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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

by Chef Megan Joy on June 14, 2012

Ahh, summer.

They say you come for a winter out here, experience a summer, and then never leave. Hard to argue. This is my favorite time of year and I try to soak it up as much as I can.

I feel particularly blessed going into this summer season with more creative freedom than I have ever had in my life. A chance to finally work on all of those business ideas I’ve always had and chase those dreams.

It’s important to work hard and earn your way in the world. But to some extent as well, life should feel full, happy, and lived. I have been out in Colorado for almost three years. Until recently, my entire Colorado time has been spent working non-stop in restaurants. And I had reached a point where my job was holding me back from taking my skills to the next level.

What a shame it would be to never say I got to experience Colorado.

But back to the pineapple-upside down cake. The other day I returned from a hike to a message from my friend Michelle.

Her husband, Chris, had a birthday coming up. And he loves pineapple-upside down cake. Chris is a hard-working firefighter and an all-around good guy.

Michelle wanted to make his birthday really special, with a cake mix-free pineapple upside cake. So we decided on this bad boy.

It’s a tender, pineapple-scented cake enhanced with a hint of rum and vanilla bean. The cake is baked on top of a layer of fresh, sweet pineapple and a brown sugar sauce. When the baked cake is inverted, all that gooey sauce soaks into the cake to create a treat even better than mom’s. Shh!

How to bake this high altitude recipe:

Pineapple-Upside Down Cake (adapted from Gourmet Magazine and The Smitten Kitchen)

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Recipe type: High Altitude
  • Topping:
  • ½ medium pineapple, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cored
  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • Cake:
  • ¾ stick (3 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 vanilla bean pod, split and scraped, seeds reserved
  • 1½ tablespoons dark rum
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup pineapple juice
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. To prepare the topping, cut the pineapple crosswise into ⅜″ thick slices. Melt the butter and brown sugar in a sauce pot and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and pour into a 9″ cake pan. Carefully arrange the pineapple slices on top of the brown sugar sauce.
  4. To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  6. Mix in the vanilla bean seeds and rum.
  7. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Alternately add to the batter with the pineapple juice, mixing just until combined.
  8. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixer bowl and ensure everyone in the batter is happy and evenly distributed.
  9. Spoon the batter over the topping and spread it evenly. Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top and edges of the cake are a light golden brown and the center springs back when lightly touched.
  10. Cool for 5 minutes, then carefully invert the cake onto a serving platter. Replace any pineapple stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Note: This recipe is adjusted for high altitude baking. To bake at sea level, increase the baking powder to 2 teaspoons, the sugar to 1 cup, and keep an eye on your baking time. The cake may take longer than 30-35 minutes.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Dean Randall July 20, 2014 at 10:51 am

This turned out great. Can I add nuts ?


Chef Megan Joy July 20, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Hi Dean, yes you can.


Cam F August 15, 2014 at 10:58 pm

This looks great! Can I replace the pineapple with banana? Would I need to replace the pineapple juice as well, or could I omit it?


Chef Megan Joy August 19, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Hi Cami, yes, you could replace it with banana. Just make sure to put a layer of greased parchment paper down on the bottom of the pan before layering your banana slices so they don’t stick. Instead of pineapple juice, substitute milk or pureed banana. Happy baking!


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