Retro Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Taking a 1970's retro recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake from Better Homes & Garden cookbook and baking it modern...

So do you love the taste of retro recipes but don't know how to convert them for today's taste palette or to meet your speciality dietary needs? My vintage Inspiration for this Pineapple Upside Down Cake is from 1976 Better Homes & Garden New Cook Book. When inverted, this cake has a rich, buttery brown sugar pineapple mixture on top of a tender sponge cake. 

How to take this retro recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake and bake it modern:

  • added oil in addition to the butter to keep it moist
  • added rum to boost flavor
  • swapped out the syrup&water mixture and used buttermilk


Combine butter for flavor and oil for a tender cake:

Using butter in a cake provides flavor, while adding oil makes it super moist. So even if your cake recipe calls for just butter or just oil, you can combine them together to maintain the flavor from butter and use some oil to keep the texture of baked goods moist. Be sure to use an oil that is has a neutral and light flavor such as canola oil or extra light virgin olive oil.

Canned vs. fresh pineapple:

The recipe calls for canned pineapple in syrup as that was popular in the 70's. It also referred to steps such as using part of the syrup in the pineapple mixture and saving a portion of it mixing it with water and using in the batter. I used canned pineapple in 100% juice, to keep the cake from being too sweet. Drain the juice and measure it out before adding to the batter.

I do not suggest using fresh pineapple which contains enzymes that change it’s texture when baked. During this process, the pineapple releases too much liquid, and will make your cake soggy.

Use buttermilk for a tender cake:

Adding buttermilk yields a light, tender crumb in cakes and tangy flavor. If purchasing buttermilk, look for simple, natural ingredients like “cultured milk” on the label. Some brands are loaded with stabilizers, gums and starches.

Homemade Buttermilk: Place 1 T. vinegar or lemon juice into a liquid measuring cup and add cream, whole milk, or sour cream until it reaches the 1 c. measure line and let it sit for a few minutes before use.

Use good flavoring:

Always use good quality all-natural, pure vanilla extract in your baking. I make my own, however if you purchase vanilla, be sure it only contains vanilla beans and alcohol. 

Homemade Vanilla: Take 8 oz. of bourbon and add 5-7 vanilla beans that are spilt down the middle and let it sit in a cool, dark place for 4-6 months. As you start to use it, replace some of the bourbon and add more beans and it can last for years. I prefer to use bourbon, but you can vary the flavor by using vodka or rum.

Use the proper baking pan:

An aluminum, 9×13 is the best cake pan to use for this cake because it helps conduct even heat. My favorite brand of cake pans are Fat Daddio’s or NordicWare. A glass 9×13 pan would work just as well. I wanted to keep this cake traditional, however, you could always try different sizes of pans as well such as round or a bundt pan.

Convert this Pineapple Upside Down Cake to meet your speciality diet needs:

  • GLUTEN-FREE-Swap out the flour with our handcrafted Vintage Baked Modern Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour Blend
  • VEGAN-In place of the buttermilk, use unsweetened oat, coconut or almond milk in place of the buttermilk, use oil instead of butter and in place of the eggs, add 1 tsp. soda to the batter with 1 T. vinegar on top of the soda

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Try some of our simple, gluten free recipes with our line of all-natural, gluten, dairy, nut, and preservative free baking mixes!

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