"My millennial niece Sarah gets a rapturous look whenever I make this pineapple upside down cake. It's a keeper."
Pineapple upside down cake is easy, sticky, gooey and delicious. Credit: Courtesy of Sandy Oliver

Keep a can of crushed pineapple or rings on hand and the ingredients for a simple cake, and this gooey, delicious dessert can be yours for a few minutes of stirring and arranging and some baking time during which you can take short walk or watch birds or see if you have daffodils coming up in the yard.

I picked this recipe up sometime in 1970, one of the first recipes I ever collected, and it was popular with the youngsters in a family I lived with when I first left home. My millennial niece Sarah gets a rapturous look whenever I make it. It’s a keeper.

The Dole company raised and canned so much pineapple in the first decades of the 1900s that it worked up recipes for home cooks to help create demand, so pineapple upside down cake probably evolved in a company test kitchen from an apple upside down cake in general use at the time.

I usually use a 10-inch cast iron skillet. I like to use butter because it tastes so very rich with brown sugar — dark or light brown is up to you. I’ve seen these cakes with maraschino cherries in the center of each pineapple ring but I prefer using dried cranberries, or fresh ones if I have them.

Pineapple upside down cake

Makes one 10-inch cake

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons butter, divided

1 cup brown sugar

1 can of pineapple rings

Fresh or dried cranberries, optional

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs 

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a heavy pan, a 10-inch skillet or baking pan, melt 1/4 cup butter and add the brown sugar, stirring them together and spreading to cover the bottom of the pan.

Lay the pineapple slices on top of the melted butter and sugar. Put cherries or cranberries in the center of the rings.

Cream together 3 tablespoons of butter and the sugar, then beat in the eggs. 

Whisk the flour and baking powder and add to the butter, eggs and sugar mixture alternately with the milk to make a smooth batter.

Pour the batter over the top of the pineapples. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until it is golden and the center feels firm to the touch.

Allow to cool slightly, run a knife around the perimeter of the cake, then place a plate on the top of the pan and invert it quickly. If necessary, scrape up a little of the butter and sugar and spread it back on the pineapple.

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Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...