Saturday, December 20

A Recipe for the Best Ever Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

pineapple upside down cake

When it comes to cherished family recipes, my grandmother's recipe for Pineapple Upside-Down Cake holds top honors. Like most everything that she created in her warm, tiny kitchen, this cake is remarkable in both its simplicity and flavor.

This recipe is over 70 years old and has brought pleasure to generations of our family and friends. So just what makes this Pineapple Upside Down Cake so special? It is a marvelously light, moist cake that is made irresistible by a thick, sugary crust that encases sweet pineapple slices, sticky maraschino cherries, and rich whole pecans.

You could modernize this recipe by using fresh pineapple instead of canned. You could skip the maraschino cherries if they seem old-fashioned. But don't. That's the beauty of this cake. It's a taste from a time long ago and, like a fine wine, should be savored.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This 70-year-old recipe is my grandmother's. It's everything you expect a classic pineapple upside-down cake to be: light, moist, and sticky sweet.

Makes 8 servings
Print recipe only here.

1/2 cup butter (8 tablespoons)
1 cup brown sugar
1 (20-ounce) can sliced pineapple
6 maraschino cherries
a few whole pecans
1 cup flour, sifted*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons pineapple juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Add butter to a 9-inch-round baking pan, and place inside of a warm oven until melted, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the butter. Add 6 pineapple slices and place a cherry inside of each one. Fill in the nooks and crannies with whole pecans.

In a medium bowl, combine sifted flour, baking powder and salt, and stir.

Using a hand mixer, in a metal or glass bowl, beat egg whites at high speed until fluffy. Set aside.

In a separate bowl beat egg yolks with sugar at medium speed until creamy. Add pineapple juice, and vanilla extract, and beat well. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, and beat until well combined. Fold in the egg whites with a rubber spatula. Pour cake mixture evenly over the fruit, and smooth with the spatula.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert carefully onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Note: Sifting the flour creates a lighter cake.

Fresh Cherry and Peach Upside-Down Cake
Here is my springtime variation on this basic pineapple-upside down cake recipe.

You might also like these family dessert recipes:

Traditional Italian Almond Biscotti


Italian Ricotta Pie with Pineapple


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Indeed, it looks incredibly scrumptious and mouthsmackingly good! A real beauty too!



Stacey Snacks said...

I LOVE pineapple upside down cake.
I have tried it with fresh pineapple, but the results are better with the canned yucky stuff.

Looks beautiful!
Happy Holidays Susan.

Love, Stacey

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

So simple and beautiful! Of the various upside down cakes, pineapple is my favorite!

Dewi said...

irresistibly good looking cake, Susan.

whitneyingram said...

I looked at that picture and I was sold. I am making this cake today. MMMMMM.

Anonymous said...

It looks irresistible, Susan! Cant wait to try it out sometime soon!!

Thanks for sending it in to my "Santa's Holiday Challenge".

ames said...

I think pineapple and Christmas eve will go very well this year!

Snooky doodle said...

this surely is a winner. It looks so moist and yummy :)

Lore said...

I love upside-down cakes and your grandmother's recipe sounds totally delicious.
Happy holidays!

Anonymous said...

That is one gorgeous upside down cake.

Karen said...

You can't go wrong with good ole' pineapple upside down cake! I found your Easter Pineapple Ricotta Pie at the end of this post and it sounds wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Love it....want to make it!

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

This is really nice of you to share this lovely recipe. I like this kind of cake. Merry Xmas!

Anonymous said...

Delicious looking! And I just went back and reread your post about your grandmother and her frittatas which is a wonderful, warm post. You're writing is so vivid.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

i have been craving pineapple lately! this is perfect!

Culinary Wannabe said...

One of my favorite treats of all time. We used to bake the cakes in muffin tins and used canned crushed pineapple. Yummy!!

Anonymous said...

Don't you dare remove the cherries! ;)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

...moist cake that is made irresistible by a thick, sugary crust that encases sweet pineapple slices, sticky maraschino cherries, and rich whole pecans ...
Yes Susan that is just what I want from a pineapple upside down and it must have the cherries! Gosh yes.

Sharon said...

Thanks for sharing your family heirloom! I used to think that I didn't like pineapple upside down cake, but after I tried it a couple months ago, I'm obsessed.

Anonymous said...

It's be a long time since I have had a good piece of pineapple upside down cake.

Manggy said...

Oh, this brings back memories... One of the first cakes we ever made together as a family when I was a kid, and still one of my favorites :) I even made one a few years back before I had a mixer and creamed the butter by hand-- still came out great!

Susan said...

Congrats on winning the Italian Basket- Im so happy for you. Enjoy:)

Rita said...

I LOVE upside down cakes, and I like to try it w various fruits too.

Jaime said...

sounds like a treasured recipe...thanks for sharing it with us :) i LOVE pineapple upside down cake!

Cynthia said...

Thanks for all the dessert suggestions.

Happy Holidays!

Unknown said...

That cake looks great! I have been wanting to try a pineapple upside down cake.

Navita (Gupta) Hakim said...

WOW...i love the sticky sweet pineapple...i am going upside down now...yummm...can i bring my plate?

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

I've always made these cakes with fresh pineapple, but never cherries. Your grandma's recipe has made such a beautiful cake, I must try it.

Best wishes, Susan for the festive season and a Happy New Year.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

I love family favorite recipes that stand the test of time. This one certainly looks like a keeper.

Anonymous said...

Waou.. thanks for sharing a family heirloom with the world. It does look like the best pineapple upside-down cake ever. This will ensure that your grandma's cake will be made for generations to come. How cool is that? :-)

Proud Italian Cook said...

70 years old and still looking good! Gooey sticky good!

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous! The only time I ever made pineapple upside down cake was at least 15 years ago, when I was writing an article about firehouse cooking, and this cake was the specialty of the guy who happened to be cooking on the night I was there. It was delicious, but not as beautiful as yours.

Annie said...

Wow, I felt like I was looking at my mom's pineapple upside down cake. That looks very similar to one she's been making for years. (Don't tell her I told you but she cheats now and uses boxed cake mix) hahaha... and it's still great!
Thanks for sharing such a family treasure!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Johanna GGG said...

Love that photo - it manages to look both modern and retro at the same time - this is such a great classic recipe - yours is different than my families but I love the traditions behind these recipes - will have to get hold of my mum's recipe some time!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your grandmother's recipe! Will keep this in mind when I decide to make this.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas! What lovely recipes!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

rosa-It makes me happy when I eat it! Thanks!

stacey-Me too!

tw-Mine too!

elra-Thank you!

rc-Yay! Hope you liked it.

ja-It was my pleasure.

ames-Sounds good to me too.:)

snooky-It really is super moist and dense.

lore-It's the best!

veron-Thank you!

karen-Oh, it really is, I promise!

mary-Make it!

helene-Happy Holidays!

julie-I really appreciate that. Thank you so much.

meeta-Glad to hear it.

ashley-I have to make the muffin kind.

maryann-Well said. :)

tanna-Let's hear it for the cherries!

sharon-You're so welcome.

cory-Now's a good time to try it again. :)

mark-I'm so happy this elicited happy family memories for you.

rita-I do as well.

jaime-It is a treasure!

cynthia-You're welcome!

kevin-This is your recipe then!

navita-That's sweet. :)

aparna-Happy New Year, my dear!

lynn-It just can't be beat.

zen-Isn't that wonderful? :)

marie-It stands the test of time!

lydia-Thank you! I hope you don't wait another 15 years to make another one. :)

annie-Now that's a compliment! (Your secret is safe with me.)

johanna-That's what I was hoping for! Thanks so much!

jude-I hope you do!

foodista-Happy Holidays!

ChichaJo said...

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake has been in our family forever too! Yes, there really is something so "long time ago" about it in all its kitschy nostalgic glory :)

Jeanne said...

Oh Susan, you read my mind! I've been absolutely obsessing about making a pineapple upside down cake - and here you post a recipe! And I agree 100% with you that you *could* update the cake with fancy schmancy fresh ingredients... but that woudl alter the fundamental nature of it, and it wouldn't taste like childhood any more. Bravo!

Katrina said...

I just asked my SIL what dessert she likes (for her b-day) and she said pineapple upside down cake. I can't wait to make this. I love that it is handed down from your grandmother.
I just posted an old recipe from my grandmother. Those are the best, aren't they?

Katrina said...

I just asked my SIL what dessert she likes (for her b-day) and she said pineapple upside down cake. I can't wait to make this. I love that it is handed down from your grandmother.
I just posted an old recipe from my grandmother. Those are the best, aren't they?

Susan from Food Blogga said...

katrina-Nothing beats grandma's recipes. This cake comes out perfectly every time, so I'm sure it will be a success. Please say Happy Birthday to your SIL! And aren't you sweet to bake her a cake.

Angi said...

OMG, I must say I was a little intimidated about making this because I am a cook, not a baker. I have never made a pineapple upside-down cake before, but I made this today for my husband for our 6th anniversary. It is the best thing I have ever had and went perfectly for dessert after our seafood stew. The ring of heavenliness around the outside edge of this cake is indescribable! I made mine in a 10 inch cast iron pan and took about 5 minute off the cooking time, there are still angels singing in my kitchen.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Hi Angi!

I'd like to think that one of those singing angels is my grandmother. Thank you for the touching note, and happy anniversary to you and your husband.


Sarah Schaefer said...

I made this today and it turned out great! Great recipe! :)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Sarah-I'm so happy to hear it! Thanks for letting me know!

LaShanta said...

Three bowls used for a 1-layer cake is pretty high maintenance. But I figured that adding the egg whites at the end would give the cake that fluffy lightness that I do adore in boxed cake mixes.

But I have to say, when I added the flour to the egg/juice/extract mixture, it was super-thick, coming together like bread dough. I wasn't even able to "fold" the egg whites in. I had to use the hand mixer in order to incorporate the egg whites into the egg yolk/flour mixture. And then, it was so thick that it barely even covered the pineapples in my cast iron skillet.

It's in the oven now. I'm worried. I'll report back after I taste it.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

lashanta-I'm not sure exactly what went wrong. However, this recipe as written, has been made scores of times without fail. The cake batter should be about the density of thick pancake batter. The egg whites must be folded into the batter and are typically done so easily. Since you beat the whites into the batter, it won't come out light and fluffy. I also don't know how it will cook in a cast-iron skillet as this recipes calls for a cake pan in the oven.

Anonymous said...

This was my first bake ever and it came out beautiful! I was amazed when i turned it!! But it was WAY WAY too sweet!! Can i just use half of what it asks for brown and regular sugar? Would it still come out as delicious?

Susan from Food Blogga said...

anonymous-I don't find it too sweet, so I have never made it with less sugar, so I can't say for sure. I guess you could try it and see how it goes. Good luck.

Unknown said...

Oh my gosh!! This is the best cake in the world. Delicious. I will be making this again and again. Thanks so much for sharing this awesome recipe!!

Myvegfare said...

wow, 70 year old recipe!, then it must be a must try recipe and pineapple in it makes it more interesting, love pineapple and that too in cakes, I have baked pineapple cakes this looks very delicious with cherries.

Anonymous said...

I just made this cake last night. Your recipe is dynamite! We loved it. Thanks to you and your grandma, too!

Michelle said...

I made this today, one for us, and one for our neighbour. It is SOOOOO incredibly good!! I can't wait to hear what the neighbour says. I will never make another pineapple upside down recipe, this cake is to DIE for!!! Many thanks to your grandma for a 6 star cake!!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

michelle-Yaaaay! I'm thrilled you love it so much. I really do thinks it's the best. Nan is smiling from above. I just know she is.

Anonymous said...

I tried this recipe and it tastes sooooooooooo good!!! Thanls for sharing your recipe!

Koren said...

I made this recipe and it was the best I have ever made. I placed crushed black walnuts between the pineapple slices and it was a great addition. Thank you for sharing this.


Anonymous said...

I just made this for my sister's birthday and she LOVED IT! It's sweet, but soooo good.

Anonymous said...

Is there no butter in the cake batter itself. Is the 1/2 cup of butter only for the brown sugar & Pineapple topping?

*About to start making this...HELP!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

anonymous-Nope, no butter in the batter. Just got home, so this is the quickest I could respond. Hope it went well!

reks said...

My cake is baking in the oven even as I write to you...just a quick question..I notice that your recipe does not mention butter in the cake I right or have I missed a vital ingredient?????
I can see it rising beautifully tho!!!!

Michele from Missouri said...

I found your recipe online last nite as I was craving this cake. I followed the recipe to the letter and it came out exactly like the picture you have for it. It was very yummy and tastes just as good the next morning. Thank you very much for sharing.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

michele-Oh, wonderful! It always makes me smile to know people all over the country are enjoying Nan's pineapple upside-down cake.

Isolde72879 said...

This is the best pineapple upside down cake recipe ever. The cake has the most amazing texture. I've made it two times this week already. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

Tasty Treasures said...

Could this be made into cupcakes? Any suggestions on how full to fill the cups?? Thanks!!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

TastyTreasures- I've never done it, but if you'd like to try, I'd put pecans, pineapple, and cherries in the bottom of the muffin cups and pour the batter over it, about 3/4s of the way up. Let me know how they turn out!

Carrie said...

I made this for my boyfriend's birthday and it was absolutely DELICIOUS!!!!!!