<< Another March Day in Seattle

03/10/19 - Pineapple Upside Down Cake

We love pineapple upside down cake, but it has been hard to find a good recipe. Too many of them use whole wheat flower and taste dark and gritty. Others are dry, as if they need to be soaked in pineapple juice to be made edible. We spent years trying to make this classic dessert, then we gave up, for years.

More recently, we decided to make our own version. We use Edna Lewis's caramel cake recipe for the cake and an improvised pineapple topping that starts on the bottom.

Pineapple upside down cake
The cake is simple, if you know how to make cakes from scratch. If you don't, it's worth learning how.


  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  1. Cream the butter. Smoosh it with a fork. Smoosh it with the flat of your hand. It helps to get leave the butter out of the refrigerator for an hour or so. That makes it easier to smoosh.
  2. Use a fork and smoosh in the sugar until it is dissolved in a gritty mixture.
  3. Stir in the two eggs. This will make it creamier.
  4. Add one cup of the flour, the baking powder and the salt. Start smooshing it into the mix.
  5. When the flour starts to mix in, add 1/3 cup of milk, the vanilla and the lemon.
  6. When this starts turning into a soppy mess, add the other cup of flour.
  7. When the soppy mess has dried a bit, add the final 1/3 cup of milk.
  8. Keep stirring until you have a smooth cake batter.
Now for the assembly. You'll want an 11" x 11" cake pan. You can probably use a 10" x 10" or a 12" x 12", but we haven't tried it. You'll also want some baker's parchment to line the cake pan. INGREDIENTS FOR THE PINEAPPLE TOPPING
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 can crushed pineapple
  • 1 can crushed pineapple or pineapple rings
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Optional: maraschino cherries
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Butter the cake pan and line it with parchment. We just fold one sheet to cover the bottom. There's no reason to line the sides.
  3. Melt the butter in the microwave and pour it into the cake pan.
  4. Spread out the brown sugar and sprinkle in the salt.
  5. If you want a pretty topping, you can make a pattern with pineapple rings and maraschino cherries.
  6. Drain and squeeze the crushed pineapple and fill in any gaps or just use 1 1/2-2 cans worth to line the entire cake pan.
  7. Pour in the cake batter.
  8. Bake for about 15 minutes. Ovens vary. It might take 20 minutes.
  9. When you can stick a butter knife into the cake and it comes out with no uncooked batter stuck to it, the cake is done.
  10. Let the cake cool.
  11. Turn the cake pan over. The cake should slide out. The bottom will become the topping.

Keywords: recipe