while white sugar helps cookies spread while baking. If you want thicker, doughier, chewier cookies, go for brown sugar. If you want more biscuit-like cookies, go for white sugar. This recipe uses a bit of both.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Yield: 2 dozen

Ingredients

¾ c. Room temperature butter (aprox. 65 degrees Fahrenheit)
¾ c. Dark brown sugar, packed
¼ c. Granulated sugar
1 lg. Egg, room temperature
2 tsp Pure vanilla extract
2 c. All-purpose flour
2 tsp Cornstarch
1 tsp Baking soda
1 tsp Kosher Salt (if you don’t have kosher salt substitute with 1/4 tsp table salt)
1 ¼ c. Chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Mix butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy. At least 2 minutes with mixer. Then, beat in egg and vanilla until combined.
  2. In separate bowl, whisk to combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Slowly combine dry mix into wet ingredients, while stirring, until dough forms. Add chocolate chips last.
  4. REFRIGERATE AT LEAST 1 HOUR. Covered in bowl.
  5. Remove dough from fridge. Allow to thaw on counter for 10 min. Before forming cookies.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 F. (I recommend lining a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone liner for most even bake.)
  7. Roll dough into balls (about 1.5 tbs at a time).
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until color on top/sides just starts to change.
  9. Optional: add extra chocolate chips on top of cookies right out of the oven. Just press them in.

Another cookie poem …

Sugar, butter
mixed & whipped

sift the flour
eggs are whisked

baking powder
chill the dough

It only takes a taste
to know

if it’s
good

there’s no resisting

chewy, gooey, cakey or crispy

When ovens ding
those angels sing

and I have to try
a fresh baked cookie!


I swear this is my last corny cookie poem (for now) ...

When I was little
it seemed so silly
that story, I mean,
about the mouse
and the cookie.

But now I see
there are
certain cookies
that will always
leave you wishing for
more
more
more!


Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke