This is the BEST pineapple upside down cake recipe EVER! It has a caramel topping with pineapple rounds over a dense cake with almond flour. Make it for family gatherings and potlucks!
Photography Credit: Elise Bauer
The single most requested cake at our family and friend gatherings is my father’s homemade pineapple upside down cake. It is the best pineapple upside down cake recipe, hands down. He’ll look for almost any excuse to make it, and we never get tired of it.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake from Scratch
This pineapple upside down cake is dense, like a sour cream pound cake, with ground almonds in the flour to give it even more substance and a slight almond flavor.
The caramel pineapple topping is so good, you’ll want to pick every crumb. (Here’s some more on the history of Pineapple Upside Down Cake if you’re interested!)
The Best Pan to Use
You’ll need a high-sided 10-inch cake pan for this recipe, like this one.
If you don’t have a high-sided 10-inch cake pan, you might try making this in a springform pan. If you do, line the inside with foil so the caramel doesn’t leak, and bake on a rimmed baking sheet just in case it does.
How To Make the Caramel Topping
There are a couple of ways to make the caramel topping for this cake. The easiest way is to just melt brown sugar and butter together. This is the default method for the recipe.
My father prefers using white sugar (with a little corn syrup) instead of brown sugar to make the caramel base. He caramelizes the white sugar and corn syrup first, before adding butter. (Instructions are in the Recipe Note below if you’d like to try his method). He prefers white sugar to brown sugar because brown sugar has flavors of molasses that he doesn’t want in the cake. A small amount of corn syrup helps keep the sugar from crystallizing.
His approach uses twice as much sugar, but creates a deeply flavorful, rich topping for the cake. Both toppings work, feel free to use either one!
How to Store Pineapple Upside Down Cake
This cake is delicious served the day it’s made, and is so rich and moist it will still taste wonderful for several days. Just cover it with plastic wrap and store it at room temperature or in the fridge.
The cake freezes well. To freeze, just wrap the cake tightly with plastic wrap and then with aluminum foil. Unwrap the cake before defrosting it in the fridge or at room temp.
Love Upside Down Cakes? Try These
Updated July 10, 2019 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle! No changes to the original recipe, though the alternate caramel topping has been updated.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe
If you don’t have a high-sided 10-inch cake pan, you might try making this in a springform pan. Line the inside with foil so the caramel doesn’t leak, and bake on a rimmed baking sheet just in case it does.
My dad’s alternative caramel topping: 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, 1/4 cup light corn syrup, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup butter. Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a medium saucepan. Heat on medium until all sugar is dissolved. Boil until syrup becomes warm amber in color (5 to 10 minutes). Remove from heat. Add 1/4 cup butter, carefully as it will foam up a bit. Swirl the pan so that the butter is all incorporated, stirring with a wooden spoon if necessary. Pour out into cake pan. Continue with recipe as noted.
For the topping:
- 1 cup (200g) of firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 can (20 oz) of pineapple slices (Dole brand works best)
For the cake:
- 1 1/2 cups (200g) all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons (55 g) cake flour
- 6 tablespoons ground almonds (from about 2 oz or 56g of blanched almonds)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 cups (350g) of sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 8 candied or maraschino cherries
1 Grease the pan with butter: Generously grease (with butter) a 10-inch diameter non-stick cake pan with at least 2-inch high sides.
2 Make caramel topping: Heat brown sugar and butter in a medium sized saucepan on medium heat until sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbly, several minutes. (After sugar melts, don’t stir.)
3 Pour into pan, top with pineapple slices: Pour the caramel mixture into the pan. Arrange pineapple slices in a single layer on top of the caramel mixture.
4 Preheat oven to 325° F.
5 Make cake batter: Whisk the flours, ground almonds, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the sugar and butter together until light. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
Add dry ingredients alternately with sour cream in 2 additions each, beating well after each addition.
6 Pour cake batter over caramel and pineapple in pan. Spread the cake batter over the pineapple and caramel so that it is smooth on top.
7 Bake: Bake the cake at 325°F until a tester inserted into the center comes out mostly clean (internal temperature of about 205°F if you have an instant read thermometer), about 1 hour.
8 Turn out cake: Cool cake in pan on a rack for 5 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a platter, after the cake has cooled for 5 minutes, and while the cake is still warm.
If some of the topping sticks to the cake pan (it often does), just scoop it out with a butter knife and patch the cake.
9 (Optional) Add cherries: If you want to add candied or maraschino cherries for decoration, just put one in the center of each pineapple round.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
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