Happy National Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Day! Really. Those golden pineapple and garnet cherry bites make this recipe perfect for a simple weeknight treat or a special occasion, and it most often reminds us of Mom … based on my highly unscientific Facebook survey.
When you and I first met, dear reader, taking classic recipes and giving them a healthy twist was what we were going to do together. Just not with this recipe! I’ll have a healthier version to share this summer, but this one is a golden-heritage variety and not to be amended.
“Because I said so!” is a classic mom-ism, as Maria Radwanski refers to the often-humorous sayings of her mother. Between the mom-isms and the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake recipe – passed to Maria’s mother from a great aunt in the 1920s – Maria has been blessed with many cherished mother moments.
“Mom had a beautiful but simple square, clear glass plate that she’d serve the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake on; it allowed the beauty of the caramelized brown sugar, yellow-brown pineapple and red maraschino cherries to display beautifully,” Maria says.
As a child, anything with a brown-sugar crust was cause for Maria to sneak into the kitchen and sneak nibbles of the sweet morsels. It didn’t stop with crumbles on a pie, but extended to the brown-sugar topping of this cake.
Maria’s fondest memories of this cake are from family picnics. Her mother, more of a baker with flair than a cook, would prepare this dazzling cake and an unforgettable chocolate cake with peanut-butter icing. In fact, you can visit my “2 Weird Hungry Girls” podcast to hear me talking with Maria about her family memories.
Maria also shared some of her favorite and oh-so-appropriate-for-Mother’s-Day mom-isms. A few are quirky and some are absentmindedly funny. “Hey, we all have a few cray-cray moments,” Maria says – and I wholeheartedly agree!
• Because I said so.
• Little children…little problems. Big children…big problems.
• Ok, everyone, time to go to bed. I’m tired.
• What stop sign, officer? I stopped!
• It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.
• Never burn a bridge.
• Everyone, be quiet. I want to smell the ocean.
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups loosely packed brown sugar
- 1 (20-ounce) can pineapple rings, drained
- Maraschino cherries
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 1½ cups sugar
- ½ cup cold water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Whipped cream
- Melt the butter in an 8” iron skillet over low heat. Stir in the blown sugar and spread evenly. Arrange the pineapple and cherries in the skillet (cut extra rings in half and place around the edge). Keep over low heat while preparing the batter.
- In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, water and vanilla until creamy.
- Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Pour into the skillet and spread evenly.
- Place the skillet on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any sugar that bubbles over). Bake at 350ºF for 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The top of the cake will be golden and crunchy, this should be expected when inserting the toothpick.
- Allow the cake to rest for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the skillet to loosen the cake, then place a serving plate over the skillet and invert it. Let the skillet rest on the cake for 5 minutes, then remove. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream
Note: An 11” x 7” x 2” or 8” x 8” baking dish can be used instead of an iron skillet; don’t heat a glass dish on the stovetop.