Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Recipe

The days are growing longer, the flowers are blooming, and the birds are singing, it's readily apparent that spring is in the air (unless, of course, you live in the Northeast, in which case, that's probably the snowplows, not the birds, you hear).

One of my favorite springtime desserts is an old classic, pineapple upside-down cake. Upside-down cakes can also be made traditionally with any chopped fruit, like apples or cherries, or, un-traditionally, with pears or cranberries. Me, I'm a traditionalist, and I'll stick with the pineapple.

Like many desserts, pineapple upside-down cake is high in flavor but also high in calories. Can it be made a little healthier while still keeping the original flavor? Of course.

One substitution is to eschew the white sugar for coconut palm sugar. Collected from the buds of the coconut palm, coconut palm sugar actually doesn't taste a thing like coconut. If anything, it's more reminiscent of brown sugar, with a slight caramel-y flavor, which plays well with tropical ingredients like pineapple.

Coconut palm sugar is mostly sucrose, not glucose, and has a low glycemic index, meaning that it's less likely to cause spikes and drops in your blood sugar. It is also rich in potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron, as well several B-vitamins. When cooking or baking with coconut palm sugar, it can be substituted for white sugar on a 1:1 basis.

Then, of course, there's the pineapple. It's easily found in a can, but depending on where in the United States you are, finding fresh pineapple isn't difficult. Most recipes call for a 20-oz can of sliced pineapple; a fresh two pound pineapple will yield about the same amount and taste that much better. You can easily core a pineapple with a pineapple corer, or simply slice the pineapple and use a small cookie cutter to remove the cores.

You could also omit the traditional maraschino cherries and use blueberries or strawberries instead, or, if you're feeling really hardcore (and like traditional cocktails), you can make your own! The maraschino cherries you see in supermarkets these days have been brined, preserved, and pumped full of so much food dyes that they're cherries in name only. Making your own can be as simple as dumping some fresh (never frozen) pitted cherries into a canning jar and topping it off with maraschino liqueur, giving it a couple of weeks, and voila! Maraschino cherries the way they were pre-Prohibition, and they are great not only for pineapple upside down cake, but also in a Manhattan, Old Fashioned, or the cocktail of your choice.

Another cool thing about pineapple upside-down cake? You can cook it in my favorite cooking utensil, a cast-iron skillet. Cast-iron provides nice, even heat for a perfectly caramelized top.

While this is usually a springtime dessert, there's no reason you can't enjoy this treat any time of the year.

This recipe, courtesy of, is a great starting point if you want to jump into the world of inverted desserts.

1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 (20 ounce) cans sliced pineapple, drained (or freshly sliced)
1 1/3 cups flour
1 cup coconut palm sugar
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
maraschino cherries, if desired

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine flour, coconut palm sugar, shortening, milk, baking powder, salt, and egg until well blended.

Melt butter in iron skillet.

Sprinkle brown sugar over butter.

Arrange pineapple slices on top brown sugar/butter.

Place cherries in center of slices.

Pour batter over pineapple in skillet and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Remove from oven and turn onto heat-proof plate.



Wikipedia, Coconut Palm Sugar found here.

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