In its early days, upside down cake was a cast iron skillet cake, cooked over an open-fire. Once supported by legs, the heavy skillets were dubbed ‘spiders’ which lead to the moniker, “spider cakes.” The advent of flat-bottomed cast iron skillets opened the oven door to new possibilities.
The ingenuity of James Dole, the “Pineapple King,” coupled with the invention of the pineapple ring cutter would make the once elusive tropical fruit readily available to home bakers. In 1925, Dole Pineapple sponsored a contest for pineapple centric recipes, amassing more than 2,500 variations on the upside-down cake theme.
By the 1930s, rings of pineapple and neon maraschino cherries were making indelible memories in kitchens across America. When boxed cake mixes arrived on supermarket shelves, pineapple upside down cake became an easy to prepare ‘busy day cake.’
Rose Levy Beranbaum’s version, adapted from “The Cake Bible,” is my favorite. Pineapple sprawls across the top and also around the sides, cradling a rich yellow batter. Some might frown upon my use of Wisconsin cherries over maraschino, but either will happily compliment the caramelized brown sugar. The only enhancement might be a dollop of whipped cream.
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Professional Pie-isms & Seasonal Sarcasm