Ever since I was a child, the mere mention of dessert would fill my heart with joy, but nothing compares to the first time I tasted Crushed Pineapple Upside Down Cake.
It was at my grandmother’s cozy kitchen, where the sweet aroma of caramelized brown sugar and pineapple would dance through the air, heralding a treat unlike any other. I remember sitting at the old wooden table, watching with wide-eyed wonder as she skillfully flipped the cake, revealing a golden, glistening top studded with juicy pineapple and cherries.
That first pineapple cake slice bite was a revelation – a perfect harmony of sweet, tangy, and buttery flavors that seemed to encapsulate all the warmth and love of her kitchen.
Since then, this cake has not just been a dessert; it’s a cherished memory, a symbol of comfort and joy that has the power to turn any gathering into a celebration.
Now, whenever I bake this cake, I’m transported back to those magical moments, and with each slice, I hope to offer not just a sweet treat, but a piece of that timeless joy and warmth.
Best-Ever Crushed Pineapple Upside Down Cake!
- 1 can (20 ounces) of crushed pineapple, drained
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- Maraschino cherries (optional, for decoration)
For the Cake
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup whole milk
Preheat the Oven & Prepare Pan:
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
- In a 9x13 inch baking dish, melt 1/2 cup butter in the oven. Once melted, sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the butter. Spread the drained crushed pineapple over the brown sugar. If using, place maraschino cherries around the pineapple; set aside.
Mix Dry Ingredients:
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
Cream Butter and Sugar:
- In a large bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter with the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
- Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated.
Assemble the Cake:
- Carefully spoon the batter over the pineapple layer, spreading it evenly.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert it onto a serving plate. Let it cool slightly before serving.
- Drain Pineapple Well: Ensure that the crushed pineapple is well-drained to prevent the cake from becoming too soggy.
- Browning the Sugar: Melting the butter and brown sugar in the oven helps to create a rich, caramelized layer.
- Even Spreading: Be gentle when spreading the batter over the pineapple to prevent mixing the layers.
- Check for Doneness: Every oven is different, so start checking the cake a few minutes before the suggested baking time.
Enjoy your crushed pineapple upside down cake with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an extra treat!
History of the Pineapple Upside Down Cake
The history of the Pineapple Upside Down Cake, especially its variant with crushed pineapple, is a fascinating journey that intertwines the evolution of cooking technology, the ingenuity of home bakers, and the commercialization of canned pineapple.
- Skillet Cakes: The concept of cooking a cake upside-down is centuries old. In the days before ovens, cakes were often cooked in cast iron skillets over an open flame. Fruit, sugar, and butter would be placed at the bottom of the pan, with a simple cake batter poured over the top. Once cooked, the cake was inverted to reveal a beautifully caramelized fruit topping.
- Pineapple Introduction: Pineapples, native to South America, were introduced to Europe and North America in the 15th and 16th centuries. However, fresh pineapples were rare and expensive until the advent of canned pineapples.
The Rise of Canned Pineapple
- Canning Revolution: The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw a revolution in food preservation, with canned foods becoming increasingly available. This included canned pineapples, which suddenly made this exotic fruit accessible to the masses.
- James Dole’s Influence: A significant figure in popularizing pineapple was James Dole, who founded the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (later Dole Food Company) in the early 1900s. His efforts in canning pineapples in Hawaii played a pivotal role in making pineapple a staple ingredient in American households.
The Birth of Pineapple Upside Down Cake
- 20th Century Innovation: The Pineapple Upside Down Cake as we know it today started gaining popularity in the early 20th century. This was partly due to the invention of the maraschino cherry, which added a pop of color and sweetness to the cake.
- Recipe Contests and Magazines: Recipe contests, women’s magazines, and cookbooks began featuring variations of upside-down cakes using canned pineapple. These recipes were particularly popular in the 1920s and 1930s, coinciding with a boom in home baking.
- Crushed Pineapple Variant: While the earliest versions used pineapple rings, the innovation of crushed pineapple allowed for a more even distribution of fruit throughout the cake, creating a moist and flavorful dessert. I love the crushed pineapple cake style as the mixture is easier to eat!
Cultural Impact and Legacy
- A Symbol of Hospitality: The pineapple has long been a symbol of hospitality and welcome. The Pineapple Upside Down Cake, with its attractive and inviting appearance, became a popular choice for social gatherings and family events.
- Evolution and Variations: Over the years, the recipe has evolved, with variations including different types of cake batter, additional fruits, and even different methods of preparation. However, the basic concept of caramelized pineapple topping a moist cake remains a beloved tradition. There is also my favorite- the pineapple upside down cake shot, YUM!
The Crushed Pineapple Upside Down Cake stands not just as a delicious dessert but as a testament to culinary innovation and the democratization of exotic ingredients like pineapple. Its sweet, tangy flavor continues to be a favorite in kitchens around the world, embodying a rich history in every slice.