Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
This recipe comes from my dad’s mom, and it’s the best I’ve ever sampled. It follows a procedure often found in old Southern fruit-based dessert recipes. The butter and sugar are melted in a pan before the fruit and batter are added. The transition from cake bottom to candy-like top is sublime. I suspect this procedure evolved out of pan-baked corn breads that usually call for melting fat in the skillet before pouring in the batter.
Total Timeunder 2 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together
Dietary Considerationhalal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, vegetarian
Mealdinner, snack, tea
Taste and Texturebuttery, fruity, sweet
Type of Dishcake, dessert
- 113 g/4 oz/8 tablespoons/1 stick unsalted butter or margarine
- 227 g/8 oz.1 cup dark brown sugar
- 6 slices canned pineapple in heavy syrup, drained
- 6 Maraschino cherries (Yes, the nasty kind from a jar—but just this once.)
- 21 g/¾ oz/¼ cup pecans, chopped
- 43 g/1 ½ oz/3 tablespoons pineapple juice
- 135 g/4 ¾ oz/1 cup all purpose flour
- 3 g/ 1/8 oz/1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 g/<1/8 oz/¼ teaspoon salt
- 150 g/5 ¼ oz/3 large eggs
- 71 g/2 ½ oz/5 tablespoons pineapple juice
- Digital scale
- Dry measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Chef’s knife
- Cutting board
- 10-inch cast-iron skillet (Yes, it really has to be a cast-iron skillet. If you don’t have one, get one—nothing else will do the job.)
- Wooden spoon
- Food processor
- 2 large mixing bowls
- Rubber or silicone spatula
- Instant-read thermometer or toothpick
- Oven mitt
- Serving platter
Place an oven rack in position C (second position from the top) and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Prepare the Upside-Down Part: Place a cast-iron skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the dark brown sugar and stir until is dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and carefully place 1 pineapple slice in the center of the pan. Circle the other slices around the center slice. Put a cherry in the center of each pineapple slice and sprinkle the nuts evenly over the fruit. Top with the pineapple juice.
Assemble the Dry Goods and the Wet Works via the Muffin Method:
Scale or measure all ingredients.
Pulse all dry goods together in a food processor for 5 seconds.
Whisk together all liquid ingredients, including fat and eggs.
Add the wet stuff to the dry stuff and mix just until batter comes together. Do NOT mix smooth.
Pour the batter over the fruit in the skillet and bake for 40 minutes, until the temp of the cake reaches 210°F, or a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Put that oven mitt on your hand, remove the skillet from the oven, and allow to cool slightly.
Set a platter on top of the skillet and carefully invert the cake.
Consume mass quantities, and if there’s any left, it will keep—tightly wrapped at room temperature—for 5 days.
October 1, 2004