After starting my Church Cookbook Series recently, my husband asked me to make what he said was his favorite cake — a Pineapple Upside-Down cake. I thought for sure I would find the recipe in one of my church cookbooks, but I came up empty handed. I was kind of surprised, but decided maybe it was either a little old fashion or too fussy for the Church Ladies. My vintage 1961 Betty Crocker Cookbook came to the rescue — but not easily. This cake was not listed in the cake section, but in the “Desserts”. I guess when you gussy up a cake it becomes a dessert. Go figure.
This is also sometimes called a “skillet cake” according to Betty and for this recipe it is baked in a 10 inch heavy skillet — I used one of my antique cast iron skillets, but you can also bake it in a 9×9 inch square pan or a 10 inch round cake pan. I will say that the pineapple circles fits perfectly in the 10 inch pan with 6 around the edges and one in the middle. As Betty says, “It is a handsome dessert to serve at the table.”
The irony of making a cake your husband hasn’t had in 40 years and only remembers his mothers version is that no matter how wonderful something is it never going to be as good as his mom’s. Not deterred by this fact, I gleefully baked this pretty cake and excitedly served him a warm piece and waited for his praise. As he takes a bite, he suddenly remembers his mom used “crushed” pineapple not rings! This might have been useful information when I was making it. After he said this, I insisted Betty would never use crushed pineapple instead pineapple rings — how could she sacrifice the stunning look of this dessert for crushed pineapple — never. I tried to convince my hubby that his mom must have just done that because it was easier, less expensive or something. Then it happens — I am reading the recipe for this blog and NOW I see it there in parenthesizes – (crushed maybe used if well drained). Dagnabit! Don’t tell Eric — I’m pretty sure I had him convinced. Next time, however, I will try it the way his mother made the cake. He did have some good points, which make me think his engineering background might have a little to do with them –it is easier to eat when you don’t have to cut through the pineapple ring and had more pineapple taste in every bite. And next time I hope I can make the cake he remembers!
Moral of the story is if you are trying to make something you or someone else remembers fondly — ask lots of questions so you can find a recipe that most closely resembles that memory. This cake really looked gorgeous and was moist and delicious, but it wasn’t his memory. My opinion — I think you will be pleased whether you are going for stunning look or practical version either way you make it you will be the queen or king of cakes.
Keep it simple and enjoy!
- ⅓ cup butter
- ½ cup butter sugar (packed)
- 1 can sliced pineapple, drained (crushed may be used if well drained)
- 1½ cups of all purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- ⅓ cup soft shortening
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- ½ tsp. lemon flavoring, if desired
- 1 egg (1/4 to ⅓ cup)
- ¾ cup milk
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in heavy 10" skillet, or pour melted butter in 9x9 pan or 10" cake pan.
- Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter.
- Arrange pineapple in attractive pattern on the butter-sugar coating.
- Decorate with pecan halves and cherries if desired.
- Measure flower by dip-level-pour method or by sifting.
- Stir flour, sugar, baking powder, salt in mixer bowl.
- Add shortening, milk flavorings.
- Beat 2 minutes on medium speed in mixer or 300 vigorous strokes by hand.
- Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl constantly.
- Add egg.
- Beat 2 more minutes, scraping bowl frequently.
- Pour batter over fruit.
- Bake 40 to 50 minutes.
- Immediately turn upside down on serving plate.
- Leave pan over cake a few minutes.
- Serve warm with whipped cream