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What do the pineapple upside down cake, carrot cake and key lime pie bake offs have in common? All were desserts I hadn’t eaten very often previously but ignited a deep infatuation afterwards. (In case you’re curious, M&M cookies and banana bread were two bake offs that pushed me the opposite direction.)
While in search of the best pineapple upside down cake recipe, I discovered so many benefits to PUDC. Not only is it one of the most aesthetically pleasing cakes, it’s also so fun to flip (rarely sticks to the pan!). And how you can beat the glossy pineapple-infused jammy caramel on top of a fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth yellow cake? You can’t. Let’s get into these delicious cakes.
METHODOLOGY // RESULTS // FACTORS // ANALYSIS // RECOMMENDATIONS
What is Pineapple Upside Down Cake?
Per this article, the origins of pineapple upside down cake are rooted in cast-iron skillet cakes made hundreds of years ago. As stoves were historically not very reliable, skillet cakes were an easy way to cook via the stove and invert the cake to reveal a topping. Once James Dole found a way to can mass amounts of pineapple in the early 1900s, pineapple upside down cake was born.
Pineapple upside down cake is composed of a topping of pineapple, butter and brown sugar with a vanilla cake batter poured over. After baking, you invert the cake onto a plate for a beautiful final product with caramelized pineapple on top! I did wonder for a minute whether this was a valid bake off or if it’d be a repeat of the vanilla cake or yellow cake bake off. But I quickly realized that the pineapple topping makes it an entirely different beast.
Although pineapple upside down cake can commonly include maraschino cherries, nuts and sometimes rum, I only tested recipes that didn’t use nuts or alcohol for consistency. Not in keeping with the roots of the dessert, I also didn’t use any cast iron skillets. This is because 1) most recipes called for a regular cake pan/offered a cake pan alternative and 2) I don’t currently own a cast iron 😢. More on not using cast iron below!
- 33 total tasters
- All 9 recipes were baked the day of tasting
- All cakes were baked in cake pans specified by the recipe
- Tasters ranked each cake on a scale from 0-10 for overall flavor, texture, and as a whole
- Ingredients were measured by weight according to the King Arthur website
- Gold Medal bleached all-purpose flour
- Trader Joe’s butter
- Crisco butter-flavored shortening
- King Arthur cake flour
- Bob’s Red Mill baking powder and soda
- Daisy sour cream
- Diamond kosher salt
- Whole Foods 365 Pineapple Slices in juice
- Favorite Day maraschino cherries
- Imperial granulated and powdered sugar
PARTNER NOTE: I’m delighted to be partnering with Imperial Sugar on this bake off as I’ve consistently used their consistent, high-quality pure cane sugar products throughout my bake offs. Imperial Sugar is non-GMO verified, allergen free and gluten-free!
For more sweet inspiration, you can visit Imperial Sugar to find more than 4,000 expert-tested recipes, free downloadable vintage cookbooks, sugar scrubs and bath products at the Sugar Spa, and lots of helpful guides on their blog. You can also check out their Pinterest, You Tube, Instagram for even more recipe inspiration!
As with most bake offs, I think these are all fantastic recipes that are all worth making! It simply depends on your preference for drier/moister cake, more/less richness, etc. My personal favorites actually didn’t really align with the ultimate results–they placed around the middle of the pack. But I do think the top recipes are absolutely well-deserved. I encourage you to read through every cake description to find your ideal pineapple upside down cake!
- Pineapple type: I was extremely curious to see if fresh pineapple would make a significant difference vs. canned. Ultimately, I think both have pros and cons. Canned pineapple is more consistent in both flavor and consistency. Fresh pineapple will obviously be more variable depending on how ripe it is. I found that fresh pineapple generally had a slightly more complex flavor with more tartness that contrasted against the caramel. However, I think these are generally interchangeable. So if you can’t access fresh pineapple or you’re simply too lazy to cut one up, canned works very well!
- Pineapple technique: Many of these recipes called for a simple technique of layering melted butter, brown sugar and pineapple in the bottom of the pan before topping with cake batter. A few called for cooking the butter and sugar together first while only one recipe (F&W) called for cooking the pineapple in the butter and sugar. I don’t think the first two techniques had a notable difference. But I do think that cooking the pineapple IN the butter/sugar obviously leads to a richer/more caramelized-tasting pineapple. Though the pineapple gets sliiightly more tender, it won’t get soggy! I’d recommend it if you’re worried your pineapple isn’t optimally ripe or if you want that extra complex flavor. But if you want a fresher, more pure pineapple flavor, I’d stick with a simpler topping technique.
- Eggs: Although I knew there would be a lot of confounding factors in this bake off, I was curious to see if egg whites vs. whole eggs with whipped whites vs. whole eggs added with yolks and whites separately vs. whole eggs added all at once would make a difference. In the end, the egg white cake (Sally’s) felt drier and less rich than virtually all other cakes. I don’t think the varying techniques of adding whole eggs made an apparent difference in the rest of the cakes. So bottom line is I’d just add the eggs whole and wouldn’t bother whipping the egg whites!
- Fat: In a somewhat surprising turn, butter-based cakes topped the charts this time! In the bake offs, cakes made with half butter half oil cakes historically tend to prevail for their balance of moisture and flavor. I do think the toppings greatly influenced the ratings here (obviously detracting from the flavor/texture of the cake itself). Also, the top two cakes were the only cakes to use the reverse creaming method. I think this made for a really delightful texture and another possible that propelled these butter-based cakes to the top.
- Dairy: The main types of dairy that enhanced these cake recipes were sour cream, milk, buttermilk and heavy cream. There weren’t really any clear themes of which type of dairy tended to do better (again, so many confounding factors). The top three ranked recipes used milk, sour cream and no dairy (just pineapple juice). Ultimately, a note that the dairy isn’t a huge factor as the cake is a sum of its parts.
- Flour: In this bake off, the flavor of the bleached cake flour really stood out to me vs. the cakes made with all-purpose flour (in a good way). I describe it as giving things a “doughy” flavor in some of the below cakes. Not sure if I’m just getting more sensitive to the flavor of cake flour or if it stands out more in PUDC for some reason. But I really enjoyed the kind of starchy sweet flavor of cake flour in some of these cakes! The best way I can think to describe the taste of cake flour in a cake is a Lofthouse cookie–that flavor basically embodies cake flour flavor to me, particularly when it’s used in conjunction with an ingredient like sour cream.
Analysis of the Best Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipes
Taste of Home: a tall, slightly dry cake with a straightforward topping and whipped egg whites
Taste of Home advertises this recipe as the “original recipe that won the 1926 Dole Pineapple Company contest.” As it seemed to be as close as I’d get to the origin of pineapple upside down cake, I considered this close to the benchmark cake (it had very standard ratios of butter/flour/sugar/eggs), but it does include the unusual technique of whipping the egg whites separately before folding them in. The topping was a very simple situation with just melted butter, brown sugar, canned pineapple and cherries placed in the pan (no cooking required). Although the recipe calls for a cast-iron skillet, it also suggests that you can use a 9″ cake pan, which is what I used.
By now, hopefully you all know that I will avoid whipping egg whites unless absolutely critical, and unfortunately (or fortunately), I don’t think the whipped whites added much to this texture. While I typically like a close crumb, this one felt a bit dry and crumbly and lacking in flavor, which I think may be due to the relatively high ratio of flour. Although it was much improved with the pineapple, the ratio of cake to pineapple felt overwhelming and I wished for more caramel to tie everything together. (It uses a relatively modest amount of butter and higher amount of brown sugar, but I’d add a little more butter next time.) I do think this cake would probably be better off made in a 10″ cast iron skillet (leading to a less thick cake base and possibly more caramelization (and thus flavor)). Ultimately, I’d still eat this again but it wouldn’t be my first choice for the cake base.
- I really liked how this cake tastes but I think it was a little crumbly in texture. The flavor was complex which was fun–it was more than just sweetness of the cake and the tartness of the pineapple. I think the caramel and the butter really developed into a deeper flavor which was delightful to eat.
- The flavor was ok but I loved the mouthfeel of the cake – texture of this cake was perfection
- Besides almond, I didn’t get many other hints of flavor from this cake. Nice, simple overall and a topping with a decent texture but very average in my opinion.
- The cake to other stuff ratio felt a bit high (i.e. a bit too much cake vs. fruit), maybe because the cake part also was a tad dry. The flavor of the cake was very sugar forward (vs. butter or vanilla or something else), which went okay with the pineapple but the main lingering aftertaste was just sweetness from the cake.
- The cake was very sweet and gummy in texture once I started chewing. The pineapple was not very flavorful. The cake was also quite tall so there was not a great balance between pineapple/topping and the cake itself.
Sally’s Baking Addiction: a fluffy white cake with a delicate pineapple crown
Sally updated her original recipe in 2020 to use “creamed butter instead of melted, cake flour instead of all-purpose flour, all white sugar instead of brown sugar + white, and using egg whites” for a huge textural difference. She also omits the pineapple juice as it produces a wet crumb (there’s enough pineapple flavor in the topping) and only egg whites as she says yolks will weigh down a cake that’s already weighed down by the fruit topping. Sour cream is used for a tender cake crumb, milk to thin out the batter, and the pineapple and cherries get blotted to reduce liquid so you avoid an unpleasantly wet cake.
More than any other recipe, this struck me as a distinctly white cake that happened to have pineapple on top. While this cake is beautifully fluffy and light, I found it a tad bit dry and not as flavorful as others. While some juice did seep into the cake, it didn’t have the level of syrup that I wanted, making for a lighter, more delicate effect overall. A great light option for pineapple upside down cake if you love white cake and don’t want an overly decadent version! Note: I did bake this in a 9″ pie dish and found the cake cracked around the top after I unmolded it, so I would stick with a regular 9″ cake pan next time.
- This was fluffier and the pineapple felt nice and light, rather than overtaking the entire taste of the cake
- Nice light, delicate sponge but not as custardy/caramely as I would have liked. Cake didn’t really have a pineapple-forward flavor.
- Decent white cake/almond flavor to this one, but just a little dry texture to the crumb. Would have liked for it to be slightly more moist.
- The cake is a teensy bit dry, and overall the cake doesn’t have a ton of flavor. The cake by itself is fairly bland and there isn’t much flavor in the pineapple besides canned pineapple – I don’t get any caramel or butter or vanilla to add interest to the canned pineapple flavor.
- The cake was very spongy but it tasted kind of boring, like boxed white cake. Nothing really connected the cake to the pineapple sitting on top.
Baker by Nature: a spongy, fluffy cake with a hint of spice and a lighter pineapple flavor
Ashley’s recipe stood out for its oil base (no butter) along with cake flour, milk, sour cream, pineapple juice and cinnamon in the cake. Her pineapple topping is also interesting with butter and brown sugar basically melted together (not cooked long enough to be a true caramel) before adding a dash of heavy cream.
I’m a sucker for the almost doughy, distinctively cakey flavor that bleached cake flour lends to a cake (Stella Parks explains why bleached cake flour tastes so distinct here), so I loved the flavor of this cake. Texturally, it was more open and spongy in a way that reminded me of grocery store cake (not my favorite), but many loved the moist fluffiness. While I generally don’t prefer spiced pineapple upside down cakes, this had such a mild amount of cinnamon that it was quite subtle. The pineapple topping felt nicely sweet but not overwhelmingly decadent, a good balance to the cake. (If you don’t have heavy cream, I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it as I don’t think it added much.) Overall with the lack of butter and addition of pineapple juice in the batter, this felt like a lighter option both texturally and flavor-wise (though a bit more decadent than Sally’s, of which I preferred the closer-crumbed texture).
- Satisfyingly moist.The browned syrup felt decadent. Liked that it wasn’t too sweet and the cinnamon came through well.
- This was light and delicious. I didn’t find the pineapple overwhelming, the cake was really tasty (even on its own) and the texture was not dense.
- I loved this one. The flavor was absolutely perfect. It reminded me of my grandma’s recipe. Also a little dry, but the pineapple had permeated it so much you could barely tell. Old school recipe. I liked it so much.
- This one was more moist than some of the others (maybe oil?) but also felt like it wasn’t as rich/pineapple-y.
- This one has some spices in the cake that make it a really great mix of tangy from the pineapple and comfort. Great texture, with the topping not too mushy and really liked the way this one came together. I’m not a pineapple upside down cake person but would eat this again.
- The caramelized edge had a nice buttery brown sugar flavor but the non-edge bites were a little bland, mainly because the cake by itself is bland and also a tad greasy.
- This cake was probably my least favorite–it was tougher/heavier and kind of felt cornbread-y. The flavor was fine, kind of simple here
Inspired Taste: an airy, cinnamon-forward cake spiked with citrus and topped with fresh pineapple
I was determined to test this recipe because it shares a technique from one of my favorite pancake recipes–adding the egg whites separately from the egg yolks (but the whites are NOT whipped). Adam and Joanne claim this makes for the best cake texture and while I don’t understand the science behind why, I like to put my blind trust in techniques like this. This is a butter-based cake that uses all-purpose flour, sour cream and either lime or lemon zest in the batter (I used lime). The topping consists of softened butter smeared in the pan with brown sugar, cinnamon, and fresh pineapple on top.
This cake had an airy and fluffy but slightly drier texture to the cake (though more moist than Taste of Home and Sally’s). I’m not convinced the egg separation made for a singularly well-textured cake. Flavor-wise, I wasn’t a huge fan of the citrus or the more prominent cinnamon flavor, but there were plenty of tasters who enjoyed this flavor profile! I loved the tender sections where the pineapple juice seeped into the cake, but there was definitely a lesser caramel ratio in this cake compared to others. If you like cinnamon and/or citrus in your pineapple upside down cake, this is the one for you!
- I really liked the flavor of this one. The cinnamon (and citrus?) definitely makes it stand out, and the added flavors worked nicely with the pineapple. It tasted like there might be a touch of added acidity in the fruit layer (maybe orange or lemon juice?), which I also liked.
- Great citrus, pina colada vibes. Nice spin on the flavor, not your basic pound cake. Not traditional but hits. Surprised me.
- Liked the spice to it, maybe a nutmeg, cinnamon, or all-spice. Really taste good with the pineapple. The cake was a little drier but you didn’t notice eating it because the top was so moist.
- Very cinnamon-forward, buttery, and tasted like a streusel. This cake definitely gave me holiday vibes, and wasn’t the flavor profile I’m looking for in a pineapple upside-down cake. Overall, I would’ve appreciated this cake more during the holidays, but wasn’t feeling it in July.
- Love(!) the hint of lemon and that the cake is relatively moist. Dislike the spice (is that cinnamon)?
- The cinnamon was weird, and I can’t say it added much. It was kind of overpowering and made the flavor one dimensional. There was also not much of the caramel layer in between the pineapple and the cake–it just was like a pineapple placed on top of cake. The cake however was very good, very fluffy and light
Boston Girl Bakes: a soft, tender, moist and flavorful cake with a light pineapple topping
Heather’s recipe caught my eye because it uses that prized combination of butter and oil in the cake along with buttermilk and cake flour. This recipe was one of the easiest overall to make partially because the topping is a simple melted butter + brown sugar + canned pineapple and cherries formula. The cake itself uses melted butter (no creaming!) and a very straightforward mixing method before getting poured over the topping and baked.
I was stunned after I ran the numbers for this bake off and saw where Boston Girl Bakes had scored because this was far and away my favorite cake! Close-crumbed and tender, the cake the was meltingly soft and moist with great flavor (again with the slight doughy flavor from the cake flour offset by the tang of the buttermilk). Interestingly, there were a lot a taster comments around the almond flavor of this cake which I think came from the cherries. I will admit that there wasn’t as much caramel melding the topping and cake together, which would be my one note for the cake. Otherwise, perfection in my eyes!
- It seems like an angel food cake base, which I actually love for the texture. It didn’t get mushy from the pineapple, held its consistency and was very moist without being syrupy.
- A (delicious) vanilla/yellow cake with pineapple on top. If you just ate the cake, you’d have no idea it had anything to do with pineapple. That said, the cake is delicious! The pineapple, when you get a piece, tastes phenomenal as well.
- I liked this cake overall– the almond flavor of the cake was really nice, and worked with the pineapple. It’s lighter but the texture is fluffy and still moist. I think the flavors perhaps could have been more developed.
- This seemed like a pretty standard, classic pineapple upside down cake. Honestly not much stood out, good or bad. I think the cake to fruit ratio was good (not too much cake) and the cake was decent on its own (not dry, nice hint of vanilla), so the pineapple flavor could come through. I would have liked maybe more caramel or brown sugar flavor.
- This cake was slightly drier and I felt I could taste maybe it was almond extract more. My husband liked this better than the first because he said it tastes “cakier” and less “pineapple-y”
- I thought the pineapple was too tart, wish it was more caramelized. The cake itself tasted like a pound cake with subtle almond notes. Slightly mushy texture.
Divas Can Cook: a rich and buttery, moist cake with a beautifully caramelized top
Monique’s thoroughly-tested recipe follows a similar formula as Boston Girl Bakes with half butter, half shortening. However, I was most intrigued by Monique’s use of heavy whipping cream (and a little whole milk) in the cake batter as I felt this extra boost of fat would likely be a winner. Happily, the topping is another simple situation of melted butter, brown sugar, canned pineapple and cherries laid in the pan. Note: I couldn’t find butter-flavored shortening near me, so I used regular shortening – so please assume this cake can only taste better than what I’m describing.
With a beautifully soft and close texture, this was a close contender for my favorite cake along with Boston Girl Bakes! I felt the textures were quite similar (Divas was maybe a hair drier) and the flavors of both felt extremely rich–I think Divas was thanks to the heavy cream. Divas had a slightly more generous amount of butter and sugar in the topping as well as a less tall cake, which led to a more generous (ideal in my opinion) ratio of topping to cake. Overall, loved this cake–I would only give a slight edge to Boston Girl for its simpler technique (no creaming of the butter) and simpler list of ingredients (no shortening or heavy cream.)
- I like the brown crust on the top (caramelization of the brown sugar). The cake is nice and balance and the texture is really nice. My favorite part of pineapple upside down cake is the brown sugar crust and this one really delivered on it.
- This one had a good density, good almond undertone too the flavor and was overall a well-balanced, firm yet moist cake. Would eat this one again!
- This was different! I’m guessing crushed pineapple? Cake was moist with a nice crumb. Again I preferred more caramelization and more fruit but I can’t say I wouldn’t eat more of this!
- This cake was a little oily, but as a result the bottom was crispy which was absolutely delicious. It was also rich and had a good flavor. I didn’t get too much pineapple from it though.
- Flavor tastes a bit peculiar— almost like pancake batter. It distracted from the flavor of the pineapple.
Smitten Kitchen: a fluffy, buttery cake with fruity undertones and a perfectly jammy pineapple top
I debated long and hard whether to include this “benchmark” cake over Flour Bakery’s cake enriched with extra egg yolks. (Note: I did skip the rum in this cake for consistency with the rest of the alcohol-free cakes.) Funnily enough, some tasters still thought this had rum in it. Ultimately, I decided to include it as another variation on the “benchmark” recipe–this uses similar ratios to the OG Taste of Home recipe, but it doesn’t whip the egg whites and uses pineapple juice in the batter instead of milk. In a similar vein, this recipe also calls for a cast-iron or a 9″ cake pan (I used the latter).
I think this cake was a crowd pleaser for its generally fluffy, buttery flavor that wasn’t too mushy (as some people found Boston Girl and Divas) nor too dry. Several commented on the “lighter” flavor of this cake and one person noted that it tasted “tropical” which I wonder if that’s due to the use of pineapple juice in the cake with no additional dairy to muddy the flavors. Smitten Kitchen uses essentially the same topping technique and proportion of butter and brown sugar as Divas–the main difference in the topping is fresh pineapple vs. canned pineapple. This is one data point that fresh pineapple may generally be preferred over canned since tasters generally seemed to prefer the jammy flavor of this cake. Another recipe that’s easy to make–the most labor-intensive part is cutting the pineapple–with an absolutely delicious payoff. (If you use canned pineapple, I love the efficiency of using the leftover juice in the cake!)
- Ooo a little rum. Delicious complex flavor. Great pineapple to cake ratio. This one was so good, almost perfect.
- Not as rich tasting as 1/5 but a very nice flavorful, buttery cake. Seemed like a lighter and brighter take on things!
- This cake was more dense and tasted tropical (this is the first word that came into my mind!). Definitely tasted the pineapple throughout
- Cake is a tad dense but the ratio of cake to pineapple is good (not too much cake). Even without actual pineapple in the bite, there is a pineapple-y/fruity aftertaste in the cake, which is nice. Overall much more pineapple-forward than [Taste of Home, Baker by Nature, Divas Can Cook], kinda wish it had more caramel or brown sugar/butter notes.
- Tastes just like the Chinese pineapple cakes! Buttery cake with jammy and syrupy pineapple flavor. Cake was on the dry side.
- I liked the texture of the cake but the flavor isn’t doing much for me. The cake is a little sweet but there’s no distinct flavor until you get to the pineapple.
Food & Wine: a finely crumbed vanilla cake topped with deeply caramelized pineapple
This Food & Wine recipe comes from pastry consultant Kristin Ferguson from Firefly Bistro in South Pasadena, California. This recipe caught my eye as it uses a full vanilla bean in the pineapple topping which cooks the pineapple until tender in a butter-sugar concoction. It also caught my eye for its reverse creaming method along with sour cream–nearly guaranteeing a tender, close-crumbed texture that I suspected I would love. (Note: many comments noted that this recipe topping is too watery as written so I did reduce the leftover liquid after removing the pineapple for about 5 minutes until it was more of a syrupy rather than liquid-y texture.)
Because you have to cook fresh sliced pineapple for 20 minutes, this is one of the more technically fussy cakes. However, I think it really pays off if you’re looking for a complex, caramelized, vanilla-forward flavor. While other toppings might taste a tad “fresher,” this topping tastes like pure pineapple candy in a really addicting way. I also loved the tender texture of this cake with a hint of tang from the sour cream. The edges were deliciously caramelized and chewy and the cake felt not as sweet in contrast to the very sweet topping. Another decadent cake that I loved! There were a lot of comparisons to the Shutterbean recipe, but I think this taster comment sums it up the best: “this is basically [Shutterbean] but binge eat-able; great flavor, moist cake, and just rich/buttery enough to not be overwhelming.”
- My favorite out of all the cakes! The flavor excellent with strong molasses and caramel notes and an incredible vanilla flavor that paired nicely with the pineapple. The cake was also fluffy, dense, soft, and moist, but not too wet.
- This one was amazing!!! Not quite as good as #1 which blew my mind, but it comes pretty close. I think the vanilla adds SO much to the flavor here, and the texture is really great– it’s light and soft, but not too rich. I also really liked how the caramel layer is thicker here, between the fruit and the cake.
- Nice moist, slightly denser textured cake which I prefer to a spongier cake (for pineapple upside down cake anyway). I liked the more the more cooked down texture of the pineapple as well. The flavor wasn’t super complex but also not one note – did taste the butter, brown sugar, and (slightly jammy/cooked) pineapple, as opposed to some cakes which just tasted like vanilla cake with canned pineapple on top.
- This was more aligned with how I felt about [Shutterbean]. I’m suspecting a separate caramel was made which created a rich, intense flavor. Cake was just right, flavorful with a nice moistness.
- Excellent texture. Velvety, melt in your mouth, but not overly buttery. Flavor was kind of boring, but not bad. Just a pretty standard pineapple background on a butter cake. Would eat again.
- I thought the cake was pretty moist. I enjoyed the flavor but did find it a little bit too sweet and not as balanced as some of the others
Shutterbean: a decadent, buttery cake that is nearly half caramelized pineapple goo, half moist cake
I found this recipe on Shutterbean, but it originally comes from Beverly Gannon, pastry chef at The Hali’imaile General Store in Maui. Upon originally reading the recipe, I wasn’t sure if I could actually throw a cake into the mix that uses a whopping 4 sticks of butter and 8 egg yolks. (Granted, this does make a 12×3″ cake, which is an unusually large cake.) It’s a fairly simple formula that uses cake flour, milk, and a reverse creaming method. The topping is light on the details of how you create the caramel (“mix until smooth and mixture is a light brown”) but I had a feeling that with this much butter, nothing could go seriously awry. (Note: the recipe calls for fresh pineapple (which I used), but Tracy used canned pineapple and it was also great!). While Tracy worked around the unusual pan size by making 3/4 of the recipe and using a 9″ pan, I made the full recipe in a 9×13 and it worked well.
Overall, I’m glad I tried this cake! It is INCREDIBLY rich with an almost 1:1 layer of caramelized buttery topping to soft and tender cake. The interior is a rich golden hue from all the egg yolks and I think the combination of the yolks, cake flour and generous amount of butter contribute to the pillowy soft texture. Reverse creaming gives the already well-formulated batter a super fine, close-textured crumb that remains deeply moist but somehow not soggy under the syrup-heavy topping. Flavor-wise, it is of course deeply buttery with a topping that tastes like a sugary pineapple jam. It’s incredibly decadent and while I think you could easily get away with reducing the butter by at least a stick, it’s worth every bite.
- This cake is AMAZING! Beautiful complex flavor, so rich and buttery, moist and tender texture, and I especially loved the crispy bottom. Pineapple was super prominent and caramelized. I honestly don’t know how you could improve it.
- This cake was by far my favorite, and honestly made me rethink pineapple upside down cake. The pineapple part by itself is really flavorful – jammy, concentrated pineapple flavor, soft enough to cut with a fork. I am guessing it was made with fresh pineapple? And the ratio of the jammy pineapple to the cake is great (not too much cake), and the generous amount of butter, caramel-y syrup makes the whole cake SO rich and flavorful. It’s almost more of a (British, saucy) pudding than a cake maybe, but I’m not complaining!
- Super super buttery, loved the caramelization on the crust; however I probably wouldn’t be able to consume more than one slice at a time because it’s so rich
- Great caramelization and buttery taste. This cake was perfectly fluffy, dense, and moist but not too wet! One of my favorite cakes, but a bit too sweet for my liking.
- Buttery, moist, and drenched in syrup. The syrup was delectable but the layer between the pineapple and cake was soggy.
- A little too sweet. Texture is very syrupy.
Tips for Making the Best Pineapple Upside Down Cake
- Pan size: I found that most pineapple upside down cakes call for a 9″ pan which I think is because the canned rings of pineapple stack perfectly within a 9″ pan (and it probably leads to a better ratio of cake topping). I generally prefer using a 9″ cake pan over a 9″ pie pan because of the straighter edges. While I generally don’t mind subbing an 8″ pan for a 9″, I do think the ratio of batter to topping is important here. So if the recipe calls for a 9″, use a 9″!
- Pan type: I do think the cakes baked in thinner metal pans got better caramelization on the pineapple topping while those baked in glass pans barely caramelized. I’d opt for metal if you can!
- Maraschino cherries: While these of course add a lovely aesthetic pop of color, I was surprised at how many tasters detected an “almond flavor” in the cakes that used the cherries. This flavor seepage was something I hadn’t considered and something to note if you like/dislike almond flavor!
- Lining the pan: Seemed absolutely unnecessary. There’s so much syrup and butter in a typical PUDC that every cake slid right out of the pan.
Best Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recommendations
Erika’s Picks: Boston Girl Bakes, Divas Can Cook
Decadent showstoppers: Shutterbean, Food & Wine
Lighter options: Smitten Kitchen, Sally’s Baking Addiction, Baker by Nature
Best moist and flavorful but not over-the-top cakes: Boston Girl Bakes, Divas Can Cook
Least work, best payoff: Boston Girl Bakes
Best spiced flavor: Inspired Taste
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text mistake lol
speaking of what pan to use, I found that using a Teflon walk that you can put in the oven works the best. plus it gives the cake a unique shape and the pineapple rings are able to cover more of the cake bc they go all over the sides as well as the top. I hope this us helpful and useful to someone!! Happy baking ya’ll!
wok. sorry that was a voice to
text mistake lol
How do I get a copy of these recipes please!! 🙂
I tried Boston Girl Bakes and followed the recipe exactly. While it was a beautiful cake, it was a bit too dry and the cake itself has no pineapple flavor for my foodie sensibilities. My family loved it though.
So sorry to hear you found it too dry! I’m glad your family liked it–I might recommend Shutterbean next time for a more moist cake.
Hmmm… I’ll try the ones you liked simply because I don’t have the time for fussy recipes.
The simple ones appears to be almost as delectable!
Thanks for this!!
Having never had a pineapple upside-down cake, I learned a lot reading through this bake-off! I’m very intrigued by the one that a taster said resembled a Taiwanese pineapple cake. Thanks for another great bake-off!
Love these! Thank you for your commitment and your friends commitments to devour and grading. I cannot wait to try the winners of this taste test.