Servings: Makes an 8-inch cake
For the cake
4 ounces (113 grams) unsalted butter plus more for the pan
6 ounces (170 grams) granulated sugar
7 ounces (200 grams) almond flour
2 ounces (55 grams) shredded unsweetened coconut
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon medium-grained kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Seeds scraped from a vanilla bean
For the fruit
5 ounces (150 grams) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons agave syrup
1/8 teaspoon medium-grained kosher salt
Approximately 1 pound (454 grams) peeled pineapple, from about 1 medium whole fruit
1 vanilla bean
Ice cream or crème fraîche
Preheat oven to 325 F (160 C), with a rack in the lower third. Grease an 8-inch-by-3-inch cake tin with butter and line the base with parchment paper. Butter the parchment. Melt the 4 ounces of butter in a saucepan over low heat. Set aside to cool.
While the butter cools, prepare the fruit. Set a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle sugar across the bottom of the pan in an even layer. Pour 2 tablespoons water around the edge of the pan, then swirl pan to dampen the sugar. Set over medium heat and bring to a boil, swirling the pan occasionally. Once it boils, stop swirling and let the sugar take on colour, five minutes or so. Swirl the pan again, gently, to spread the colour around. Boil until fully amber, probably five minutes more and pull the pan off the heat. Carefully pour in the rum – fair warning, it will sputter violently and then briefly seize. Return the pan to the heat and swirl to smooth everything out. Once liquid again and the sputtering dissipates, take the pan off the heat again, swirl in the agave and salt. Pour the caramel mixture into the prepared pan, then place in the freezer for five minutes. (The bottom of the pan will be hot, so do not place it on top of anything that might melt.)
Split the vanilla bean down its length with the tip of a small, sharp knife. Scrape the seeds into a bowl and reserve them for the cake. Place the bean on top of the chilled caramel. Slice the pineapple 1/6-inch thick and arrange in an even layer covering the caramel, overlapping slightly.
In a food processor with the metal blade attached, grind the granulated sugar and almond meal together for 30 seconds. Pulse in the coconut, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.
With the machine on, add the eggs through the feed tube, running only until incorporated. They needn’t be fully combined. Turn the machine off and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stir the almond extract and seeds scraped from the vanilla bean into the melted butter. Pour this over the contents of the processor, reaffix the lid and pulse to blend.
Spoon batter onto pineapple, smoothing the top. Bake in the hot oven until top is evenly golden and a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. The cake can be served warm, turned out of its pan after 15 minutes.
As the cake is best after it sits, the preference is to let it cool completely in its pan, cover and refrigerate; for a few hours and up to overnight. When ready to serve, bring back to room temperature on the counter or rewarm in a low (around 200 F) oven. Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan, flip to unmold, remove the parchment and serve with ice cream, toasted coconut flakes and ground pistachios.