Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

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On a recent trip to Sam’s Club, I picked up a copy of Cook’s Illustrated Summer Entertaining magazine. (Do you spend way too much time at Sam’s looking at the cookbooks and cooking magazines too?) It has lots of great summer recipes for grilling, side dishes and desserts. Of course, the section that I liked the best was the dessert section.

There’s an article in the dessert section on perfecting fruit upside-down cake with a guide on using peaches, nectarines, plums, mangos and fresh pineapple. My family loves fresh pineapple so that seemed like a perfect place to start.

Like many Cook’s recipes, this cake recipe is a little bit fussy, with several steps, but the texture and flavor of the cake is excellent. Similar in flavor and texture to a pound cake, but a little lighter and fluffier. We thought the addition of cornmeal to the batter added a weird texture to the cake and I would omit the cornmeal next time. The cake is best eaten hot. Right out of the oven this cake was, oh my gosh, but the next day it was just alright. I’m looking forward to trying it with more summer fruits.


Featured Image for post Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Yield: 8-10 servings

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes



  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 small pineapple, quartered, peeled, cored, and cut into 3/8 inch thick slices


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp cornmeal (I would omit next time)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup milk


  1. For the topping: Grease bottom and sides of 9 x 3-inch round cake pan. Melt 4 tbsp butter in medium saucepan over medium heat; add brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is foamy and pale, 3 to 4 minutes. (Next time I would just do this step in the microwave.)
  2. Pour mixture into prepared cake pan; swirl pan to distribute evenly. Arrange fruit slices in concentric circles over topping; set aside.
  3. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350º F. Whisk the flour, baking powder, cornmeal (I would omit next time), and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.
  4. Cream butter in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed. Gradually add 1 cup sugar; continue beating until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in yolks and vanilla (scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary); reduce speed to low and add dry mixture and milk, alternately in three or four batches, beginning and ending with dry ingredients, until batter is just smooth.
  5. Beat egg whites in large bowl at low speed until frothy. Increase speed to medium-high; beat to soft peaks. Gradually add 2 tbsp sugar; continue to beat to stiff peaks.
  6. Fold one-quarter of beaten egg whites into batter with large rubber spatula to lighten. Fold in remaining whites until no white streaks remain.
  7. Gently pour batter into pan and spread evenly on top of fruit, being careful not to disperse fruit. Bake until top is golden and toothpick inserted into cake center (but not into fruit, which remains gooey) comes out clean, 60 to 65 minutes.
  8. Rest cake on rack for 2 minutes. Slide a paring knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Place a serving platter over the pan and hold tightly. Invert the cake onto the platter. Carefully remove the cake pan. If any fruit sticks to the pan bottom, remove and position on top of cake.
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originally published June 21, 2010 — last updated July 26, 2019
Categories: Cakes