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Monday, May 17, 2010

Birthday Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I have often made Pineapple Upside-Down Cake to celebrate my friend Carl's birthday. I don't know exactly how it started some years ago, I guess just because pineapples are symbols for hospitality and friendship--and perhaps because of my penchant for maraschino cherries (Yes! Add them to your topping!). But there I've been, arriving at his parties, with the cake still warm in my treasured flame-colored Le Creuset cast iron skillet, having lugged it all from home. The pan works very well in making this particular dessert and the guests certainly seem to like it, given all the "oohs" and "ahs" exclaimed with its unveiling.

Happy Birthday, dear Carl!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from Gourmet magazine
yield: Serves 8
active time: 30 min
total time: 1 1/4 hr
"This cake, thought to have first appeared in the 1920s, has had such names as pineapple glacé and pineapple skillet cake."

For topping:
1/2 medium pineapple, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cored
3/4 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

For batter:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 to 3 teaspoons ground cardamom
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
2 tablespoons dark rum for sprinkling over cake Special equipment:
a well-seasoned 10-inch cast-iron skillet

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Make topping: Cut pineapple crosswise into 3/8-inch-thick pieces. Melt butter in skillet. Add brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Arrange pineapple on top of sugar mixture in concentric circles, overlapping pieces slightly.

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

Spoon batter over pineapple topping and spread evenly. Bake cake in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cake stand in skillet 5 minutes. Invert a plate over skillet and invert cake onto plate (keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together). Replace any pineapple stuck to bottom of skillet. Sprinkle rum over cake and cool on plate on a rack.

Serve cake just warm or at room temperature.

Cooks' notes: •Some of the food editors found 3 teaspoons of cardamom to be too much, but others loved the intense flavor.•Cake may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before serving.


  1. This is a lovely recipe. Carl could not help but enjoy so fine a cake. This is my first visit to your blog. I found you by chance and had intended only to say a quick hello and move on. I was lured by your prior posts and ended up staying far longer than I planned. I love your recipes and the tone of your blog. I'll be back to visit as often as I can. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary