Saturday, January 1, 2011

Flour's Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
I had previously made an easier Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, but this recipe from Flour proves that a little more trouble can really make it worth your while.  A homemade caramel takes some time but isn't hard to do, and fresh pineapple soaks up the caramel.  The cake is rich and moist but crisp at the edges.

Cut Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
If I had one complaint, it's that the caramel was just a tad too sweet.  Just a tad.  But my preference for sweets isn't the same as everyone else's, and Joe said the cake and level of sweetness were perfect.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
I get intimidated by caramels because of how easily those damned crystals form, but this one was simple enough.  The sugar-water mixture starts out clear, then develops a golden tinge.  At bottom-left, you can see the outer ring is still clear and the pot needs to be swirled before the whole mixture becomes golden brown.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake1
I'm glad Joe helped make this, not least because it's really hard to snap photos while whisking burning-hot caramel!  Butter is whisked in, making the caramel steam and froth; pineapple is added and cooked in the caramel, then removed to a plate before being placed in the cake pan.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake2
The caramel is poured over the pineapple, and then topped with the cake batter.  After the cake is baked and cooled, it gets up-ended onto a serving platter.  Each bite gives you a little burst of juice from the caramelized pineapple, and cake that's rich and moist.

Old-Fashioned Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
From Joanne Chang's Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe
Makes one 9-inch cake (Serves 10)

1 pineapple
1¾ cups (350 grams) sugar
½ cup (120 grams) water
6 tbs (¾ stick/86 grams) softened unsalted butter, plus ½ cup (1 stick/114 grams), melted and cooled
1 cup (140 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp kosher salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
3 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

Using a serrated knife, peel, halve, and core the pineapple, then cut into ¾-inch-thick slices.  Cut the slices in half.

Put ¾ cup (150 grams) of the sugar in the bottom of a medium saucepan.  Add the water and gently swirl the pan to moisten the sugar; if necessary, poke your fingers around the bottom of the pan to make sure all of the sugar is moistened with water.  Place the pan over high heat and leave it undisturbed until the contents come to a rolling boil.  Then continue to boil rapidly without moving the pan until the sugar syrup starts to caramelize.  This will take 3 to 4 minutes: the sugar syrup will boil furiously; then as it thickens, it will boil more languidly; and then you will see some of the syrup start to color and darken around the edge of the pan.

When you see color in the pan, gently swirl the pan in a circular motion so the sugar caramelizes evenly, and then keep swirling gently until the caramel is a medium golden brown.  Turn down the heat to low and whisk in the 6 tablespoons butter; be careful, as the caramel may sputter and steam.  Carefully add the pineapple and stir until it is coated with the caramel.  Don't worry if some of the caramel hardens; it will reliquefy as it continues to cook.  Turn up the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Then turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the pineapple turns golden brown.  The pineapple will release juice and liquefy the caramel.  Using a fork, transfer the pineapple to a plate.  Continue to boil the remaining liquid on medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until thick and syrupy.

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Generously butter a 9-inch round cake pan.

Add all of the pineapple and the caramel syrup to the prepared pan, arranging the pineapple in concentric circles and covering as much of the bottom of the pan as possible.  Cut the pineapple quarters into smaller pieces to fill in any gaps, and double layer the pineapple if there is extra.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks until blended, then slowly whisk in the remaining 1 cup (200 grams) sugar, the vanilla, and the ½ cup melted butter.  Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture until well combined.  (Mine was lumpy but baked up fine.)

Pour the batter evenly over the pineapple in the cake pan.  Tap the pan gently on a countertop to get rid of any air bubbles in the batter and to make sure the batter fills in any crevices in the pineapple and settles into the bottom of the pan.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and springs back when pressed in the middle with a fingertip.  Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 30 minutes, or until cool enough to handle.

Place a serving plate upside down on top of the cake pan, then holding the pan and the plate tightly together, carefully invert them.  Lift off the cake pan.  If some of the pineapple sticks to the pan, remove it and replace it in its place on top of the cake.  Let the cake cool for at least another 30 minutes, then serve warm or at room temperature.

The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.


  1. Although I love pineapple, I've never made a pineapple upside down cake. This looks amazing. I am saving this recipe! Happy new year!

  2. Ryan tends to have more of a sweet tooth than he would probably think that the caramel was just perfect! This cake looks and sounds delicious. Great job! Thank you for sharing this with us. Many blessings and much hope for the New Year!

  3. I don't think I have ever had a pineapple upside down cake. Your recipe and photos have definitely enticed me into making one! Thanks for sharing.


  4. Mmm, this cake looks absolutely divine. I've never made a pineapple upside-down cake, either. But, it looks relatively simple and well, how can anything of Joanne Chang's be bad?!?! Thank you for sharing and making us drool ;-)

  5. I just received Flour for my birthday and I have a pineapple ready to use. I think this is a sign that I need to make this.

  6. I have a strong, strong desire to eat the caramel soaked pineapple on its own. At least I'd save calories not getting to the cake part! Happy new year :)

  7. It's been forever since I had a pineapple upside down cake. Now I'm craving that caramelized fruit flavour. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I have never made pineapple upside down cake! Yours looks delicious however, and I might just have to try making it! Beautiful cake!

  9. I too prefer things a tad less sweet than most people .. that said, I could probably eat homemade caramel with spoon ; )

  10. I gave up on upside-down cake years ago, because mine would never release from the pan leaving a messy top. I think you've inspired me to give it another try! Happy 2011!

  11. My this is a pretty cake. Delicious!

  12. I am so craving this. Could you send me some?

  13. I love Pineapple upside down cake, but of course you know that!! See great minds think alike! I love those pineapples, you did such a great job with them, caramelizing the pineapple was a nice touch!
    Have a great weekend!

  14. Such respect for people who take on ambitious endeavors like...BAKING! :) Hats off.
    Your cake looks yum!


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