In the Zone: Tommi Vincent’s Thanksgiving

I take my food seriously which is why Tommi Vincent and I get along so well. I’ve asked Tommi to share some of the “legacy-inspired, soul-stirring” recipes that makes her table the one you want to be at because it’s the place where everyone is welcome—and where the food is second to none. This week, she’s really speaking my language (pudding and cake!) with two classic Thanksgiving desserts. —M.S.

Capturing the essence of the holiday season through food is an art, and my Nana Edie was a master at it. Every Thanksgiving, there were two staple desserts on her counter: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake and Banana Pudding. Yum! It gives me great joy to incorporate holiday traditions of my past with new traditions for my family, so I could not resist taking those memories and creating my own interpretations. Behold, my recipes for Deconstructed Pineapple Upside Down Trifle and Banana Pudding Pound Cake—one pound cake recipe, two spectacular desserts. These two recipes are inspired by my childhood memories; it is important for me to continue the traditions of legacy-inspired cooking that feels like comfort, tastes like home. My children and the generations to come will be able to make a withdraw from that memory bank, for sure!

Before you begin: There are multiple recipes within these two desserts. I have broken it down into individual steps. Do not be overwhelmed. Execute one at a time. They are all simple and worth every bit of the effort. Each component can be made the day before, with the exception of cutting the bananas. You want to cut them right before serving, so you are not presenting a dessert with brown bananas.


Step 1: Bake the pound cake

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
8 oz. sour cream
4 eggs
3 sticks of unsalted butter
1½ cups juice from pineapple chunks, set fruit aside 
1 tsp. vanilla extract 

Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter and dust with flour two 5×9” loaf pans. 2. With a stand or hand mixer, beat butter, sugar, and salt until mixture becomes a pale yellow. 3. Add in one egg at a time until well incorporated. Add sour cream, pineapple juice, and vanilla. Mixture will look curdled. 4. Sift flour and baking powder into the mixture. Mix on low until batter is smooth. Be sure to scrap sides of the bowl to insure all of the ingredients are mixed in. 5. Spoon batter into loaf pans, alternating to distribute equal amounts of batter. 6. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes on the middle rack. Start checking at 50 minutes. Note: Oven temperatures vary. Once you are able to insert a toothpick and it comes out clean, your cakes are done. 7. Let cool for 15 minutes before turning out of the pan. 

Step 2: Make the bourbon caramel sauce

1 cup brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. bourbon

Directions: 1. Add butter and brown sugar into a skillet on medium high. Once the butter is melted, add heavy cream. Whisk together and add bourbon. 2. Bring sauce to a light boil, right above simmering bubbles. 3. Remove from heat and set aside. Makes enough sauce for both desserts

Step 3: Caramelize the pineapples

2 cans pineapple chunks
1 can pineapple rings (5 rings)
¾ cup brown sugar 
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Directions: 1. Add butter and brown sugar to a large skillet on medium high. 2. Drain pineapple chunks and rings. 3. Add chunks on one side of the skillet and rings on the other. Let the fruit develop caramel coloring before turning fruit. Let the color develop on all side. 4. Remove from heat and set aside.

Step 4: Toast the pecans

1 cup pecans
¼ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Directions: 1. In a skillet over a medium high heat, add all of the ingredients. 2. Mix together so the pecans are coated with butter and salt. 3. Toast for 3-5 minutes. Set aside.

Step 5: Make the whipped cream

1 quart heavy cream, cold
2 tsp. vanilla
½ cup powdered sugar

Directions: 1. Add heavy cream to a stand mixer or in a bowl using a hand mixer. Mix until cream forms fluffy medium peaks. 2.Add in vanilla and sugar and mix on low just long enough to incorporate. 3. Set in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble your trifle.

Step 6: Assemble it all

1. Cut a loaf of pound cake into cubes. 2. In a trifle dish, add cream to the bottom, layer with cake, pineapple chunks, pecans, and sauce. Repeat. 3. Add your pineapple rings to the top layer. Serve immediately.


Step 1: Make the pudding

1  (5.1 oz.) box vanilla pudding mix 
2 tsp. vanilla
1 can sweetened condensed milk
4 sliced bananas, cut into coins
Bourbon caramel sauce, to taste
Pineapple Pound Cake, sliced

Directions: 1. Make pudding according to box directions. 2. Add vanilla and sweetened condensed milk. 3. Cut pound cake loaf into slices and arrange on a platter. 4. Pour the pudding over the cake slices. Top with bananas. Ladle or spoon bourbon caramel sauce over the top. 5. Serve immediately.