What Is A Pineapple Upside Down Cake And Tips To Make It A Success

When commercial ovens were still unavailable, cooking on cast-iron skillets over open flames was the norm. When people wanted dessert, they still cooked it in an iron skillet over an open fire. A typical dessert might be made of fruit with a batter poured on top to create a cake, giving birth to the pineapple upside-down cake.

In the early 1900s, James Dole (founder of the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, now known as Dole) invented canning pineapples, which had not previously been a reality due to technological limitations. Through this method, pineapple made its way into ever-increasing numbers of American homes, and the upside-down pineapple cake was formed. This cake emerged as a baking contest winner in 1925. The pineapple manufacturer sponsored the contest. We still celebrate pineapples with the classic Pineapple Upside Down Cake more than a century later. 


Photo by Dairy Darilag

To re-create this classic, follow these steps: 

What are the ingredients to make a pineapple upside-down cake?

You need some crucial ingredients to make this into the festive-looking cake that you want. There are two parts to the cake so take stock and see if you have all you need before you start.

Topping Ingredients

  • 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) pineapple slices, drained and patted dry
  • 14 Maraschino cherries, drained and patted dry 

How to make the topping:

  • 1 In a small saucepan, boil the butter and brown sugar over medium heat, constantly stirring until the butter has melted and the sugar has completely dissolved.
  • 2 Heat, without stirring, for a few more minutes or until bubbles develop around the outside edges of the mixture (the sugar should caramelize). Then take it from the fire and pour it into the cake pan you've prepared. Arrange the pineapple slices in the sugar mixture in an even layer.
  • 3 Alternatively, you can insert a Maraschino Cherry in the center of each pineapple slice. You can also add additional cherries to the exterior edge of the cake.

Cake Batter Ingredients:

  • 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

How to make the cake

  • 1 Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing basin by sifting or whisking them together.
  • 2 Beat till light and frothy in the bowl of your electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer) the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract until well combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as often as you need to. Beat in the egg yolks until they are well integrated. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternately with the milk (in two additions), and finish with the dry components in the last addition (the batter will be thick).
  • 3 Preheat oven at 180 degrees C for 20 minutes. 
  • Using an electric mixer at high speed, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar just until the whites form a firm peak. Fold the egg whites into the cake batter in two batches, carefully folding in between each addition using a big spatula. Doing this makes your cake batter airy, ensuring a spongy cake consistency.
  • 5 Next, the batter should be poured into the cake pan and smoothed out with the back of a spoon or the back of an offset spatula. The cake should be baked for 35 - 45 minutes, or until the top of the cake is a deep golden brown, and the sides of the pan begin to pull away from the pan (a toothpick inserted into the cake, but not through the pineapple, should come out completely clean).
  • 6 Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan and then flip and transfer the cake onto a serving plate. Warm the dish before serving.

This cake is at its best the day after it is cooked. In contrast, leftovers can be wrapped tightly and kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Reheat in the microwave until warm before serving.

Photo by Pexels

Tips to make a pineapple upside-down cake a success

Before you even start making your pineapple upside-down cake, here are tips to keep in mind:

  •  • Avoid adding any additional liquid or moisture to the base when making an upside-down cake. It will cause the cake to become soggy. Instead, drain the pineapple from the tin before using it.
  • • Make sure your pineapple upside-down cake has cooled for at least 10-15 minutes before attempting to invert it. You can gently release the sides of your pie plate or cake pan with a knife if any of the cake has baked into the rim of the dish or pan.
  • • Parchment paper is not necessary but it can be helpful if you fear that the sweet pineapple glaze might stick to your baking sheet. The melted butter and brown sugar combination is usually enough to ensure that it doesn’t stick so distribute it evenly in your cake pan.
  • • When possible, use fresh pineapple because it has better flavor than canned pineapples but is often less sweet than canned. If you're in a hurry, canned pineapple can suffice; make sure to select pineapple that has been preserved in the lightest syrup possible.

Pineapple upside-down cake is not a complicated cake to make but is very visual because of the vibrant colors of yellow and red. It’s an appetizing contrast to the caramelized sugar and, of course, it’s naturally delicious because everyone loves cakes.

Need some inspiration about other kinds of cakes you can make or have delivered? Here are some ideas to help you this holiday season: