A look at the history of this wrong-way-up cake, which is a classic… whichever way you look at it
The history of cake is dotted liberally with fine examples of retro ideas that have wholly endured. In fact, why we think of them as retro is a mystery, since they never really went away. The upside-down cake is an excellent example, and none more than the classic - the Pineapple Upside-down Cake, which has been eliciting excited ‘oohs’ from children and overgrown children alike for over a century.
Upside-down cakes have, in truth, existed for hundreds of years. When cakes would have been cooked over a fire, a clever way to get a nice decorative top with caramelised fruit adorning it, was to put the fruit and sugar in the bottom of a skillet over the fire, so that when the skillet is turned out, the unattractive top becomes the bottom of the cake and the fruity goodness that was on the bottom becomes the top.
But it wasn’t until the advent of the Pineapple Upside-down cake that topsy-turvy patisserie really ‘had a moment’. And for that we have to thank one James Dole. That’s right. Him of the tinned pineapple.
In 1901 Dole invented a machine that could cut pineapples into perfectly sized rings, that he could put into tins. Quickly, one of the most popular uses for pineapple rings became to put their flavour and attractive shape into an upside-down cake. As an aside, we’d also like to award a retro medal to whomever was the first amateur baker to pop a few maraschino cherries in the holes of the pineapple rings. Genius!