My Favorite Birthday Cake…

…Pineapple Upside Down Cake! My nephew (when he was very young) loudly complained that the Pineapple Upside Down Cake that set my face aglow when I saw it was NOT a birthday cake! It couldn’t be a birthday cake! It was flat!! It had no frosting!! No candles!! How could it be a birthday cake??? Years later, he and my sister secretly baked one for me!

To this day, I want – and usually get – a Pineapple Upside Down cake for MY birthday cake (yes, today is THE day) !

Here’s a bit of trivia for you: According to Ruth Reichl, former Food editor for the LA Times, Gourmet Magazine and foodie extraordinaire, when the predecessor to Dole Pineapple Co. sponsored a recipe contest back in the mid-1920s, of the 65,000 recipes submitted, 2,500 were for Pineapple Upside Down Cake! So I guess I’m in good company!

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

  • 2/3 c butter, divided
  • 2/3 c dark brown sugar, packed
  • 20 oz. can pineapple slices, packed in its own juice, drained & juice reserved
  • 10 maraschino cherries , drained well (more, optional)
  • Whole pecans, optional
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 c flour
  • 1-3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c sour cream

Preheat oven to 350. Be sure pineapple and cherries are patted dry with paper towels.

Melt 1/3 cup butter in 9″ or 10″ cast iron skillet. Remove from heat and add brown sugar. Stir until butter is blended and coated with butter. Lay a pineapple ring in the center of the skillet, on the sugar, then arrange rings all the way around. Place a cherry in the hole of each pineapple slice. Fill in the spaces between slices with additional cherries, pecans or additional pineapple chunks (or leave empty, your choice).

In a large bowl, beat remaining 1/3 cup butter with 1/2 cup granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, 1 tsp. lemon zest, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and salt and whisk together. Blend into creamed mixture alternately with sour cream and 2 Tbsp. pineapple juice (drink the rest of the juice). Beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually beat in remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar to stiff peaks (meringue) and fold into batter. Ladle or spoon over pineapple in skillet.

Bake for 35 minutes or until cake springs back when touched in center. Let stand in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto serving plate. (If any cherries or nuts stick to the pan, just peel them off and put them back on the cake.)

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