Pineapple upside down cake is an old-fashioned cake that made its debut in the 1920’s, coinciding with the advent of widely available canned pineapple. So delicious and beautiful to behold, pineapple upside down cake remains popular to this day. Although it may look like a cake that requires the skills of an accomplished pastry chef, it has been prepared for decades with great success by home bakers. Pineapple rings and cherries are decoratively arranged into a mixture of brown sugar and butter which have been melted together in a cast iron skillet. A rich coffee cake batter is spooned over the fruit, and the cake is baked in the oven until golden brown. When removed from the oven, the pineapple upside down cake is immediately inverted onto a cooling rack or large plate. It releases seamlessly, revealing a colorful mosaic of pineapple rings and cherries, glistening and perfectly caramelized. As the cake cools to room temperature, the caramelized fruit juices seep into and infuse it with ambrosial goodness. A great cake to have on hand for the fun and festive month of May, bake one for mom on Mother’s Day, or bring one along for a Memorial Day Picnic dessert.


Fruit Topping

  • 14 pineapple rings packed in unsweetened pineapple juice*
  • 14 pitted maraschino cherries
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 14 to 16 pecan halves

Cake Batter

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 ounces or 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 8 ounces or ½ pint sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Before you begin: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Have ready a 10″ cast iron skillet or oven proof heavy gauge aluminum pan. 

To make the fruit topping: Drain the pineapple rings.  Save the juice to drink or use in another recipe.  Drain the cherries.  Place pineapples and cherries on paper towels to absorb liquid and dry as much as possible.  Halve 6 pineapple rings and 6 cherries.

Melt the butter in the skillet over medium heat.  Add the brown sugar, stir together with the butter for about 1 minute, then remove from heat.

Place one pineapple ring in the center of the skillet on the butter/brown sugar mixture.  Arrange about 7 of the whole pineapple rings around the center pineapple ring. Brush side of pan with melted butter or spray with Pam. Place the half pineapple rings side by side against the sides of the pan, cut edges touching the whole pineapple rings.

Place whole cherries in the center of the whole pineapple rings and the half cherries into the halved pineapple rings. Place pecans into the gaps between the pineapples and cherries.

To make the cake batter: Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.  In the medium bowl of mixer, beat the butter for about one minute, then add the sugar and beat until fluffy for about 2 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time and beat well.  Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat for another minute until well combined.

Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared skillet and spread evenly.

Bake for about 50 minutes until the cake is golden and a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and immediately invert the cake onto a cooling rack or large cake plate, so that the cake is on the bottom and the caramelized fruits are on the top.

Serve at room temperature.

Serves 10 to 12

May 2015


*To get 14 pineapple rings you will have to buy two 20-ounce cans of pineapple rings packed in unsweetened pineapple juice.  You will have some extra pineapple to snack on or use in a fruit salad.