I adopted this recipe after its original poster, Mean Chef, departed the site. Mean posted it on Feb 5, 2003, and made these comments: "This version of the pineapple upside-down cake is absolutely stunning. You will impress everyone."
Use a 10-inch (measure across the bottom) cast iron pan. (although this cake can be made in a round cake pan, it is better if you use cast iron).
Drain pineapple slices and place on paper towels to absorb moisture. (you will need 8 whole slices; the other 6 will be cut in half).
Whisk or stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together just to blend; set aside.
In a separate bowl, stir the vanilla into the creme fraiche or sour cream; set aside.
Melt 2 oz of butter in the cast iron pan.
Add the brown sugar and bourbon (if using) and cook over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the sugar melts.
Place 1 whole pineapple slice in the center of the pan and 7 whole slices surrounding it.
Place the half slices side by side against the sides of the pan, the two cut edges down touching the brown sugar.
Place pecan halves in the middle of each pineapple slice and in the gaps between the fruit.
Place remaining butter (4 oz.) and the granulated sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or use a hand-held mixer, and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
The butter and sugar must be beaten until light and fluffy; don't rush it- the process can take 3 to 4 minutes with a heavy-duty mixer and 6 to 8 minutes with a hand-held mixer.
Reduce speed to medium adding eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Working with a rubber spatula, carefully fold in dry ingredients and creme fraiche alternately- 3 additions of dry ingredients, 2 of creme fraiche. (you will end up with a thick batter).
Spoon batter over pineapple and smooth the top by spreading the batter with an offset spatula.
Put the cast iron pan in the oven and bake for 20 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean (test in a couple places to be certain).
As soon as the cake is removed from the oven, turn it out onto a round plate large enough to hold the cake.
If any of the fruit sticks to the skillet, use a small spatula to place it back on the cake.
NOTE: The cake can be kept wrapped in plastic at room temperature overnight.