This Pineapple Upside-Down Cake recipe is completely from scratch, with a tender, lightly spiced cake + brown sugar caramelized pineapple. It’s ridiculously delicious!

slices of pineapple cake with scoops of vanilla ice cream on white dessert plates

The BEST Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Recipe!

Last Easter I made a pineapple upside-down cake to follow up a cheesy hashbrown casserole and a gorgeous ham that Blake smoked on the Big Green Egg. It was a small Easter celebration, just us four.

I did alot of research (AKA googling) before making that cake, anticipating golden pineapple-y bites of sweet cake goodness. And while the cake was definitely pretty and fun with its retro cherry-studded top, that’s where the goodness ended. Sadly, it just wasn’t that great.

And this Easter? Well I have a winner of an upside-down pineapple cake to share with you!

This Pineapple Upside-Down Cake recipe is completely from scratch and ridiculously delicious. I love that the tender cake includes a bit of cornmeal and is lightly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. And that brown sugar caramelized pineapple – it’s such a beautiful thing!

A few more sweet treats, perfect for Easter and springtime: This Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie has been a favorite since my childhood. Everyone loves these Coconut Cupcakes with Fluffy Coconut Buttercream. If you’re a lemon fan, these Lemon Heaven Bars are truly HEAVEN! And if you like Carrot Cake, this recipe always gets rave reviews.

Zoe Bakes Cakes cookbook

Where This Recipe Comes From

This cake recipe comes from the pages of Zoë Bakes Cakes by Zoë François of Zoë Bakes.

Zoë lives right here in Minnesota, an exuberant, joy-filled baker with oodles of expertise and artistic talent. You might already know her from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day series that she authored with Jeff Hertzberg. Or from her gorgeous Instagram feed. Or maybe you’ve caught sight of the Zoë Bakes intro episode, a new series on Magnolia Network with Joanna & Chip Gaines.

Wherever you happen to know her, it’s glaringly obvious that Zoë knows what she’s doing in the kitchen. And her new book is perfect testimony to all the creativity and downright deliciousness she is capable of.

Just look at the Hot Chocolate Cake on that book cover – and that toppling of homemade marshmallows! Zoë is a master of marshmallows, and it’s been my pleasure on several occasions to enjoy her sweet, sweet handiwork.

She’s also an excellent teacher. So I very much appreciate the helpful “Cake Academy” section in the book, where she includes extensive tips and techniques for baking your way through her cakes.

If you like to celebrate with cake (who doesn’t?!), I highly recommend this beautiful book!

Zoë Bakes Cakes GIVEAWAY! Stay tuned to my Instagram – I’ll soon be giving away THREE copies of Zoë’s new book!

overhead photo of baked pineapple upside-down cake

So let’s make Zoë’s pineapple upside-down cake, shall we?!

ingredients to make cake, to include pineapple rings and juice, flour, cornmeal, powdered sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and butter

Ingredients

Besides some very typical baking ingredients, you’ll want to pick up a can of pineapple rings or chunks. And if you don’t have rum or cornmeal, grab some of that too.

Here’s everything you’ll need to bake this cake!

  • brown sugar – I LOVE how the brown sugar lends a deeper flavor and color to the caramelized pineapple.
  • unsalted butter
  • rum – It’s BEAUTIFUL in this cake. Please do not skip it!
  • kosher salt
  • pineapple rings or chunks in 100% juice – save the juice!
  • cake flour
  • cornmeal – I was super curious about including this ingredient in the cake batter. Turns out, it adds a super lovely texture to the velvety batter.
  • baking powder
  • ground cinnamon – Another wonderful addition that other pineapple cakes need to think about adding!
  • ground nutmeg – Same as I said about the cinnamon. :)
  • confectioners’ sugar
  • pure vanilla extract
  • eggs
  • heavy whipping cream

Zoë also includes a couple optional ingredients: star anise and chopped pecans – use them if you like.

close-up of pineapple rings, plus other ingredients to make pineapple cake
collage of photos showing different stages of making pineapple cake

How to Make Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

This cake is fun to assemble. There are a few different layers, but they’re all easy to make – I promise.

Here’s how to make it!

  1. Prep: Preheat oven to 375°F and grease an 8″ round cake pan.
  2. Add the topping layer: Combine the brown sugar, butter, rum, and salt. Spread into the prepared pan. Top with the star anise, if using.
  3. Add the pineapple layer: Arrange the pineapple over the brown sugar mixture. Sprinkle with the pecans, if using.
  4. Add the cake layer: Start by whisking together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt – set aside flour mixture. Next cream the butter with a stand mixer. Then mix in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs. Then alternate mixing in the flour mixture and a mixture of cream, pineapple juice, and rum. Scrape the cake batter into the pan, covering the pineapple.
  5. Bake: Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the cake is golden.
  6. Invert: Immediately after removing the cake from the oven, run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a serving plate. Voila! The best upside-down pineapple cake you ever did make!
a slice of cake with pineapple

Tips for the Best Upside-Down Cake

Just a few helpful tips, most of which are included in Zoe’s recipe notes:

  • If using pineapple rings, overlap them around the edge of the batter and then place one in the center. This will use up all the rings and give you pineapple in every bite.
  • And if you were wondering, don’t try substituting canned pineapple with fresh pineapple. The canned pineapple is juicier and makes for a better cake.
  • Always place the cake pan on a rimmed baking sheet before baking. Because of the wet bottom layer, which is actually the top, the cake bakes longer than a typical cake. And the juices will bubble up the sides of the pan to create caramelized edges. While this is definitely a good thing, it can create a mess in your oven if you don’t use a pan to catch those juices. I would even recommend lining the rimmed baking sheet with foil, for even easier clean-up!
  • If you have a baking stone, place it in the oven with the rimmed baking sheet on top. And then preheat the oven. This creates a “hot bottom” and helps the pineapple topping cook evenly. If you don’t have a stone, just preheat the rimmed baking sheet.
slices of upside-down pineapple cake with scoops of vanilla ice cream on small white plates

Can I Bake this Cake the Day Before?

I definitely recommend that you bake this cake on the same day that you want to serve it. It’s also best enjoyed while still a bit warm from the oven.

overhead photo of baked pineapple cake

How to Flip a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

  1. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, run a knife around the edge of the pan.
  2. Place your cake platter (or any plate that’s larger than your cake) over the pan, with the plate surface facing the cake.
  3. With both hands wearing oven mitts (the cake is hot!), carefully and very firmly grip both the side of the cake platter and the cake pan together.
  4. Quickly, carefully, and very confidently (!) flip everything over altogether, so the bottom of the cake pan is facing upwards. Set the cake platter down and carefully remove the hot cake pan. If you can’t quite grasp the cake pan, use a bread knife to lift/nudge the pan away from the cake platter.
a close-up photo of a slice of pineapple cake with ice cream

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Yield: 12 servings
prep time: 25 minutes
cook time: 40 minutes
total time: 1 hour 5 minutes
This Pineapple Upside-Down Cake recipe is completely from scratch, with a tender, lightly spiced cake + brown sugar caramelized pineapple. It’s ridiculously delicious!
5 Stars (1 Review)
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Ingredients

for the topping & pineapple layers:

  • ¾ cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter very soft but not melted
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons rum
  • 3 whole star anise optional
  • One 20-ounce can pineapple rings or chunks in 100% juice well drained – reserve the juice
  • ½ cup chopped pecans optional

for the cake layer:

  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon cake flour
  • cup cornmeal
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1.75 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream at room temperature
  • ¼ cup canned pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons rum

Instructions

  • prep: If you have a baking stone, place it in the oven. Then place a rimmed baking sheet on the stone. Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously grease an 8" round cake pan. (If using a springform pan, line it with a 9-inch piece of greased parchment paper to prevent leaking.)
  • for the topping layer: In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, butter, and salt until evenly mixed. Add the rum and stir until smooth. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan and top with the star anise (if using).
  • for the pineapple layer: Arrange the pineapple rings over the mixture. Sprinkle with the pecans (if using). Set aside.
  • for the cake layer: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute. 
  • Turn mixer speed to low, add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla to the butter, and mix until incorporated. Then turn the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl regularly for even incorporation. 
  • Turn mixer speed to medium-low and add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined. Scrape the bowl after each addition. 
  • In a measuring cup, stir together the cream, pineapple juice, and rum.
  • Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing on low speed, just until combined. Add half of the pineapple juice mixture and mix to incorporate. Repeat with another one-third flour, the remaining liquid, and then finish with the final one-third flour, scraping the bowl and paddle after each addition.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, covering the pineapple. Smooth the top with a spatula and tap the pan on the counter several times to release excess air bubbles.
  • Set the pan on the preheated rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the cake is firm and golden, and a tester comes out clean – about 40 minutes or so.
  • Remove cake from oven and immediately run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a serving platter. Let cool for about 20 minutes. Serve the cake warm or at room temperature. But I highly recommend enjoying it while it’s still warm!

Notes

  • If using pineapple rings, overlap them around the edge of the batter and then place one in the center. This will use up all the rings and give you pineapple in every bite.
  • And if you were wondering, don’t try substituting canned pineapple with fresh pineapple. The canned pineapple is juicier and makes for a better cake.
  • Always place the cake pan on a rimmed baking sheet before baking. Because of the wet bottom layer, which is actually the top, the cake bakes longer than a typical cake. And the juices will bubble up the sides of the pan to create caramelized edges. While this is definitely a good thing, it can create a mess in your oven if you don’t use a pan to catch those juices. I would even recommend lining the rimmed baking sheet with foil, for even easier clean-up!
  • If you have a baking stone, place it in the oven with the rimmed baking sheet on top. And then preheat the oven. This creates a “hot bottom” and helps the pineapple topping cook evenly. If you don’t have a stone, just preheat the rimmed baking sheet.
  • From Zoë Bakes Cakes by Zoë François of Zoë Bakes.

    Nutrition Information:

    Serving: 1 Calories: 372kcal Carbohydrates: 46g Protein: 2g Fat: 20g Saturated Fat: 10g Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g Cholesterol: 72mg Sodium: 152mg Fiber: 2g Sugar: 40g
    Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Spoonacular. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
    Did you make this recipe?Please leave a comment below. And share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #afarmgirlsdabbles or tag @farmgirlsdabble!

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    a slice of pineapple cake with a scoop of ice cream on a white plate
    a close-up photo of a slice of pineapple cake with ice cream

    I received a copy of Zoë Bakes Cakes for my use and review. All opinions are 100% my own.