For me, Labor day has always conjured up feelings of nostalgia for a bygone era. I’m not one to criticize our present day culture and I’m under no delusion that things were ‘better in the old days’, but there is a certain grit and purpose to the way things were done in my grandparents generation that I can’t help but appreciate. They survived the Great Depression and World War II and that time period really informed the way they approached life and food and possessions.
My maternal grandmother, Winnie, passed away a couple months ago. We weren’t very close; sadly she suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) that most often alienated her from the people in her life, but I’m thankful that I was able to visit her before she died when I went home for the Minneapolis signing of My Paleo Patisserie.
Growing up, I didn’t understand the issues surrounding her mental illness but the one thing we always had in common was our love of baking, so I was pleased to inherit a number of items from her kitchen when she passed. To me, they represent the woman behind the veil; the mother and grandmother she would have wanted to be, and the one common thread that connected her to me.
When Sir Kensington’s contacted me about doing a Labor Day post, my thoughts immediately went to that Depression-era nostalgia and I knew I wanted to create a recipe that paid homage to that time period, and my grandmother. My initial instinct was to make a “Depression Chocolate Cake.” You see, during the Great Depression, fresh eggs and milk were in such short supply that people began making cakes that used mayonnaise or vegetable oil instead. Even after the Depression was over, the tradition of the chocolate mayo cake carried on and still holds its place in a small, retro corner of the cake baking catalog.
But being August in Texas, I also wanted to make something that was a little more fresh and vivacious because it’s just too dang hot here to be working with all those dark flavors and so I decided to make a pineapple upside down cake instead. I’ve always loved these cakes and it definitely was another favorite in my grandmothers day! Using mayo to replace the fat in the recipe results in that signature lovely cake texture that the chocolate mayo cakes are so well known for, but without the chocolate. I’ve also given it a slightly different spin with a “spiced cake”, of which the flavors marry beautifully with the added mayo. For the cherries, I used the more natural Tillen Farms Merry Maraschino cherries to finish off the cakes. You can find them at Whole Foods, online and other stores.
Speaking of Sir Kensington’s, the first time we ever tried it was in 2013. We were in Austin for PaleoFX and had headed over to Whole Foods to find something that we could eat. We grabbed a couple cans of tuna and some celery sticks and we needed some mayo to make an impromptu tuna salad. Scanning the various options, we both randomly settled on Sir Kensington’s little square jar because the ingredients were clean and we both liked the packaging (it’s usually about the packaging with us.)
When we sat down to eat we were both blown away, not only by the fact that it tasted so good, but especially by the fact that Ben actually liked it. You see, growing up, Ben’s house had a bit of a civil divide regarding mayo. The women of the family preferred actual mayo, while the men would only consume Miracle Whip in any application that required the use of mayo. Ben was a staunch supporter of this stance and had VERY begrudgingly surrendered this position when we chose to begin eating a natural diet. To his credit, Ben tried on several occasions to adjust to actual mayo but up to this point, his usual enthusiasm for what we were eating simply did not apply to things including mayo.
I’m pretty sure that we Instagrammed our first Sir Kensington’s shout-out right then and there and I know for a fact that we polished off that bottle with the remaining celery sticks, despite both our better judgements at eating a whole bottle of mayo in one sitting (to be fair…the bottles are pretty small).
At our next big, extended Hulet family shindig, we introduced everyone to our discovery and their responses were all equally enthusiastic. In fact, the next time we headed to our Whole Foods to pick some up, we were alarmed to find the shelves almost entirely emptied of this precious commodity….until we discovered that Ben’s mom was stockpiling the stuff because the family was going through it so fast. She even emailed Sir Kensington’s asking them to make a bigger bottle that was easier to clean out! (she was pleased to hear in response that they were just about to release their new 16oz jar, which you can find at Whole Foods.)
So…insider tip: if you live in the Mid-Cities area of DFW and you’re looking for some Sir Kensington’s mayo but can’t find any at Whole Foods….just call Susan Hulet….she probably has it all. 🙂
I also couldn’t help throwing in a bonus recipe that’s one of our family favorites because it’s just so dang good. These Shaken, Sriracha Mayo Sweet Potatoes are the perfect addition to you Labor Day cookout and I know you’re going to love them.
All that to say, doing a Labor Day post that features Sir Kensington’s is not only something that I would gladly do on my own, it’s also the perfect occasion to honor the spirit of the generations that have gone before us and the foundation that they laid for us to have the life we enjoy today.
I hope you enjoy these recipes and get to have a great holiday with your family and friends!
Pineapple Spiced Upside Down Cake
6 canned pineapple slices (I like THIS brand or Whole Foods)
About 1 tablespoon coconut sugar or maple sugar
2 tablespoon Ghee or other baking fat, plus more for greasing
For the cake:
60g (1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons) coconut flour (I use THIS brand)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Slightly rounded 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
5 large U.S. size eggs
1/3 cup Sir Kensington’s Classic Mayo
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
Garnish: Any whipped cream you like (dairy or coconut) and Tillen Farms Maraschino cherries.
Equipment Needed: I used THIS Nordicware 6-well bundt pan. Each “well” is 1 3/4″ high and 3 1/2″ wide. For the Cake version you will need a standard 9 inch round cake pan.
Preheat oven to 350°F, then drain the pineapple and using a flour sack towel or paper towel, pat the excess moisture out of the pineapple. This will help keep the cake from getting soggy later. Set aside.
Rub about 1/2 teaspoon or more of fat into the bottom of each mini bundt mold. Don’t spread it all over the mold, just the bottom part where the pineapple will touch. Alternatively you could use a more liquid fat, such as coconut oil or melted fat. However, I like to use a solid fat here as it distributes the sugar well and tends to keep the pineapple from turning too brown when baking. But that is just preference. Once the fat is added, sprinkle just the greased areas evenly with about 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Try to avoid getting sugar on other areas of the pan, as this will make the cake more likely to stick later.
Place one slice of pineapple at the bottom of each mold. Position it so it is centered nicely and gently push it into the bottom of the pan. Using a flour sack or paper towel, wipe of any sugar that got on the pan, above the pineapple. Then grease the pan above the pineapple.
To make the cake: In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, spices and baking soda to combine. Set aside. Then in a separate, large bowl, whisk together the eggs, mayo, honey and vanilla till well combined.
Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and whisk till smooth and no lumps are left. Let the batter rest for a few minutes. It will thicken slightly and resemble a pancake batter.
Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, pour batter into each pan over the pineapple slices. Clean up any batter that doesn’t belong then bake for 20- 25 minutes, or until the cakes are golden and springs back when gently pressed at the center. Check after 15 minutes of baking to see where it is at, as ovens and pans can cause the baking times to vary.
When done, remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes. Then carefully use a thin knife to help pull the edges of the cake away from the pan. Be careful not to cut into the cake or scratch the pan. Place a wire rack over the pan and flip it over so the cakes can release onto the rack. They probably won’t release immediately so give the pan a knock or two. You can also use a wooden spoon to tap the tops and edges of the bundt molds to help release the cakes. Let the cakes cool.
To serve: Place the cakes on the dish you plan to serve them on, spoon or pipe in a dairy or coconut whipped cream (sweetened if desired) and top with a cherry.
To Make a Cake: This is by far the simplest version of this recipe. Using a standard 9 inch cake pan, spread about 1/4 cup butter or fat over the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar (Yes, more fat and sugar than the bundt cakes call for.) Lay 6 drained and patted dry pineapple slices into the pan. Arranging five in an outer circle and one in the center. You will need to maneuver them till they fit nicely. Place a cherry at the center of each pineapple slice.
Prepare the batter as instructed above and pour into the pan. Spread evenly over the pineapple. Bits of cherry will likely peek through. This is fine ,as the cake will rise above them when it bakes. Bake in the oven 25-30 minutes or until evenly golden and the center springs back when pressed gently. Once it’s done baking, remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Place your serving plate or wire rack on top of the cake and flip it over onto the plate/rack. Let cool completely and serve.
Shaken, Sriracha Mayo Sweet Potatoes
2 1/4 pounds Sweet Potatoes* (2 pounds once cut and trimmed)
1/2 cup Sir Kensington’s Classic Mayo
2 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
*I used white sweet potatoes but any will do. It is important to note that the different variations of sweet potatoes will have different boiling times. Keep and eye on them and boil till they can just be pierced through.
Preheat oven to 400°F and bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Cut the sweet potatoes into 1 1/2 inch to 2 inch squares. Trim off the ends as needed if they get too small. Once the water is boiling, carefully add the potatoes to the boiling water and cook till they can just be pierced through. If they get to soft then they will just fall apart at the nest stage. The times for this will vary from 5-15 minutes, depending on the potato variation. Once ready, pour into a strainer.
Transfer to a very large bowl, then pick up the bowl and shake it vigorously. This will cause the edges of the potatoes to round off and the outsides to be coated in loose potato, thus making them deliciously crispy once baked. Leave them to cool to room temp.
In another bowl, whisk together the mayo, Sriracha, garlic and ghee till combined. Toss the cooled potatoes with the mixture till evenly coated, then pour the potatoes onto a large baking sheet. Try to spread them out as much as possible, as the less they touch, the crispier they will get all around. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and bake for about 1 hour or till super crispy. Long baking times mean “crispy” so don’t rush it. But keep an eye on them to so they don’t burn. It is helpful to flip the potatoes over in the last 15 minutes of baking to ensure even browning. especially if you have a crap oven like me!
We like to sprinkle on bacon bits before serving ours, but you can serve however you like. These can be made ahead of time, cooled and reheated in a 400°F oven till crispy.