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Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe & Video

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This Pineapple Upside Down Cake is a throwback to the 1920s. A time when canned pineapple was all the rage. One look at this cake and you can see why it was so popular. It is lovely, with its glistening slices of sweet and sticky caramelized pineapple sitting happily on top of a fluffy white butter cake. A Pineapple Upside Down Cake begs to be served warm from the oven, with or without a dollop of softly whipped cream


When I set out to make a Pineapple Upside Down Cake, I had my mother's cake in mind. Her cake had rings of canned pineapple slices with a Maraschino cherry in the center of each. However, if you like you can use fresh pineapple. Just peel, core, and slice the fresh pineapple. The cake begins with melting butter with brown sugar until it starts to caramelize. This mixture is then poured into a cake pan and the pineapple slices are placed on top. A buttery white cake batter is then poured over the pineapple slices and the cake is baked until a deep golden brown.

So why did the first recipes for a Pineapple Upside Down Cake use canned pineapple instead of fresh? For the answer we have to look at the time (1920s) this recipe first appeared. The 1920s was the beginning of widespread availability of canned pineapple at reasonable prices. (At the time fresh pineapple was not widely available and if you could find it, it was very expensive.) This widespread availability happened because Jim Dole, who founded the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (later known as Dole Food Co.) in the early 1900s, increased pineapple production dramatically. He canned about 95% of the crop so this eventually led to a huge expansion of the canned pineapple market. As with all new foods, with time pineapple recipes began to appear in magazines, newspapers, and cookbooks. So popular was Pineapple Upside Down Cake in the 1920s, that Jean Anderson in her The American Century Cookbook tells us that when the Dole Food Co. held a cooking-with-pineapple contest in 1926 they received over 2,500 recipes for Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Since then the popularity of Pineapple Upside Down Cake has ebbed and flowed, and now it is often thought of as comfort food. 

Related Recipes You May Like

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Apple Yogurt Cake

Plum Coffee Cake

Cherry Cake

 Almond Cake

Cranberry Upside Down Muffins

Pineapple Upside Down Cake: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Butter (or spray with a non stick vegetable spray) a 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pan with 2 inch (5 cm) sides.

Topping: Place the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Continue cooking, without stirring, for a few more minutes or until bubbles just start to appear around the outside edges of the mixture (the sugar starts to caramelize). Then remove from heat, and pour into your prepared cake pan. Evenly arrange the pineapple slices on top of the sugar mixture. If you like, place a Maraschino Cherry in the center of each pineapple slice. Can also place more cherries around the outside edge of the cake.

Cake Batter: In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the egg yolks and beat until incorporated. Add the flour mixture (in three additions), alternately with the milk (in two additions), ending with the dry ingredients (the batter will be thick).

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar just until the whites hold a firm peak. With a large spatula gently fold the beaten egg whites into the cake batter in two additions. Pour the batter into the cake pan, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon or offset spatula. Bake in preheated oven for 35 - 45 minutes, or until the top of the cake is a deep golden brown and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan (a toothpick inserted into the cake (not the pineapple) will come out clean). Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan and then invert the cake onto your serving plate. Serve warm. This cake is best on the day it's baked. But leftovers can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Reheat in the microwave.

Makes about 8 servings.

Note: Instead of canned pineapple slices, you can use 1 medium fresh pineapple. Peel, quarter, and core the pineapple and then cut into 1/4 inch (.5 cm) slices.

View comments on this recipe on YouTube


Anderson, Jean. The American Century Cookbook. Clarkson Potter/Publishers. New York: 1997.

Grigson, Jane. Fruit Book. Penguin Books. London: 1982.

Lovegren, Sylvia. Fashionable Food. MacMillan. New York: 1995.

Smith, Andrew F. The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink. Oxford University Press. New York: 2007.

Waters, Alice. Chez Panisse Fruit. Harper Collins Publishers. New York: 2002.


4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) (55 grams) butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup (150 grams) light brown sugar

1 - 20 ounce can (567 grams) of pineapple slices, drained and patted dry

14 Maraschino Cherries, drained and patted dry (optional)

Cake Batter:

1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour

2 teaspoons (8 grams) baking powder

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) salt

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs (100 grams), separated

1/2 cup (120 ml/grams) milk, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) cream of tartar


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