How a Pro Chef Deliciously Reimagined Our 1963 Pineapple Cake Roll

Canned pineapple takes center stage in this episode of Then & Now. Watch to find out which dessert chef Alexis deBoschnek would ~roll~ with again.

A majority of the U.S. population has probably enjoyed a cake roll at some point in their lives—whether the classic Little Debbie treat or made from scratch, the dessert's sweet flavors always satisfy. In this episode of Then & Now, a video series celebrating 100 years of Better Homes & Gardens, chef Alexis deBoschnek prepares a retro version: our 1962 Pineapple Cake Roll from a vintage New Cook Book. She then creates her own modern take on the recipe (featuring some updated, perhaps more reliable baking techniques) and decides which she'd permanently add to the dessert table. Follow along to determine the pastry you think you'd prefer.

Pineapple Cake Roll
Shirley Cheng

Then: Pineapple Cake Roll

When she turns to the Pineapple Cake Roll recipe, Alexis finds it to be "kind of a wild ride." To make the batter, egg yolks are beaten until thick and lemon-colored before gradually adding sugar and vanilla. She then beats egg whites until soft peaks form, slowly incorporating sugar, and folds in the egg yolk mixture.

"Whenever a recipe calls for you to fold, you want to be really gentle to make sure everything becomes incorporated without deflating it," Alexis advises. Sifted cake flour, baking powder, and salt are added to the same bowl. It's then folded into the egg mixture, and she moves on to the filling.

The recipe instructs to bake the filling along with the batter (which sounds good in theory, Alexis says). She drains canned pineapple, spreading it onto an ungreased baking sheet. Next, she sprinkles on brown sugar and pours the batter on top. The cake goes into the oven, and when it comes out, it should "spring back and be light to the touch."

Once it's done baking, Alexis works quickly to prepare the cake for rolling. To prevent it from sticking, she dusts powdered sugar over a kitchen towel. she Alexis drops the tray onto the towel, gives it a few good pats, and pulls it off—to reveal that it's stuck. "Redo!" she says. After her second attempt, the cake comes out (mostly) in one piece. The texture is wet and seems on the verge of collapse, but it holds together.

Alexis tops the roll off with whipped cream and maraschino cherries once it's cooled and cuts a piece to taste. Ultimately, the flavor is unexpected. "I've honestly never had anything like it," she says. "It's hard to discern what is cake and what is pineapple."

The final verdict: Alexis loves the concept of baking the batter and filling together, but for success, you need another filling to adhere to it. The canned pineapple also gave it too much moisture.

Pineapple Galette
Shirley Cheng

Now: Pineapple Galette

Moving onto the modern take, Alexis confirms the recipe must be centered around pineapple and decides on a galette. "I love that they're inherently rustic," she explains. "They come together quickly; you can make them sweet or savory; you can use whatever fruit is in season."

To make the dough, she adds flour, salt, and pepper to a food processor. (Including pepper sounds slightly odd, but it adds warmth and spiciness without being too intense.) She pulses it a few times and throws in chunks of unsalted butter until they break down to about the size of a lima bean. Alexis then gradually adds a mixture of sour cream and cold water, which ensures a light and tender crust that's easy to roll out.

"You could also do this for pie dough," Alexis says. "It's basically the same thing, except a galette is free form." The dough chills in the fridge for about an hour (the longer the better). Before rolling it out, she sprinkles flour on her surface to keep it from sticking. You want to keep the dough in a round shape, about 14 inches in diameter, but don't worry about it being perfect. Once it's rolled out, it's transferred to a baking sheet lined with parchment.

The filling of the galette stars pineapple paired with caramel, because "caramel makes pretty much everything better," Alexis says. She melts butter on the stovetop, a technique that makes the sauce luscious and easily spreadable. Then she adds sugar and stirs continuously until the color darkens and everything becomes smooth. Once it comes together, salt and heavy cream are added and the caramel is removed from the heat. Alexis spreads it onto the galette dough and places slices of canned pineapple on top. She folds the dough around the filling, pinching the edges and moving all the way around.

To finish it off, Alexis brushes the dough with an egg wash and sprinkles on turbinado sugar for a visual effect. It then goes in the oven and comes out when the crust is golden brown and crisp. To garnish, she scoops on some whipped cream and boozy cherries. She takes a bite, and immediately expresses her love for the pineapple-caramel flavor combination. The whipped cream and cherries tie the whole thing together. "I really like that I used the canned fruit to pay homage to the pineapple cake roll from before," she says. "I think I'd make it again."

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