Monday, April 25, 2011

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I first saw this cake on Paula Deen's show on the Food Network. It looked delicious and pineapple upside-down cake has always been one of my favorites. I just had to make it and I figured that Easter dinner would be the perfect occasion. 

The cake came out beautifully and definitely had a "wow" factor.  I really, really wanted to love it, but it just didn't happen.  It was by no means a bad cake, but I just wanted it to be so much more. I liked it and my dad, who has a much stronger sweet tooth, loved it.  For me, the sweetness bordered on cloying and I had to scrape the frosting off.  The topping was good, but again it was too sweet for me.  The cake itself was fine, but I found myself wishing that it had some actual flavor instead of just sugar and butter. Maybe I should have known, seeing that it was a Paula Deen recipe, and I am generally not a huge fan of hers. I solidly dispute the fact that all Southern cooking has to be either fried, hot or sugar and butter-laden.  My mom's side of the family is from Louisiana and when I was growing up, we ate many things that didn't fall into those categories. 

All gripes aside, here's my review:
  • Flavor/Texture: The cake part was a little too dense for my liking, and it was very rich. The pineapple topping was great, as usual.
  • Difficulty: Nothing too hard, aside from resigning myself to using 4 STICKS of butter!
  • Pros: I like the idea of a double-layer pineapple upside-down cake. Everyone loves the topping the best, so why not double it?
  • Cons: Butter, sugar, powdered sugar and more butter. Too rich and far too sweet for my personal tastes.
  • Misc: I cooled my cakes in the pans for one hour and then stacked them, rather than following the method in the recipe. I was trying to avoid moving the cakes too much.  I had no issues with the cakes cracking or settling. I added 5 tbsp of juice to the frosting because mine was far too stiff after only 2 tbsp. There would have been no way to spread it on the cake without thinning it out a bit. Next time, I would cut down on the brown sugar in the topping as well. 3/4 cup in each cake pan is an awful lot. I would scale it back to 1/2 cup per per pan.
  • Encore Performance: I won't make this cake as written again. I loved the look of it, but I actually prefer the flavor and texture of the recipe on the back of the boxed cake mix.  Can't win 'em all!
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Recipe by Paula Deen

Non-stick cooking spray
3 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting pan
1 cup butter, softened, plus 1/2 cup butter, melted
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup whole buttermilk
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 20-ounce cans of pineapple rings, drained well (reserve some juice for frosting)
1 jar maraschino cherries
Pineapple buttercream frosting (recipe follows)
Chopped pecans, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and coat with flour.

In a large bowl, beat 1 cup butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating until fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla and set aside.

In a small bowl, add the 3 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine. Add the flour mixture into the egg mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Divide the brown sugar evenly into each pan. Pour the melted butter equally over the brown sugar. Arrange the pineapple slices and cherries over the brown sugar. Reserve remaining pineapple slices and cherries for another use.

Pour equal amounts of batter over the fruit and bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto wire racks to cool completely.

To assemble the cake, carefully arrange 1 cake layer, pineapple side up, on a cake plate. Carefully stack the remaining cake layer, pineapple side up, over the first layer. Frost the sides of the cake with Pineapple Buttercream Frosting. Press chopped pecans into sides of cake, if desired.

Pineapple Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tbsp reserved pineapple juice
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Beat all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.


  1. I agree with your pros and cons. I made one too after seeing what you had planned. I cheated though. I used a boxed yellow cake mix and substituted store-bought cream cheese frosting. I did have problems with cracking of the top layer when I stacked them. I should have trimmed the dome from the bottom of the layers before stacking. But, I was able to man-handle it and get it back into shape.

  2. Mine didn't really dome at all. When Paula made it on the show, hers didn't either. Maybe that was a result of making the cake from scratch instead of the box. I think the boxed mix would have tasted better though :) Did the cream cheese frosting cut through enough of the sweetness for you?

  3. Thanks for the review on this. I was going to make it! Looking for great flavor...not just butter and sugar.