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pineapple cake

I don’t like neurotic people or things. So I have never been fond of Upside Down Cakes. The world is upside down already. Who needs another reminder?

Of course, being fair, the “upside down” part could refer, not to the economy, but to yoga. I don’t do headstands – fear of a broken neck – but lying next to a wall with my feet extended straight up against the wall is actually rather comforting.

So I was so pleasantly delighted to taste this cake. And so will you. This can become a new comfort food buddy for you. The cake is luscious and the pineapple bottom and glaze are full of flavor without being sickly sweet. Turning this cake out of the skillet, before your guests, will generate some smiles and “ahs”. The lovely complexity of that pineapple top, coupled with its intense out of the oven aroma, is definitely an end of meal treat.

The success of this cake comes, in large part, from the use of real, not canned, pineapple for the topping. And then using a little rum and lots of pineapple juice in the cake itself. That cake, just the cake, is a delight.

You can amplify the experience by adding some flavored whipped cream or ice cream or by accompanying with a glass of sweet wine.

Pineapple Upside Down Skillet Cake

Yield: 8 servings


For the topping:

  • 1/2 medium pineapple, peeled, quartered lengthwise and cored
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter (6 Tbsps.)
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

For the cake:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons. ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons. baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ stick unsalted butter, softened (6 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum, plus 2 tablespoons, for sprinkling over cake
  • ½ cup unsweetened pineapple juice


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the topping, cut the pineapple crosswise into 3/8-inch-thick pieces. Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Add the brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, for about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Arrange the pineapple on top of the sugar mixture in concentric circles, overlapping pieces slightly.

For the batter, in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cardamom, baking powder, and salt. Beat the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the granulated sugar. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and rum. Add half the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until blended. Beat in the pineapple juice, then add the remaining flour mixture, beating just until blended (batter may appear to be slightly curdled).

Spoon the batter over pineapple topping and spread evenly. Bake the cake in the middle of the oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Let the cake stand in the skillet for 5 minutes. Place a plate over the skillet and invert the cake onto the plate (keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together). Replace any pineapple stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Sprinkle rum over the cake and cool slightly.

Serve cake warm or at room temperature.

Source: Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, 2002