Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

My mom started teaching me to cook at an early age, and one of the first desserts I learned to prepare was pineapple-upside down cake.  It is one of my favorite comfort foods to this day.  I’ve always followed Mom’s recipe faithfully until today, when I decided to make things a little more decadent, and hopefully, a little more delicious.

Mom and I share a love for rum-flavored desserts.  Rum raisin ice cream, black-bottom pie, rum cake — you get the idea.    She relies on rum extract, while I prefer the 80 proof version for cooking.  I thought a little rum and some coconut might convert our tried-and-true upside-down cake recipe to a tropical treat, and exchanging the original recipe’s vegetable shortening for real butter was a no-brainer in my upgrade strategy.  It has only been in recent years that I’ve come to realize all flours are not created equal, and now King Arthur flour has become part of the recipe.  One thing was consistent with family tradition- this cake bakes best in a cast-iron skillet.  No mere cake pan can deliver the pineapple-butter-brown sugar topping with the same wonderful caramelized texture.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

  • 1-8 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained with juice reserved
  • 1-8 ounce can pineapple chunks, drained with juice reserved
  • 1 tablespoon rum (I used light rum)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sweetened, flaked coconut

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Lightly grease a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil.  Drain pineapple, reserving the juice.  Add rum to the pineapple juice, and if necessary, enough water to make 2/3 cup liquid.  Add 3 tablespoons of crushed pineapple to the juice.

On the stove top, melt 1/4 cup butter in the prepared skillet over medium low heat, then stir in the  brown sugar and the remaining crushed pineapple.  Spread evenly in skillet, then place pineapple chunks in the skillet, spacing them evenly.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of coconut.  In a mixing bowl, cream 1/3 cup butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg, and mix until thoroughly blended.  Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add the dry mixture alternately with pineapple juice mixture, mixing well after each addition.  Add 1/2 cup coconut and mix thoroughly.  Spoon batter over the pineapple mixture in skillet.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the cake tests done.  While the cake is still hot, carefully turn it out of the skillet onto a serving platter.


I’ve never made this cake when a little of the topping didn’t stick to the skillet, so be prepared to make a few repairs once you have plated the cake.  It is best served warm, and is equally delicious on the second day after a brief microwave reheat.


There’s a check mark in the “WIN” column for this experiment.  The butter and rum added more flavor depth and moistness to the cake, while the coconut in the topping and batter made it satisfyingly tropical.  King Arthur Flour always plays a key role in my baking success.  This American employee-owned company mills high-quality flours from 100% American-grown non-GMO wheat.  If you have been following our blog for very long, you know I use it with confidence in all my baking.

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