The Fork

The Fork: Chef Spotlight: Jessica Brewer

Let’s make a Oaxacan-inspired pineapple upside down cake!

We’ve got some real good news this week, dear readers, and we think you’re gonna like it, even if it does amount to including a recipe, which we’ve heard you don’t always love. Tough, because we not only decided to get into the micro-film game (by which we mean making short films about food folks), Paloma pastry chef Jessica Brewer agreed to be the first subject of this grand new experiment.

So, not only is that cool because Brewer’s desserts are outta control (and because of the synergy found with running this piece the same week our editor reviewed Paloma), it’s cool because you’ll see some of the process, and she’s graciously agreed to share the recipe. Not only is this an item not yet on Paloma’s dessert list that Brewer dreamed up like a champion specifically for The Fork and our audience (being our mom and, like, a smattering of others), it’s easily one of the best cakes we’ve ever tasted. So watch the li’l movie here (shout-out to SFR’s Riley Gardner for taking the lead and helping to not divulge our super-secret identity), and catch the recipe below.

A quick note that we get how this recipe looks daunting, we get that, and you might not have all the required equipment. Still, we know how it went down at Paloma, and it’s so much easier than you’d think—and investing in a stand mixer is so so so so worth it. What, do you want to be stuck mixing cookie dough and cakes with a spatula your whole life?! Get real, vitamin-breath!

Was it one of the best cakes we’ve ever had? Yeah—if not THE best. Dang.

Oaxacan Roasted Pineapple Upside Down Cake

*One 9 inch cake (feeds 10-12)*

-Fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and sliced (for lining your pan)

-Luxardo cherries (for lining the pan)

-60g butter, melted

-100g dark brown sugar

-1 dried morita chile, toasted, optional

-322.5g bread flour

-35g corn starch

-237.5g sugar

-3/4 teaspoon baking powder, double acting (bonus points for aluminum free)

-1 teaspoon canela

-1/2 teaspoon allspice

-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

-1/4 teaspoon clove

-1/2 teaspoon salt

-1/2 cup marcona almonds, finely chopped

-1/4 cup Pinon Nuts, finely chopped

-113g Butter, softened

-30mL Oil (I always recommend using grapeseed to bake)

-4 eggs, room temperature

-2 yolks, room temperature

-1 Tablespoon Mexican vanilla

-240mL buttermilk, room temperature

1. Set the temperature of your oven to 350 degrees and ensure your rack is placed in the center of your oven. Your pan should be at least 2″ deep for this recipe.

2. Melt the butter over low heat, if you want to add a little kick, add the toasted morita chile to the butter as it melts, and allow to steep for five minutes over low heat.

3. Remove the chile, if using, and pour into a pan sprayed with non-stick spray. I have anxiety, so I double coat all my pans in one way or another.

4. Using a clean and dry pastry brush, brush the oil along the sides of the pan. Sprinkle your brown sugar in the pan and spread out around the butter.

5. Place your pineapple rings in the pan, starting from the center, or whatever pattern you would like. Follow up with luxardo cherries, creating any sort of design you wish. Make tons of triangles instead of rings. Make a pineapple arrangement that kinda looks like your dog. Get weird with it.

6. In a bowl, sift together the bread flour, corn starch, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove, and salt.

7. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. DO. NOT. SKIP. THIS. STEP. Why? Creaming your sugar helps to create volume and structure of your baked goods by incorporating more air into your batter, and helps to evenly dissolve (and distribute) your sugar. Since there is such a thing as “over creaming,” keep your aerating to no more than 3 minutes, making sure to scrape the bowl down at least once partway through to ensure all of the sugar gets distributed through the mix.

8. Add the oil and vanilla, and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl and add eggs one at a time, scraping between each two eggs, and ensure that you fully incorporate the eggs before moving on.

9. Combine the nuts in a separate bowl, and mix in a couple tablespoons of your flour mixture, tossing to coat. This will help keep the nuts evenly distributed through the cake while it bakes, rather than sinking.

10. Alternate your flour mix and buttermilk into your creamed sugar/egg mix, starting with dry, and ending with wet. Again, scrape your bowl down, and ensure the mixture is fully incorporated. The trick to a good cake is making sure ALL of your ingredients are evenly incorporated. I use buttermilk in all of my recipes containing DA Baking Powder, because this type of baking powder has two types of acids in it that react at two separate times during the baking process. Since we need an acidic liquid to activate the second reaction in order to create a finished product with lots of volume and an ultimately fluffy crumb, we use buttermilk, which falls on the pH scale at a 4.4-4.8. For comparison, “regular” milk is around 6.7-6.9. Without using a more acidic liquid, we won’t get those tasty carbon dioxide bubbles we want so badly when baking cakes.

11. Add your nuts to the batter and FOLD in.

12. Fill the pan with batter, about halfway up.

13. Place pan in the center rack, and bake for at least 20 minutes, making sure to rotate the pan halfway through. Much like a grill, all ovens are different, with their own cute and unique hot and cold spots. Your cake is done when a toothpick draws clean from the center. If this does not happen within the 20 minutes, bake in additional 2 minute increments.

14. Remove, and allow to cool for 20 minutes before you flip out of the pan onto a serving platter.

For a finishing touch, I sprinkle a very small amount of granulated sugar onto the pineapples, and blast it to caramelize it with my blow torch.

Enjoy! :)

Diamonds? Pearls?! Nay!!!!


-The Santa Fe Farmer’s Market Institute named two new board members this week—Christine Castro and Robert W Jones. Both have scads of business experience and are clearly looking to get in on the good carrots early. But that’s not all, friendos (friendsos?) as the org will celebrate lady farmers all through this Women’s History Month in addition to all the good stuff you can get over there. Yeah!

-Do you know about the upcoming New Mexico Wine Fest taking place Memorial Day Weekend? That’s May 28-30, which we know is a bit away, but we understand there are a number of reduced-price early bird tickets available. We can’t promise they’ll still be there for you, but if you’s the site. If you need something sooner, the Chocolate & Coffee Fest hits Expo New Mexico on April 2 and 3.

-Word on the street is that SFR fave Palacio Café and SFR not fave (but not least fave) Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill (where, a reader tells us, you can now find an anti-Biden photo at the cash register) have both applied for booze permits. Bless ‘em and may those looking for booze and burritos find that their dreams have come true.

-And that’s it. We think you’ll find the news sections pared down until someone apologizes to us for trashing on the value or our former long-ass newsletters.

We typed the word Bumble Bee, so...there’s your connection. God.

More Tidbits

-In case you hadn’t heard, it’s likely we’ll face an avocado shortage at some point. This is terrible news, indeed, and you can learn a little more right here.

-What are the best fast food chains in America? None, says this casual observer (oh, no...we just referred to ourself in the singular!), but according to this piece, there are many of them. Huh. Weird. That said, we do still kind of want to try those Beyond chicken tendies at KFC.

-Here, make a Shamrock Shake at home, you bunch of McDonald’s obsessed nerds. Do y’all just, like, mark your calendars for the return of the McRib? Gawd-uh!

-A booze thief in San Jose (that’s in California) absconded with a pricy bottle of cognac, but was caught on camera, it seems. Sad news for the Mount Hamilton Grandview Restaurant, a place named like the rich kid summer camp on the other side of the lake. Naw, but don’t steal, probably.

-And that’s it. Oh, sure, other stuff happened, but you cut deep, dear readers. Real deep. HAHAHA! Do you like how we specifically asked you for feedback and then spent the last several weeks just whining about it? It’s hard to be us, furreal.

A Totally Scientific Breakdown of The Fork’s Correspondence

It’s just a real Paloma kind of week around here, but to be fair, those fish tacos do sound incredible.

Number of Letters Received


*Folks like to learn about National Days.

Most Helpful Tip of the Week (a barely edited letter from a reader)

“How could you?”

*We just did.

Actually Helpful Tip(s)

“My Jewish mother-in-law told me that chicken soup is made by dropping a fresh, rinsed, small chicken in a big pot of water, throwing in some carrots, celery and onion, and boiling it for a couple of hours. Ba-boom.”

*We think she sounds smart, dearest reader Marina L. Thank you!


The Fork

Letters to the Editor

Mail letters to PO Box 4910 Santa Fe, NM 87502 or email them to editor[at] Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.

We also welcome you to follow SFR on social media (on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and comment there. You can also email specific staff members from our contact page.