American pineapple upside down cake

Mama Baker’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Return of the Retro Favourite – The Pineapple Upside Down Cake

During the Spring of the 2020 covid19 pandemic, there was an upsurge in home baking and a big increase in the sale of flour. For more adventurous bakers, pineapple upside down cake was the cake of choice. Not only because the cake looks bright and cheerful, in difficult circumstances, the ingredients are also widely available in local supermarkets. 2020 brought the upside down cake back into style.The origin of upside down fruit cakes dates back hundreds of years to the middle ages, when people would make cakes using iron skillets, deep curved-bottom pans, over open fires.

In Summer and Autumn, they would gather strawberry, blackberries, apples and so on, and make cakes by lining the bottom of the pans with fruit, and pouring batter or by putting dough on top. When the cake was baked, the iron pan was flipped over, showing the brightly coloured fruit on top. The baking of these cakes persisted throughout the years but upside down cake with pineapple was virtually unheard of before the 20th century when fresh pineapples were a very rare commodity.

Pineapple upside cake only became fashionable in the early twentieth century after James Dole’s Hawaiian Pineapple Company began to mass produce canned pineapple. The taste for the cake waned in the middle of the century but it made a comeback and featured in the home baking boom of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Now this vividly coloured red and yellow cake returns to brighten your northern skies.


For the cake topping

50g soft butter
50g soft brown sugar
7 pineapple slices in syrup drained and syrup retained
17-20 glacé cherries

For the cake

100g soft butter
100g golden caster sugar
100g self raising flour
1 tsp baking power
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 free range eggs

Baking Method


Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4.


For the cake topping, beat 50g soft butter and 50g soft brown sugar together until light and creamy. Spread this mixture over the base and a quarter way up the sides of an 8 inch (20cm) round cake tin. Arrange the 7 pineapple rings on top (retaining the syrup for later), then place a glacé cherry in the middle of each pineapple ring and the rest between the gaps between rings.

STEP Three

Place 100g soft butter, 100g golden caster sugar, 100g self raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 2 eggs in a bowl along with 2 tbsp of the retained pineapple syrup. With an electric whisk, beat to a soft consistency.


Spoon the cake mixture into the tin on top of the pineapples and smooth it out so it’s even. Bake for 35 minutes. Leave to stand for 10 minutes, then turn out, inverted, onto a large plate. Serve slightly warm with custard or a scoop of ice cream.

Big Question of the Day

Chopped fresh pineapple or canned pineapple with syrup? This recipe is inspired by those that followed the mass production of canned pineapples in syrup, by James Dole’s Hawaiian Pineapple Company, in the early 20th century in the USA. Other recipes prefer canned fruit in pineapple or apple juice, trying to avoid sugar. In this case, I think the syrup trumps juice and tastes better.