1950's South Pacific Cruise Liner: Part 2

July 10, 2018

Summer is finally here! Whenever I think of summer, I instantly think of summer vacation. I mean how could you not? In elementary school, my brother and I would count down the days until it was summer vacation.

 

Vacation doesn’t necessarily mean an exotic trip. There have been plenty of times I have had my own little getaway right at home. As long as there is sunshine and a cool drink in my hand, I am in heaven. So what is my favorite part of being on vacation? The food! Food is everything to me. I know, we need it to survive but it goes way deeper than that. First of all, I love to visit the local spots anywhere I go. I never judge a book by its cover. If you tell me the shack at the edge of town has the best burgers, I am there. I also love to try new flavors and new dishes. For example, if I had been a guest on the S.S. Lurline 60 years ago, I would have tried everything once.  What is the S.S. Lurline? It's this luxurious cruise liner from 1958 that sailed from California to Hawaii, Fiji, and even Australia. Earlier this year, I found some menus from a voyage that dates back to May 23, 1958. These are not your average menus. On each cover is a beautiful watercolor print of the different destinations the cruise liner sailed. They caught my eye and the featured entrees have been inspiring me since. If you missed 1958 Cruise Liner Series: Part 1 you can check it out here.

 

This cruise must have been the trip of a lifetime in the 1950's. From looking at these menus, even the food was first class. Something that fascinates me about cruise ships is they have to plan enough food for not just the guests but the crew too. According to Krantz and Fobians, “To Honolulu In Five Days,” this ship carried 725 passengers and 425 crew members. The necessary provisions for a 10 day round trip included:

     - 3,600 dozen eggs

     - 272 pounds of pasta

     - 382 gallons of ice cream

     - 27,059 pounds of fresh vegetables

 

A dinner menus would typically consist of eight or more entrees and 50-60 individual items. I cannot imagine the planning of all those different meals for so many people. I have a hard enough time doing my weekly meal prep for my family. Then you have to consider the execution of everything. Getting everyone seated and fed and out the door so you could begin the next meal. Dinner on the Lurline was not a quick casual affair. Krantz and Fobian mention that the evening meal was the most memorable event on the ship. The tables would be decorated with the finest linen, china, and silver. The dining room wasn’t the only thing festive for the occasion. Men went to dinner wearing dinner jackets and escorted ladies wearing glamorous gowns. After dinner, the guests would spend the evening dancing the night away until the midnight “snack". Let’s talk about this midnight snack. At my house a midnight snack might be a small scoop of ice cream or popcorn. However, the midnight snack on this boat was a midnight feast. Platters heaped with roasted turkey, ham, and beef. Between all the meat and smoked fish there would be hearty salads and side dishes.

 

This month I am sharing an upside down cake with rum and almonds. I am also using my favorite fruit, peaches. I think if summer was a fruit it would be a peach. Maybe it’s because of the color or maybe because they are in season right smack dab in the middle of summer. I was inspired to make this dessert by the Almond Rum Cake featured on the Lurline Menu. I  ave never made a rum cake before but I wanted to add some seasonal peaches to brighten it up. I also kept the almonds to add texture to the batter. Now in order to remove the skin from the peaches I like to blanch them. You can see this on my Peach Bellini Cupcake recipe here. It is the easiest way to remove the skin and keep the peaches intact. Something I love about upside down cake is when you flip the pan over and the cake’s bottom is now the top. It is perfectly baked and the rum sauce is melting down the sides. This cake will be a showstopper on your dessert table.

Peach Upside Down Cake with Rum and Almonds
Total Time: 1 hour plus cooling
Active Time: 15 minutes.

 

Ingredients
¾ cup unsalted butter, divided
4 peaches, skin removed and sliced ½ inch thick
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
¾ cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup sour cream
¼ cup almonds finely crushed
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp. dark rum

 

Instructions
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Using 1 tbsp. butter, butter a round 9 inch nonstick cake pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. This can be done by tracing the bottom of the pan and cutting the circle out. Once the parchment paper is placed into the pan, butter the paper.

 

2. Place sliced peaches in a single layer in the bottom of the pan and set aside.

 

3. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

 

4. In a large mixing bowl mix 7 tbsp. of butter with sugar until creamy. About 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add vanilla extract and beat until incorporated. Add flour mixture in 3 batches alternating with addition of the sour cream until a batter is formed. Stir in almonds and set batter aside.

 

5. In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, melt remaining 4 tbsp. of butter. Whisk in brown sugar and rum. Whisk constantly until sugar dissolves and becomes an amber color, about 4 minutes. Let cool for 1 minute and pour over peaches in pan.

 

6. Once peaches are covered, spoon cake batter over peaches. Use a rubber spatula to spread evenly. Place on middle rack in oven and back 40-45 minutes. Remove pan from oven and cool at least 2 hours. Once cool, run a knife along edge of cake and turn pan over onto plate and serve.

 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Share your thoughts with us below and stay tuned for our third and final part to this historical series.

 

XOXO,

Claire

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