Pineapple Upside-down Cake

Thomas Keller's version from Ad Hoc at Home (Artisan, 2009)
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8 people
Author: Kelly


Pan Schmear:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp dark rum
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Gold (extra-sweet) pineapple


  • 1 1/3 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 teaspoon milk


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.

To make the pan schmear: 

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the butter, honey, rum, brown sugar, and vanilla and beat until smooth and well blended. Spread 1/2 cup of the schmear over the bottom of a 9-inch silicone cake pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt. (The remaining schmear can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 1 month; bring to room temperature before using.)
  • Cut the top and bottom from the pineapple and cut away the peel. Cut the pineapple lengthwise into quarters, and cut off the core from each section. Cut each piece crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Beginning at the perimeter of the pan, make an overlapping ring of pineapple slices with the curved side facing out. Make a second ring inside the first one, overlapping the slices in the opposite direction, working toward the center of the pan. Reserve any extra pineapple for another use.

To make the cake: 

  • Sift the flour and baking powder together; set aside.
  • Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle and mix on low speed to combine, then beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until light and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Mix in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until the first one is incorporated before adding the second and scraping down the sides as necessary. Beat in the milk. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, beating just until combined.
  • Pour the batter into the pan and spread over the pineapple. Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the pan for even browning and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until a cake tester or wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a cooling rack for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Run a knife around the edges of the cake, invert onto a serving platter, and serve warm. Leftover cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.


“Here is another slightly quirky entry from the American tradition, pineapple upside-down cake. I have some affection for canned pineapple for nostalgic reasons, but we use fresh pineapple here for a more elegant dessert. Again, think of this as a general template that you can use for different fruits, and they all work wonderfully. We make what we call a “pan schmear” of butter and brown sugar, top it with the fruit and pour the cake batter over the top. The recipe makes more schmear than you need, but it is difficult to make less. It will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator, ready when you want to make another cake, or it can be frozen.”
–Thomas Keller