Quick GF Pineapple Upside-down Cake

Note: this recipe is from my pre-Paleo days.  If you’d like to find more Paleo dishes, look here.

Last night, I totally messed up the cake I was making.  You know how pineapple upside down cake is supposed to have the pineapple at the bottom of the cake pan while baking?  Well, mine had it in the middle.

Pineapple upside down cake

And, I was planning to mix strawberry chunks (dusted in sugar and then frozen) into the batter before I poured it over the pineapple base layer, but, of course, I forgot that step too and wound up stirring them into the already-poured batter.

Oh, and I used the wrong sized pan, so it took twice as long to bake; by the time the center was done, the outside was more browned than I would have liked it to be.

Basically, it was a gooey brown-sugary upside-down fruit layer cake.

But, it is (was) completely devoured.  Despite my inability to follow two simple steps, the cake still turned out well and tasted great.  And that’s why this recipe has become a staple.

When they’re in season, I make the cake with fresh pineapple slices and halved sweet cherries.  When they’re not, I use crushed pineapple out of the can.  For fun, I might throw in other fruit – like chopped frozen strawberries.

Personally, I am a fan of The Gluten-Free Pantry Old Fashioned Cake & Cookie Mix for my Pineapple upside-down cake.  It is not overly-sweet, so the pineapple shines through – particularly when I replace the water or milk it calls for with pineapple juice.

I also prefer to make the cake in a 10″ cast iron Dutch oven, outside over the coals.  It bakes more evenly this way because, unlike with my old electric oven, the heat can be redistributed easily with the shift of a coal.  I have not tried using a Dutch oven or covered casserole inside, but I imagine it may also help with the baking process.

Quick GF Pineapple Upside-down Cake Recipe (with Dutch oven prep instructions)

  • 1 yellow/white cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 can crushed pineapple, reserve juice
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ vegan/dairy free butter substitute, melted

Instructions for At-Home Preparation

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl, stir together contents of cake mix pacakge, eggs, vegetable oil and ½ cup of the reserved pineapple juice.  Set batter aside.

Lightly oil a 9″ round spring form cake pan (be sure to cover bottom of pan in aluminum foil and fold it up over the sides to prevent leaking) or an 8×8″ glass baking dish.  Pour melted butter substitute into bottom of pan and sprinkle in brown sugar evenly.

Add pineapple (and cherries if you have them) in an even layer and then pour the cake batter over the top.

Bake for 30 minutes.  Check center with a clean toothpick or knife; if it comes out clean, the cake is ready.  If not, bake it in 5 minute increments, checking it as you go.

When cake is done, let cake sit for 5 minutes.  Use a spatula to separate cake from sides of pan.  Place a plate on top of the pan and carefully flip it upside down.  Release the spring form or tap the bottom of the glass pan and remove pan.  If using springform, you may need the spatula to help you carefully remove the pan bottom from the cake.


Separate Instructions for Dutch Oven Cookout Preparation

At home:

Mix batter as directed.  Place in a Ziploc-style freezer bag and store in fridge/cooler until ready to use.

Place pineapple slices/chunks in separate container.  Refrigerate.

Measure out ¼ cup dairy free butter substitute and ¼ cup brown sugar – place each in its own small resealable plastic container.

At camp/cook site

Heat bottom of Dutch oven and melt butter substitute.  Rotate pan to coat bottom.

Sprinkle in brown sugar evenly.

Add pineapple to oven in an even layer.

Pour batter over the top of the pineapple.

Bake with lid on.

When cooked through, let sit for 5-10 minutes with lid tipped for steam to release.  Use a spatula to separate cake from sides of oven.

Wearing oven mitts (or leather gloves if you have them), tip oven onto a plate for serving.

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