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In my pursuit of pineapple cake perfection, I baked four of these gorgeous upside down babies. While the first three cakes didn’t make the cut for me, my family devoured each and every sweet, moist crumb. Their sweet tooth (teeth?) aren’t as picky as mine, but making a classic cake recipe lighter is tricky. You know, because it’s chemistry. And I’m slightly adverse to exact measurements. I blame my Vietnamese immigrant mother who doesn’t even know what a teaspoon is.
My Goldilocks-like pursuit confounded my family because they thought every rendition was delicious. Cake is cake, right? Nope. The first cake was too dry and the pineapples didn’t caramelize properly. Cake #2 wasn’t sweet enough. Instead of being just right, cake #3 was a smidge too undercooked and too sweet. But you guys, this Goldilocks wanted to eat every bite of cake #4. I ate two slices and managed to leave the rest for my family before jetting off for my quick trip to Los Angeles.
Why bother making a lighter version of a cake? Upside down pineapple cake is one of my favorite cakes to make. The wow factor is company worthy, but it’s almost effortless to make. The first pineapple upside down cake recipe I ever made required two sticks of butter. Half a pound of buttery goodness meant that the cake was an indulgence. For sake of my heart, I was determined to create a slightly healthier version without compromising the gooey caramelized pineapples.
In trading all-purpose flour for white whole wheat plus cutting back on the butter and sugar made refining this recipe challenging. It was worth the four cakes. Just ask my family. Adding a cup of Stonyfield Greek yogurt also kept the cake moist without making it too dense. I use Stonyfield Greek yogurt in many of my recipes: chocolate banana muffins, pancakes, even corn muffins. I seriously love it because it allows me to cut back on oil and butter.
I love baking in my cast iron skillet almost as much I enjoy my meditative roux stirring in it. If you don’t own a cast iron skillet, you’re missing out. I used an 10″ skillet I bought at a big box store almost 15 years ago. My iron baby has only gotten better with age. Baking the upside down pineapple cake cast iron feels so rustic. You can even flip it tableside if you want to wow your guests. The oozing, golden caramel will beckon everyone to the table as you carefully pull the skillet away from the cake to reveal the gorgeous pineapple rounds and the red pop of cherries.
Tip: Use chopsticks or a toothpick to place the cherries in the middle of pineapple slices before pouring in the batter.
Have I convinced you to make it yet? Serve it warm as is or a bit of whipped cream on top. Bet you can’t just eat one slice.
Lighter Upside Down Pineapple Cake in a Cast Iron Skillet
- 4 T butter
- ½ c light brown sugar
- 1 20oz can pineapple slices in pineapple juice (save juice)
- 7 maraschino cherries (optional)
- BATTER Ingredients
- 1¾ c white whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tsp baking powder
- ½ c granulated sugar
- 1 c plain non-fat Greek yogurt (Stonyfield recommended)
- ¾ c milk
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350F
- In large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder and sugar.
- In a medium bowl, combine Greek yogurt, milk, egg, vanilla extract, and 2 T of pineapple juice from can of sliced pineapples. Stir until yogurt is well mixed, with no large lumps.
- Pour wet mixture into dry and stir until well combined (no dry spots). Set aside.
- In a 10" cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium. Sprinkle light brown sugar over melted butter as evenly as possible. DO NOT STIR. Once sugar has melted, turn off heat.
- Carefully place sliced pineapple on top of melted sugar, starting from the outside edge and move in a circle. Place one in the middle. Add cherries to the middle of each pineapple slice if desired.
- Pour batter over the pineapple, take care not to move pineapple slices. Using rubber spatula, even out batter.
- Using pot holder, place skillet on middle rack in oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes, rotating halfway through. Cake will be done when inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- To invert cake: remove skillet from oven. Place cake platter or plate upside down on top of skillet. Using pot holders (skillet is hot), grab both the skillet and platter and flip in one swift motion.
- Serve warm.