Now that I’ve introduced you to Filipino roadside fruit stands overflowing with pineapples and produce and I’ve showed you how to cut a pineapple fresh from the farm, I’m going to share with you how to make one of my all-time favorites: pineapple upside-down cake.  Thomas Keller has an amazingly simple recipe that uses fresh pineapples. Canned pineapples will work, too but fresh ones make it more elegant.

Making pineapple upside-down cake starts with making a “pan schmear” of butter and brown sugar and then pouring the cake batter over pineapple slices arranged in overlapping rings.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Recipe
Recipe adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home

For the pan schmear

8 Tbsp (1stick, 4 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp dark rum
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the butter, honey, rum, brown sugar, and vanilla and beat until smooth and well blended. Spread half a cup of schmear over the bottom of a 9-inch silicone cake pan. A metal cake pan will work as well, in fact, this is what we used here but make sure to grease the pan with butter before using it.

Here’s an important note. The recipe makes more schmear than necessary for a single cake but Keller points out in his book that it is difficult to make less. We tried cutting the recipe in half but had a challenging time beating it in the stand mixer. It was doable but a bit hard. When baking just a single cake, note that the schmear will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge or it can be frozen for future use.

Cut the peeled pineapple lengthwise into quarters.  Here is a link to learn how to peel and cut a fresh pineapple.

How to make pineapple upside-down cake

Cut off the core from each section and then cut each piece crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices.

How to make pineapple upside-down cake

Starting at the perimeter of the pan, arrange the pineapple slices, with the curved side facing out, and form an overlapping ring as shown in the photo. Make a second ring inside the first one, overlapping the pineapple slices in the opposite direction, working toward the center of the pan.

How to make pineapple upside-down cake

For the cake

1-1/3 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
8 Tbsp (1 stick, 4 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp milk

Sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside.

Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle and mix on low speed to combine, then beat on medium speed for about three minutes, until light and creamy. Stop to scrape down the sides of the mixer when necessary and continue mixing. Mix in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until the first one is fully incorporated before adding the second and again, stop and scrape down the sides when necessary. Beat in the milk. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, beating until well combined.

Put the batter into the cake pan and spread gently over the pineapple. Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the pan for even browning and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake in the pan cool on a cooling rack for 20 to 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the cake, invert onto a serving platter, and serve warm.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

One final word. Be generous with the schmear, which is really the good stuff that makes the cake extra moist. Keller calls for 1/3 cup of pan schmear, I would go ahead and even put 1/2 cup of this buttery-sugary goodness.

  • JPManuel

    I would so love to try this but we don’t have an electric mixer, only a hand-held one :-( It might now work out.

  • Jun Belen

    Hi Joy,
    You can make the cake even with a hand-held mixer. It’s a little harder but it’s definitely doable!!

  • Alisa-Foodista

    Yum!Ive been looking for a recipe like this! Thanks for sharing, I’ll make it real soon.

  • Myra

    I remember making this cake for Home Ec in Grade 6. Hmm… brings back fond memories. Will definitely try this again soon. Perfect dessert for summer.

  • cindy

    I have a question. My silcone pan is 9 x 1/2. do you think that is deep enough for should I buy a new pan?
    I love your presentation

  • Jun Belen

    Hi Cindy,
    Thanks for stopping by! I’m afraid your pan may not be deep enough when the cake rises. We used a metal pan instead of a silicone one and it worked just fine. Just make sure you greased it with butter. But otherwise, I think the recipe is a great excuse to buy a new pan! :-)

  • cindy

    oops 1 1/2 inches…not 1/2
    I am still wondering if 2 inches is necessary

  • Jun Belen

    We used a 2-inch deep metal pan and the cake rose almost to the level of the rim. I looked up silicone pans in amazon and bed bath & beyond and the dimensions are pretty standard: 1.7 to 2 inches. The Kitchenaid brand is 2-inches deep. So I think you’ll be fine. *But* to be on the safe side and avoid any mushroomed up cake, I’d still go and see if I can get a 2-inch deep pan.

    Hope this helps. And please let me know how it goes. Good luck!

  • cindy

    Hi jun, well the pineapple cake turned out looking good. It wont be eaten until the dinner party tonight. I have many pineapples in my future to perfect that cutting technique. That was my first pineapple. The individual pieces left something to be desired, but on the cake you cant tell how butchered they were. The metal pan, buttered worked just fine. Thanks for the advice.

  • Jun Belen

    Fingers crossed that the dinner party went well!! :-) Hope you are having a great weekend!!

  • cindy

    the party was good. The cake was a hit but the cake part was on the dry side (the cook in the family noticed that, he was the only one wwho would comment)
    We went over the ingredients, and shoot if I didnt miss the part about “cake flour”. I am going to try it again and see if that makes that big of a difference. Its a good learning lesson, since I am completely new to cooking and baking something not from a box!

  • cindy

    one more addendum for any other newbie who finds your blog…the cake flour and the fresh baking powder made all the difference. Since I didnt have more pineapple but had the schmear, I made poached pears ( from the french laundry cookbook and used them over the schmear. The cake was perfect!
    Thanks again for your blog!

  • Jun Belen

    Thank you for writing these notes, Cindy. I really really appreciate them. A couple of things that came to mind when you said that your cake was a bit on the dry side. The first was, did you use all purpose flour instead of cake flour? Even though it’s still unclear to me how the protein content affects how moist the cake becomes, using all-purpose instead of cake flour may still make a difference. Second, metal pans versus silicone pans. It’s still unclear tome as well if choosing one over the other makes a difference. I’ve read somewhere that silicone pans are preferred because of the ease of use. But the engineer in me thinks that metal pans conduct more heat and thus the cake bakes in a shorter time and they end up getting too dry. But I’d have to research on that and see if there’s sense in my claim. And another thing, the pan schmear helps in making it more moist. Thomas Keller suggests just using 1/3 cup of pan schmear but bumping it up to like 1/2 cup wouldn’t hurt and would make it more moist.

    Your poached pears sound lovely.

  • cindy

    Hi again, I love learning so this has been fun figuring out my mistakes. Thank you for the forum to learn! The cake flour mistake was a true baking lesson. My neighbors are now volunteering to be future taste testers.
    Interesting that you mention the conduction of heat in the metal pan. I wondered about that part of the equation, so I did bake it 4 minutes less the second time. I didnt add extra schmear…i laugh as I write this, but I didnt want to add any more calories! What a joke.

  • AAM

    What a great recipe and even better to learn from everybody’s experiences. So my first attempt of this cake ended up in a mushy pineapple side – wonder if that was because I kept the cake in the middle rack of the oven. Any suggestions? Comments (for next time)?

  • Jun Belen


    Thanks for your sharing your experience. I think the middle rack is where you want to place the cake. I hope you don’t mind if I ask you a few questions. Like did you use a metal pan or a silicone one? How long did you bake the cake for? Did you test the middle of the cake with a toothpick before taking it out? Did you use canned or fresh pineapples? How much of the pan schmear did you use? I think a big part of the dryness (or moistness) of the cake depends on these things I asked you. Looking forward to your reply.


  • AAM

    Middle rack is where I had it (for 45 mins), before I found out that the cake was quite mushy, that is when I moved it to bottom rack for another 15 minutes.
    Metal pan around 1.7 inches tall, the middle of the cake test did not expose the mushy bottom, it came out dry.
    All fresh pineapples, infact I could fit just about 60% of one whole pineapple.
    Also based on previous blog entries, I used 1/2 cup schmear, instead of 1/3rd.

  • Jun Belen

    From what I understand, the cake was okay but the top (which was actually the bottom since it’s an upside-down cake) is mushy. I think it should be mushy – like moist because of the pan schmear and the pineapples. I think that’s what makes the cake really good – that it’s nice and moist on top. But if it’s too moist or mushy then I would cut back on the schmear. I guess it all boils down to your preference. I really like a moist top but if it’s too much, like what I said, cut back on the schmear. I hope this makes sense.

    Have a great weekend!

  • AAM

    Thanks the cake did not look as good as it tasted – less schmear next time!

  • jen

    Hi Jun, I came across this recipe and your blog through TasteSpotting. Just made the cake and it turned out wonderful. Thank you so much for your tips on cutting and taking out the eyes of the pineapple. My mom does it the same way, but it’s nice to see it step-by-step on the computer as she’s over 400 miles away from me now :)


  • Jun Belen

    Thank you, Jen!! So glad to hear that it turned out great. I really like how elegant the cake looks – very different from the usual pineapple upside down cakes with the pineapple rings.

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  • Risa Palacio

    Thanks for the recipe! I tried it last weekend and it turned out gorgeous and absolutely delish!

  • Jun Belen

    Thank you for writing, Risa. I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the cake!

  • Risa Palacio

    I love your blog! The pics are amazing. I’m gonna make this cake again for my bff’s birthday next week. Thanks again, Jun! Keep up the good work :)

  • Rachel

    Can I make this cake the day before, and a bit before eating it just warm it up in to oven again on a really low temperature? or would that do something weird?

  • Jun Belen

    Yes, Rachel. It’ll be fine to make the cake the day before and reheat it in the oven before serving.