As noted on foodhistory.com, the history of pineapple upside down cake is quite fascinating!
It was invented because several other convenience items were developed that gave the housewife time to make a cake pretty as well as delicious
The idea of cooking a cake upside down, is an old technique that started centuries ago when cakes were cooked in cast iron skillets. It was easy for cook to add fruit and sugar in the bottom of the pan and a simple cake batter on top and put it over the fire to cook.
Then flipping it over onto a plate was a natural way to show the pretty fruit and let it run into the cake as well.
The idea of the pineapple soon after 1911 when one of James Dole’s engineer had invented a machine to cut his pineapples into nice rings. Soon the convenient and pretty rings were used in this age old technique of the skillet cake. The invention of the maraschino cherry added the necessary color needed to make this cake stunning.
The first recorded recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake according to John Mariani’s ( The Dictionary of American Food and Drink , Revised Edition, 1994), “The first mention in print of such a cake was in 1930, and was so listed in the 1936 Sears Roebuck catalog, but the cake is somewhat older.” In Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads (1995), Sylvia Lovegren traces pineapple upside-down cake to a 1924 Seattle fund-raising cookbook…While rooting around in old women’s magazines I found a Gold Medal Flour ad with a full-page, four-color picture of Pineapple Upside-Down Cake–a round cake with six slices of pineapple, candied red cherries, and a brown sugar glaze. The date: November 1925.”
— American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century , Jean Anderson (p. 432)
My recipe is anything but your usual canned pineapple and Maraschino cherry upside down cake! I’ve adapted an existing recipe that used fresh caramelized pineapple and vanilla infused caramel glaze that soaks into the inverted moist cake. With an elusive hint of tropical coconut flavor, this cake is something that won’t be forgotten easily.
The elusive coconut flavor comes from a double hit of coconut oil and coconut flour, both of which impart intense coconut flavor without any stringy coconut bits. If you don’t have access to either, just substitute melted butter for the coconut oil and all-purpose flour for the coconut flour. You won’t get the coconut flavor, but you’ll still get a wonderfully moist rich cake.
Why is my recipe called “worldly” you ask? I use rare spices and flavors that are literally from all over the globe, making my adaptation of this recipe a symphony of harmonized flavors and the finest cake of its kind! 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
Caramelized Pineapple Topping:
1 tub or more of fresh pineapple pre-cut into 7 rings
150 g (¾ cup) white granulated sugar
4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons dark rum
¼ teaspoon fresh ground grains of paradise (or just use black pepper, if unavailable)
¼ teaspoon freshly-ground cardamom
1 Mexican vanilla bean
½’ed maraschino cherries (you can skip these if you prefer, but I’m a traditionalist on this point)
1 cup + 2 tablespoons cake flour
75 g (½ cup) coconut flour (or use all-purpose flour if not available)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ras-el-hanout (if unavailable, use ginger powder)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 large egg yolks at room temperature
½ teaspoon sea salt
200 g (1 cup) white granulated sugar
½ cup melted unsalted butter
½ cup melted coconut oil (or just use regular butter if unavailable)
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (preferred) or extract
½ teaspoon hazelnut extract
Place the 150 g sugar in a heavy-bottomed pot with a silver bottom (try to avoid nonstick, as the dark bottom will make it hard to judge the color of the caramel), and cook over medium heat until it starts to melt. As it begins to melt, stir with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon to ensure that all the sugar heats up.
Continue to cook until the sugar starts to brown. When it does, turn off the heat and let the residual heat caramelize the sugar, until it is an evenly translucent golden brown. If it is not caramelizing fast enough or stops, turn the heat on to low to give it a little nudge.
Once the sugar hits golden-brown, carefully add the butter (it will steam and sputter at you, so use caution) and then add the pineapple slices and carefully turn them to evenly coat. If the caramel seizes and hardens don’t worry it’ll melt again while you cook it. Add the rum and bring the heat to medium-high and cook until the hardened caramel bits melt and the liquid starts to boil.
Turn down to medium low and simmer the caramel until the pineapple turns golden brown, about 8 to 12 minutes and toughens slightly. Remove the pineapple slices with a fork, and reduce the heat to low. Add the ground grains of paradise and cardamom. Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the caramel. Cook for another 3 or 4 minutes until the caramel is thick and syrupy. Remove from heat.
Preheat an oven to 350˚F. Lightly spray a 9” x 9” round pan with cooking oil and then line with a piece of parchment paper, making sure the parchment paper overhangs the edges by a couple of inches. This will allow you to remove the cake without worrying about any pineapple pieces sticking to the pan. The cooking oil will help stick the paper in place.
Arrange the pineapple slices on the bottom of the pan. Spoon and scrape the caramel sauce over the pineapple slices.
Place the flours, baking powder and ground ras-el-hanout in a medium bowl and then, using a balloon whisk, vigorously stir the dry ingredients together to a uniform consistency.
Place the eggs, egg yolks and salt in a large mixing bowl and beat with a whisk until uniform in color and you can’t see any egg whites. Add the sugar, butter, coconut oil, vanilla paste and hazelnut extract to the eggs and beat until incorporated. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until incorporated.
Scrape the cake batter over the pineapple pieces, then hit the bottom of the pan on a hard surface (like your countertop) to make sure the cake batter settles into the crevices between the pineapple slices. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the center of the cake spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes on a wire rack and then place a serving plate over the cake pan and invert to remove cake. Gently remove the parchment paper. Add maraschino cherries (if using) into the center of each ring and serve warm or at room temperature.