A Bit of Spring Sunshine: Pineapple Upside Down Cake

One of my favorite desserts as a kid was Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  My mom made a great one, and so did our babysitter.  She watched us at our house, before we started  school, and I remember my mom asking her to make the cake in our cast iron skillet.  I don’t know why, but it seemed to taste much better that way!  So when I make it now, I always use a cast iron skillet…not only does it taste better, it turns out of the pan much better as well, it seems, since it’s so well-seasoned. The skillet, not the cake.

Pineapple ChaosServedDaily

I love this cake because it’s as though it’s already frosted for you, with the ooey-gooey caramelized butter and sugar surrounding the bright gold pineapple rings and vibrant cherries…and who doesn’t love maraschino cherries, I ask you?

I’ve tried using fresh pineapple, peeling it, cubing it, and caramelizing it, but it’s nowhere near as pretty when it’s not rings, and THERE ARE NO HOLES FOR MARASCHINO CHERRIES!  So why bother?  And it tasted pretty much the same, and I worked a lot longer on it than a canned pineapple one.

This recipe is from King Arthur Flour, my go-to for no-fail, from scratch recipes (as you may have noticed!). I don’t put nuts in mine, but go right ahead if you’d like them in yours!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 20-ounce can pineapple rings in juice, drained
  • maraschino cherries
  • diced pecans or walnuts, optional
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk


1) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9″ round cake pan.

2) To make the topping: Melt the butter, and mix with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan.

3) Space the pineapple rings atop the brown sugar mixture. Place a cherry in the center of each ring. If you’re using nuts, scatter them in any empty spaces.

4) To make the cake: Beat the butter and sugar until fairly smooth.

5) Beat in the egg, then the salt, baking powder, vanilla, and coconut flavor.

6) Add the flour alternately with the milk, mixing at medium speed and beginning and ending with the flour. Once the last of the flour is added, mix briefly, just until smooth.

7) Spoon the thick batter into the prepared pan, spreading it to the edges of the pan. It may not cover the pineapple entirely; that’s OK.

8) Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

9) Remove the cake from the oven, wait 3 minutes, then turn the pan over onto a serving plate. Wait 30 seconds, then lift the pan off. If anything sticks in the pan, just lift it out and place it back on the cake.

10) Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

You can mix this up and bake it in less than an hour, and, on yet another rainy Northwest day, it’s a bit of sunshine for a weeknight dessert splurge!


2 thoughts on “A Bit of Spring Sunshine: Pineapple Upside Down Cake

    • Yep, just bake it right in the iron skillet. My mom even stores her skillets in the oven, she uses them so often! (Or she did when she cooked for us every night!)

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