My great-grandmother made this cake all the time when I was a kid, and I absolutely loved it. It is one of the first recipes I tried to when I was first learning how to bake. It's not an easy one to start out with, though. I remember countless times flipping the cake only to find that some of the cake stuck to the pan, or the brown sugar/butter mixture didn't absorb into the cake and ran all over the counter top. I still ate it, and I'm sure I gained a few pounds in the process.
Thinking back in it now, I'm not sure my great-grandmother turned the whole cake upside-down before serving it. I remember the cake staying in the pan, with her flipping the individual pieces over as they were served. I was always anxious to see how much pineapple I got, or if I was lucky to get a cherry.
I forgot about this recipe for a long time, given my constant failings. I had even moved on to another recipe where I bake the cake in a cast iron skillet. It surfaced again when I was scanning my recipe card collection, buried in a little binder that held my old hand-written 3.5 x 5 handwritten recipe cards. The very first recipes I ever tried are in that binder, most transcribed from cooking shows I watched on HGTV, before we even had Food Network on cable.
More confident in my baking skills, I decided to give this recipe another try. I don't have a 9 x 15 baking dish, so I used a 9 x 13 and it turned out just fine. In fact, I think my great-grandmother used a 9 x 13, too. I also omitted the nuts, because I don't remember hers ever having nuts, either. The cake turned out great and my grandma said it tastes just like her mom's. Music to my ears!
The cake is so fluffy and moist. The brown sugar and butter give the cake a nice richness and the pineapple sweet and tart. And I can't think of a better occasion to use a Maraschino cherry.
I am glad to have finally conquered this version of pineapple upside down cake. However, I must say that I do prefer the cake to be baked in a cast iron skillet, but that's another post.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 can sliced pineapple
Walnuts or pecans
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons pineapple juice
Melt butter. Pour into 9 x 15 baking dish. Spread brown sugar evenly and arrange slices on sugar, put a cherry in each center and nuts in the other spaces. Beat egg yolks until light, add sugar slowly. Add flour and juice alternately. Beat egg whites until stiff; fold into first mixture. Pour batter over pineapple. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Turn upside down on flat serving tray while still warm. Serve with whipped cream.