Birthday Cake for Dear Old Dad

Happy birthday, Dad!  Tomorrow we’re heading up to my parent’s campground trailer to celebrate both my dad’s birthday and Father’s Day.  Per his request, I made this:

I haven’t cut into it yet – it is a birthday cake, after all – but the little bits that were stuck to the pan were delicious.  It was a bit more complicated than other cakes I’ve made, but overall I’d give it a two thumbs up.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

recipe from Cook’s Illustrated The Best Recipe via Baking Beast (a blog that appears to have been abandoned about four years ago… but still, give credit where credit is due, right?)

Using a 9×3 inch round pan to bake the cake gives it straight sides. If you prefer slightly flared sides on your cake, bake it in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, which streamlines the process in three ways. First, the skillet need not be buttered; second, the caramel topping can be prepared in it directly; and third, the total baking time is cut to 50 minutes, which is 10 to 15 minutes faster than the cake pan.


  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for cake pan
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 small pineapple, quartered, cored, and cut into 3/8 inch thick slices


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup milk


  1. Butter bottom and sides of 9 x 3-inch round cake pan. Melt 4 tbsp butter in medium saucepan over medium heat; add brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is foamy and pale, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour mixture into prepared cake pan; swirlpan to distribute evenly.
  2. Arrange fruit slices in concentric circles over topping; set aside.
  3. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350º F. Whisk the flour, baking powder, cornmeal, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.
  4. Cream butter in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed. Gradually add 1 cup sugar; continue beating until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in yolks and vanilla (scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary); reduce speed to low and add dry mixture and milk, alternately in three or four batches, beginning and ending with dry ingredients, until batter is just smooth.
  5. Beat egg whites in large bowl at low speed until frothy. Increase speed to medium-high; beat to soft peaks. Gradually add 2 tbsp sugar; continue to beat to stiff peaks. Fold one-quarter of beaten egg whites into batter with large rubber spatula to lighten. Fold in remaining whites until no white streaks remain.
  6. Gently pour batter into pan and spread evenly on top of fruit, being careful not to disperse fruit. Bake until top is golden and toothpick inserted into cake center (not fruit, which reamins gooey) comes out clean, 60 to 65 minutes.
  7. Rest cake on rack for 2 minutes. Slide a paring knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Place a serving platter over the pan and hold tightly. Invert the cake onto the platter. Carefully remove the cake pan. If any fruit sticks to the pan bottom, remove and position on top of cake.

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