The original skillet cake, pineapple upside-down cake recipe was born in a publicity campaign from Dole pineapple nearly a century ago. The company was eager to build awareness for its brand, so it asked American cooks to submit their favorite recipes using canned pineapple. As the recipes rolled in, a majority were for a pineapple cake baked in an iron skillet, then flipped upside-down to serve. Skillet cake recipe.
The original skillet pineapple cake, flipped upside-down to serve
The name stuck. I had never been a huge pineapple upside-down fan because the cake was often dry, but I was determined to create a recipe for a moist cake that could live up to the caramelized brown sugar, butter, and pineapple wonderfulness on the bottom of the skillet. Here it is. The cake is essentially a hot milk sponge cake. Feel free to use a 20-ounce can of sliced pineapple rings, but if you are going to make this cake for a special birthday dinner or potluck, try fresh, ripe pineapple!
1 (2- to 3-pound) ripe pineapple
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1¼ teaspoons salt
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
⅓ cup vegetable oil
Dark rum, for drizzling (optional)
Whipped cream, for serving (optional)
1. To make the topping, cut off the top of the pineapple and then cut off the skin, taking care to remove all the “eyes” of the pineapple. Quarter the pineapple lengthwise and cut away the core. Cut the pineapple quarters crosswise into ⅜-inch slices.
2. Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar until the mixture bubbles, about 4 minutes. Pull the skillet off the heat. Arrange the pineapple slices in concentric circles on top of the butter and sugar, beginning at the edges of the pan and overlapping the pieces slightly (see Note). Set the pan aside.
3. For the cake, heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts, about 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and remove the pan from the heat.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
5. In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar and eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture is thick and lemon-colored, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the oil and blend to combine. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and hot milk mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the flour, and beat until smooth. The batter will be runny. Pour the batter over the pineapple in the skillet.
6. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the cake is golden and springs back when lightly pressed on the center, 40 to 45 minutes. Let the cake rest in the skillet for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the skillet to loosen it. Place a flat platter, board, or plate over the skillet and invert the skillet so the pineapple ends up on top. Replace any pineapple still stuck to the bottom of the skillet. If desired, drizzle the top of the cake with dark rum. Let the cake cool for 30 minutes, then slice and serve with whipped cream, if desired.