My Mom's Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

By • April 19, 2010 23 Comments

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Author Notes: My mother was a good cook, and made many memorable dishes. But when I try to think of just one that typifies what she taught me about cooking, it's hands-down this cake. It's a cake that invites another bite, another slice. My Mom taught me to bake it when I was in junior high school, and it tastes just as delicious today as it did all those years ago. You must bake this in a black cast iron skillet, and I still have the skillet my Mom baked this cake in for as long as I can remember. She's been gone for a very long time now, about 25 years (forgive me for not having a photo of her to upload), but her cake lives on and always bring tears of joy to my eyes.Abra Bennett

Serves 8 (unless you decide to eat it all by yourself)

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 20 ounce can pineapple slices packed in juice, reserving 5 tablespoons juice
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Melt the butter in a 9-inch cast iron skillet. Add the brown sugar and stir well to thoroughly combine, then turn off the heat. Arrange 7 pineapple slices in a single layer over the brown sugar mixture (your 9-inch skillet should accommodate 7 slices without overlapping). Fill the spaces between the pineapple rings with the pecans, centering one in the middle of each ring and arranging the rest as artistically as possible. Turn the pecans upside-down, so that they will be right side up when you invert the cake later. Set the skillet aside.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl; set aside.
  4. Beat the egg yolks at medium speed until they are thick and lemon colored. Gradually add the sugar, continuing to beat. On low speed, add the flour mixture to the yolk mixture, and gently mix in the reserved pineapple juice.
  5. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the whites into the cake batter. Pour or spoon the batter evenly over the pineapple slices.
  6. Bake at 350°F for 40 to 45 minutes. Cool the cake in the skillet for 30 minutes; then invert it onto a serving plate.

More Great Recipes: Fruit|Cakes|Desserts

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Comments (23) Questions (0)


4 months ago Nicole Lyons

What a great idea to use pecans in this recipe. I love love love this cake and now I will love it even more! Thank you for sharing!


4 months ago carole_nelson_brown

some times a bit of the toffee/sugar stuff stays in the pan when I invert it but I just scrape it all on to the hot cake and it all melts right in and once it's cooled, you don't notice. For the entire cake to not come out, the skillet might not have been seasoned enough yet?


4 months ago akana

So... my cake is refusing to leave its skillet home. Any thought?


over 1 year ago Marcia

No butter/shortening in the cake..was this an omission or is it done without shortening?? Love using my skllet for upside down cakes.


over 1 year ago Abra Bennett

I'd say it was the skillet. I was given one of those "pre-seasoned" ones and it took weeks of use before stuff stopped sticking.


over 1 year ago Abra Bennett

Gosh, I've never had that happen. Was your cast iron pan well seasoned? Did you bake it too close to the bottom of the oven? And if you actually did make it with fresh pineapple, perhaps that affected the outcome somehow.


over 1 year ago Anneliese Butler

It was a brand new (but pre-seasoned) skillet... I was wondering if maybe I should have inverted it after 10 min instead of 30, as other recipes I've seen all say to do that. Did not use fresh pineapple.


over 1 year ago Anneliese Butler

Just made it (haven't tasted yet...) and all's well so far, except that when I inverted it onto a plate after cooling the recommended 30 min, a 1/4" layer of toffee remained in the skillet. It still looks great, but I'm wondering where I went wrong... Thoughts?


almost 2 years ago Anneliese Butler

One more question (this will be my first upside-down experiment) - any tips for making this recipes with fresh pineapple?


almost 2 years ago Abra Bennett

You can certainly make it in a 10" skillet, it will just make for a thinner cake, and might require a few minutes less baking time.


almost 2 years ago Anneliese Butler



almost 2 years ago Anneliese Butler

Would a 10" skillet be too big for this recipe?


over 2 years ago megken

A few notes...
- I used 1/3 of the brown sugar/butter mix and found it ample.
- Had some sticking to the edges of the skillet - definitely loosen before flipping!
Otherwise, a good recipe!


almost 3 years ago JenniferF

My cast iron skillets are all at our summer cottage so I tried this is a spring form -- oops! I'm losing some of the butter-brown sugar mix to the bottom of the oven. Hopefully, it'll still be okay!


about 3 years ago carole_nelson_brown

Oh my, I just made it using peaches and peach puree in place of the pineapple and it has got to be one of the tastiest things I have ever made, thanks so much!!


over 3 years ago Zaman

I can't wait to try this recipe!


over 3 years ago Corena Murray

I just made this to take to an Easter party later today. It's in the oven now and I can't wait to try it! I converted it to gluten free using Mama's Coconut Blend all purpose gluten free flour, and added a teaspoon of xanthan gum. I omitted the pecans for a friend who can't eat nuts, and added a little fresh chopped ginger and lime zest. I love using my cast iron skillet, and this is the first pineapple upside-down cake I've ever made! Thank you for the inspiration, and Happy Easter!


almost 5 years ago nutcakes

Is this made in an 8, 10 or 12 inch skillet?


over 3 years ago oranji

the instructions say to use a 9 inch skillet. hope that helps! :)


almost 5 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I made this last night for Mr L's birthday. It is fabulous!!!


over 5 years ago Abra Bennett

I think separating the eggs, adding pineapple juice to the cake batter, and the pecans are what sets this cake apart from the rest. And those old pans are magic too.


over 5 years ago dymnyno

My mother was not a good cook, but she was a good birthday cake was always a pineapple upside down cake and I have the old skillet that she used.


over 5 years ago Kayb

I love pineapple upside down cake, but would have never thought of the pecans -- what a great touch! My recipe is very similar, but it doesn't call for separating the eggs; I'll try that the next time I make it. And yes, the cast-iron skillet is essential.