Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
- For the Topping
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter (equivalent to 1/2 stick or 4 tablespoons)
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 7 slices canned pineapple (more if you're going to fill in the gaps with pineapple pieces)
- 7 maraschino cherries
- 1/4 cup pecan pieces (optional)
- For the Cake
- 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (1 stick, 8 tablespoons)
- 3/4 white granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup regular whole milk
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice (you can use the juice from the canned pineapple slices)
Pineapple upside-down cake is one of those desserts that is so popular in Latin America that many Latinos believe it was first made in whatever country they're from. But that could not be further from the truth. Upside-down cakes have been made in the US since at least the 1800's but this particular cake became increasingly popular in the 1920's when canned goods were all the rage.
The traditional way to make it is by using a cast-iron skillet because it helps the sugar caramelize nicely without burning the butter. But that's not to say that you cannot make it in a regular cake pan or deep pie dish, which is what I use to make it.
I think the cake itself can come out a bit bland and that may be the reason why so many people tend to only eat the sweet, buttery crust, but not the actual cake. An easy way to solve that is to add not only vanilla extract but also ground cinnamon. Trust me on this, it gives the cake great flavor, especially when combined with the caramelized sugar and pineapple rings.
As for the gaps in between the pineapple rings, I like to fill them in with pecan pieces to give it a delicious crunch. Some people like to fill them with small pieces of pineapple, or you can just leave them as is.