Easy pineapple upside down cake from scratch can be made using just two dishes – a bowl, and a skillet. It’s a retro cake, sweet, fun, and perfect for summer or your next tiki party!
Tell me this cake recipe doesn’t make you think of the 1960’s and all things tiki retro!? Don’t you just love it? Growing up, my mom would tell us about a food vendor that would stop by her high school selling pineapple upside down cake. That’s what she would have for lunch almost every day. She laughed that it wasn’t a very nutritious option, but high schoolers aren’t exactly known for being health nuts either.
When came here for a visit last month, I hosted recipe club and picked “childhood favorites” for the theme. For me, I made lo mein noodles, and for my mom I made this pineapple upside down cake from scratch. I made it in my cast iron skillet to keep the dish count as minimal as possible. Using a skillet allows you to prepare the butter and sugar topping in the same pan you bake, so you don’t dirty a skillet, baking dish, and mixing bowl. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, go ahead and use a pie dish to bake the cake.
In my opinion, pinapple upside down cake is best when it’s baked in a shallow pan so that the sauce has a chance to really work its way into each bite of cake. At least, that’s how I always knew it as a child, and if I’m making a nostalgic cake, I’m going to try to replicate my “original” as much as possible. 😉
That’s also why I use the crazy bright red cherries in syrup. Every pineapple upside down cake my mother bought from Publix had those cherries in the middle of each pineapple ring, and the pineapples were always in rings. It’s just not pineapple upside down cake without the cherries. Besides, it also adds a fun retro feel to the cake, an essential when you’re serving this at a luau party (if that’s your plan).
I hope you enjoy this recipe for pineapple upside down cake from scratch! We actually enjoyed the cake even better the next day, so this is a great make-ahead dessert for your summer festivities too!
Pinapple Upside Down Cake From Scratch
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- in pineapple rounds packed juice
- maraschino cherries
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 unsalted butter softened
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice reserve from can
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Place the butter for the topping and the brown sugar in a cast iron skillet. Place the skillet over medium heat and stir until the butter is melted and combined. Don't melt the sugar completely.
- Remove from the heat and arrange as many pineapple rings as possible into the skillet, placing a cherry in the center of each. Set aside.
- In a bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then mix in the egg, sour cream, and vanilla extract.
- Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir just until combined.
- Stir in the pineapple juice and then pour into the skillet.
- Bake the cake for 30 minutes until the center springs back lightly when touched.
- Remove from the oven and let stand 10-15 minutes before inverting onto cake plate.
- The cake may be loosely covered in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, bring to room temperature before serving.
Recipe Notes- If you want a cake with more topping "syrup", make the topping with 6 tbsp butter and 1 cup brown sugar instead.