Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

by Heidi Obermeyer


A few things that were going through my head while I was making this cake:

-Crap! We STILL don’t have a can opener. Oh well, luckily we have this extremely sharp bottle opener that can at least rip a hole in the lid for me.

-Crap! I put the pineapples down before the carmel. That doesn’t matter, right? Eventually it’ll all just bake together.

-Crap! I put the sugar and molasses in with the butter to make the carmel at the same time! That doesn’t matter, right? Eventually it’ll all just bake together. OHHH wow, that’s bubbling. I better stir that a little faster…

-Crap! It says you need to blend the butter until it’s light and fluffy. I can just smoosh it around a little with a spatula, right? Eventually it’ll all just bake together.

-I haven’t watched Lion King for a really long time! There was that one part in which Timon and Pumba try and distract the hyenas with that dance, and I’m pretty sure there were pineapple slices involved in that scene. Nathaniel Lane was so great in that movie.

-They must have made this cake all the time in Mad Men days. Oooo! I’m even wearing red lipstick today! It’s a sign! Betty has turned out to be such a sourpuss.

And so on, until the cake was finally in the oven, dripping pineapple juice all over the place and smelling vaguely of burnt marshmallows as I crossed my fingers that nothing was going to catch on fire. I’d been hemming and hawing over recipes on Smitten Kitchen all morning until I decided to try this one- I wanted something that involved some kind of skilled baking maneuver (in this case, the upside down element) but that wasn’t going to take me that long. Et voilà! Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.

I found this incarnation to be a little on the sweet side, but I think that may have been because I’ve been eating lots of German-style kuchen in which the sweetness is generally more muted. I left out the final sprinkle of rum at the end, mostly because the rum I used smelled like the nasty corners of the U-bahn and I didn’t want any more of it in my cake than was absolutely necessary. With a higher quality rum, I would recommend adding it for a little extra kick. I added a squeeze of lime juice to the batter for extra pizzaz. I couldn’t tell if it had really changed the flavor, but I’ve come to believe that adding a little lime juice to any recipe never hurt a soul. I baked the cake for the recommended 45 minutes, but I prefer crispy edges (especially with the delicious carmel topping on this cake) so I’ll leave it in the oven for a bit longer next time around.


Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Adapted for Germany-available ingredients and grams from Smitten Kitchen’s adaptation from Gourmet magazine. For cup measurements, refer to the original recipe.


1/2 a medium pineapple peeled, cored, and sliced (or 1 can of pineapple slices)

85 grams unsalted butter

150 grams brown sugar (or 150 grams white sugar with 1 heaping spoonful of molasses)


192 grams all-purpose flour

1 packet of baking powder

1/4 teaspoon of salt

85 grams unsalted butter, softened

201 grams granulated sugar

2 large eggs, or 3 German-style smaller eggs

1 vial vanilla extract or 1 packet of vanilla sugar

1 tablespoon dark rum

125 ml pineapple juice

Optional- extra rum for sprinkling over the cake, half of a lime for a squeeze of juice

Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F). Butter a 9-inch cake pan (SK uses a cast iron skillet- another option, if you’ve got one).

Assemble the topping first. Arrange pineapple slices in an aesthetically pleasing way around the bottom of the pan. In a separate pot, melt the butter. Add brown sugar and let simmer for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour immediately over top of pineapple in the cake pan. (Note: Since I was using a springform pan, I had some leakage issues at the end with juice spilling through the edges. If your pan isn’t watertight, set it on top of a cookie tray to prevent countertop spills.)

To make the cake batter, combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Set aside. Whip butter with an electric mixer (if you have one) or push it around half-heartedly with a spatula (if you don’t). Slowly add and blend the sugar into the butter. Add eggs one at a time and blend. Add vanilla and rum and blend. Add half of the flour mixture, stir, and then stir in the pineapple juice and optional lime juice. (Note: SK mentions that at this point the batter might look curdled, and it’s totally true. Don’t worry, you didn’t mess up! Keep calm and carry on!) Add the remaining flour mixture and stir until just blended. Spoon over the topping in the cake pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until a tester stick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then invert onto a charming cake stand or plate. Replace the pineapple pieces that have inevitably stuck to the pan. Sprinkle optional rum over top and serve immediately or at room temperature. Tip: cutting the cake with a serrated knife helps to divide large pineapple slices evenly. Guten Appetit!