Pineapple upside-down cake

My maternal grandmother was a whizz in the kitchen. Raised on a South Australian farm she knew how to make her own pickles, jams, chutneys, smoked fish, beer and goodness knows what else, as well as being an expert seamstress, prolific crotchet-er, talented carpenter, artist and demon Scrabble player. We called her “Gang” which was not her actual name, but my older brother couldn’t pronounce grandma and anyway I think she preferred the less conventional option.

A little fearsome and always with a cigarette and brandy soda in hand, or at least that’s how I remember her. She died 20 years ago, and I still miss her.

“Gang” made a mean pineapple upside-down cake, and it was part of my mother’s repertoire too. Of course for my mother it must have been the perfect tropical antidote to dreary old 1980s Ireland. It’s still my favourite cake bar none. The caramelised brown sugar combined with the juiciness of the pineapple, the dénouement of the flipping over, the cerise ‘pop’ of the glacé cherries – what’s not to love? If you haven’t cooked it for your kids do – they will be SO impressed.

Pictured above is one I made earlier, a little wonky but still pretty, and delicious (if I say so myself!)

Using a ring tin as they have on this Australian Women’s Weekly recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake would have made for a better shape, but I don’t own a ring tin.

Anyway on the topic of the Australian Women’s Weekly – the original AWW Cookbook was our kitchen bible when I was growing up. Full of colourful photos and exotic recipes to drool over. Our copy eventually fell to pieces and I think my mother threw it out, so if anyone wants to surprise me it’s possible to buy a reprint of the 2nd edition online *hint hint*.


Ah the memories. Yet despite all my Australian nostalgia, I was interested to find out that the PUDC is actually American. It was invented in the early 20th century after canned pineapples became commonplace – with the first printed recipes appearing around 1925.

If you’re not a pineapple person then an Apple upside-down cake can be a thing of beauty too – with apple slices artfully arranged and a good smothering of brown sugar, cinnamon and butter – but for me it just doesn’t pack the same tropical punch. Here’s an interesting looking version though.

PS I’ve just discovered that many AWW cookbooks are now available via their iPad app. Awesome! I still want the original hardback version though…

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