Pineapple Upside Down Cake

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Everyone should have one: A cake recipe they know by heart and can whip up in a jiffy for dinner. Pineapple Upside Down Cake makes that possible. Using a cast iron skillet and just eight ingredients, you go from start to finish in just over an hour.

If the recipe sounds familiar, its because there are thousands of renditions, all just a little different, that home cooks have honed since the 1920s. This version, shared by Lois Mims of Pine Apple, Alabama is part of a collection of Southern cake favorites put together by baker/blogger Jodi Rhoden: Cake Ladies.

Jodi tells us that she was one year into running her Asheville, N.C. cake shop, two years into her cake blog and four years into being a mom when she started writing Cake Ladies Traveling the back roads of the South Jodi searched and met with lots of long-time cake-baking ladies with stories to tell and recipes to share. The result is a tribute to a lovely lineage of women who bake cakes as a tangible expression of love. Jodi captures each of their stories, along with their recipes and nuggets of wisdom. Among them? There’s Johnnie Gabriel’s Lemon Cheese Layer Cake, Jessica Grossman’s Hummingbird Cake, Tissy Pass’s Italian Cream Cake, and Mary Moon’s Fresh Coconut Cake.  If you don’t have it yet–get it! A lovely book, with nice homey recipes.

Makes 1 9-inch skillet-sized cake

Topping Ingredients

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 15-oz can pineapple slices in juice, juice drained and reserved
  • 1 jar maraschino cherries, stemmed

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp of the reserved pineapple juice


  1. Prepare skillet: Melt the stick of butter from the cake recipe in cast iron pan skillet you have set in the oven while it preheats to 375 degrees. Pour melted butter into mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Prepare topping: Place 1/2 stick butter in skillet and place back in oven until butter is melted but not sizzling. Remove skillet from oven; add brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Note: if sugar doesn’t dissolve, pop the pan back in the oven for another minute until the sugar melts a bit. Spread sugar evenly across the bottom of the skillet.
  3. Place one pineapple ring in the center of the skillet on top of the brown sugar. Arrange five more rings in a circle around the center ring. Cut the remaining pineapple rings in half and arrange the half-circles around the outside edge of the skillet, pressing them against the sides of the pan, cut ends up. Place a maraschino cherry in the center of each pineapple ring and pineapple half-ring.
  4. Make batter: Sift flour and sugar together into mixing bowl. Pour in melted and cooled butter, eggs, milk, and pineapple juice. Stir with a wooden spoon until ingredients are just combined and a few lumps remain. Pour the mixture over the fruit in the skillet. Smooth batter to ensure it covers all of the fruit. Place skillet on center rack in hot oven.
  5. Bake cake for 45 minutes until top of the cake is deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove skillet from oven and let cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the outside edge of the cake. Place a heat-proof plate over the skillet and flip to release the cake onto the plate. Allow to cool just a bit and then serve.

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