Foolproof Pineapple Upside Down Cake
This pineapple upside down cake recipe has been in my family for a long time. It is one of our favorite cakes to eat at the family weekend reunion with a big cup of coffee —Latinoamericanos, you know?
The main difference between this pineapple upside down cake and the rest of the zillion of recipes out there is the quality of the sponge cake. It is moist yet spongy. Usually, pineapple upside down cakes are kind of compact and soggy.
The key for this sponge cake is to separate the egg white and the yolks and beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. The trick is to add the egg whites last and not using the mixer. We need the air that the beaten egg whites have. This will be the source of the sponginess. You need to gently integrate the egg whites using a silicone spatula with evolving movements.
Another concern for the new bakers out there is the mythical finish of the pineapple slices. They must be perfectly aligned to give this cake its classical look. Many things can go wrong: the pineapple pieces get stuck into the pan, the slices are rearranged when you pour the batter and the end is kind of erratic, the pineapple slices get stuck in the dough and you cannot see it until you release the cake, etc.
After all the possibilities of what can go wrong with this cake, I have to tell you that there is a way to get a perfect pineapple top. The secret is the caramel. It must be thick enough to hold the shape of the pineapples after you pour the dough over. You can make it from scratch or buy it in the supermarket. If you buy it just make sure it isn’t a watery caramel.
How to make a perfect caramel?
I make my own caramel and it is pretty simple but you must work fast and carefully. In a matter of seconds, you can burn your caramel. This is the caramel that I always use in my quesillos.
You will need 6 tbsp of sugar (⅓ cup), 2 tbsp of water and a hot pan. First, you have to make sure that your pan is over medium heat. Add the sugar and don’t stir. This is usually the first mistake, stirring like the caramel was a risotto. Let the sugar melt and when the caramel is light brown add the water and BE CAREFUL. The caramel will splash a little bit — and there is nothing that burns more than hot caramel. Now you have to stir and quickly pour your hot caramel into your round cake pan—previously greased with butter—and spread. This must be done fast or your caramel will solidify. Now place your pineapple slices and the cherries. Lastly, add the yummy batter and the cake is ready to bake.
This way is almost impossible you don’t get a beautiful pineapple upside down cake. After baking, with the help of a knife try to lose the sides of the cake. Then wait until it’s chill before flipping the cake. If one slice of pineapple gets mildly stuck to the bottom of the pan you can gently take the slice and place in in the top. Nobody will notice it.
I hope you can enjoy this all-time classic recipe that will make your day a little bit sweeter.
- 3 cups self-raising flour
- 4 eggs
- 250 gr unsalted butter (note 1)
- 1 cup pineapple juice (note 2)
- 2 ⅓ cups of sugar
- 1 medium can of pineapple
- canned cherries as much as you want
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF)
Grease a round cake pan with butter and set aside.
Separate the eggs yolk and reserve the egg whites for later.
In a big bowl beat the butter with 1 cup of sugar, the vanilla extract, the salt and the egg yolks. Pour slowly half of the pineapple juice. Add 2 cups of flour and mix well. Now add the rest of the juice and the last cup of flour. Mix until a homogeneous batter is formed. (note 3)
In another bowl beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add 1 cup of sugar slowly until the peaks are completely firm.
With a spatula add the beaten egg whites with evolving movements. Try to be as gentle as you can to avoid losing air.
Prepare the caramel: Heat a small pan and melt ⅓ cup of sugar. When the sugar is slightly brown add two tablespoons of water and immediately transfer to the greased pan and spread to the bottom.
Place the pineapples slices as you like and garnish with some cherries. I like to put a cherry on each pineapple slice ( the classic look). Pour the batter and take it to the oven for 30 minutes until it’s fully cooked.
With a knife separate the cake from the baking pan. Wait until the cake is completely chill and then flip the cake onto a flat surface (like a flat plate).
- Make sure your butter is room temperature. If the butter is too cold it will form lumps and it will be harder to mix the batter.
- Try to choose a pineapple juice that has low sugar.
- In this stage, the batter will be super thick and that's completely fine. Later we will add the egg whites and they will soften the batter to the perfect point.