Friday, July 6, 2012

skillet pineapple upside-down cake

Recently, returning from a family vacation in Hawaii, home of the pineapple, left me craving for pineapple upside-down cake. Deciding on a time-honored method, I baked my pineapple upside-down cake in a cast-iron skillet.

A bowl full of cherries.
As far back at the late 1800’s, the first pineapple upside-down cakes were cooked in cast-iron skillets, and referred to as skillet cakes. Ovens were not as reliable back in those days. Cakes were often made in cast-iron skillets on stovetops.

Pineapple topping is cooked stovetop in a cast-iron skillet.
Skillet pineapple upside-down cakes are moist white cakes topped with a caramelized brown sugar and butter topping with sweet, gooey pineapple. As soon as the cake was pulled out of the oven and converted from skillet to platter, spoons were handed out to my family and everyone dug into the scrumptious cake all at once. Only remnants of the cake remained.

I took the above photo of a picture hanging in the historical section of the Royal Hawaiian Resort Hotel in Wakiki.  The photo was taken in the 1800's, when Wakiki was quickly becoming a famous beach location for tourist from Europe and the United States.

skillet pineapple upside-down cake

For the pineapple topping:
One 20-ounce can pineapple rings, with their syrup or juice
6 tablespoons butter
¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
10 maraschino cherries

For the cake:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg
1-teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the topping:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Drain the pineapple well, reserving 2 tablespoons of the juice or syrup for the cake batter. Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat.

Remove the pan from the stove, and sprinkle the brown sugar over its buttery surface. Carefully place the pineapple rings on top of the scattered brown sugar topping, arranging them so they fit in a layer. Place a cherry in the center of each ring, and set the pan aside.

To make the cake:
In a mixer with whisk attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, and quickly mix until blended. Add the milk and butter, and beat well with a mixer at medium speed, scraping down the bowl once or twice, until you have a thick, fairly smooth batter. Add the egg, reserved pineapple juice/syrup, and the vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes more, stopping once or twice to scrape down the bowl.

Carefully pour the batter over the pineapple arranged in the skillet, and use a spoon or a spatula to spread it evenly to the edges of the pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and springs back when touched lightly in the center. Cool in the skillet for 5 minutes on a wire rack or a folded kitchen towel. With oven mitts, carefully turn out the warm cake onto a serving plate by placing the plate upside down over the skillet, and then flipping them over together to release the cake onto the plate. Serve warm, or cool to room temperature before serving, and watch it disappear.


  1. god this looks so good. love that picture of the cherries too!



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