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Pink Peppercorn Pineapple Upside-down Cake

One fun thing about this cake is that you can create different patterns with the pineapple.

I go back and forth between making it look like an updated version of the traditional one and making a mosaic with the fruit.

If you want a traditional looking cake, once your have trimmed the pineapple (see below) slice even 1/4“ slices across the body off the fruit. Then using 2 cookie cutters make rings. You will need a 3” one to trim the outside and a 1” one to cut out the core. If you want to add cherries, omit the pink pepper, and consider going all out and buying Griottines, which are Morello cherries that have been soaked in Brandy.

If you want to experiment with different patterns trim the pineapple into four long slabs around the core. Then cut the slabs into slices and shapes.

Either design keep these 3 tips in mind for success:

-The pineapple needs to be even so the cake bakes evenly.

-They can't be thinner than 1/4” or they will dissolve and disappear.

-They can't be too thick or they will release too much moisture and ruin your cake.

-1/4"-1/3" is perfect.


1 ripe pineapple

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

6 Tablespoons butter, melted

1/8 teaspoons pink peppercorns, crushed

1/4 teaspoon Maldon salt


8 Tablespoons butter, room temp

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, room temp

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup heavy cream

Take the butter, eggs and heavy cream out of the refrigerator. Measure them out and let that part of your mise-en-place come to room temperature. This will ensure your cake mixes and bakes under the best conditions.

Melt the butter 6 Tablespoons of butter. While it cools down a bit preheat the oven to 325º

Spray an 8” cake pan with non stick spray and line it with parchment.

Using a serrated knife trim both ends off of your pineapple. Following the curve of the fruit, “peel” it by slicing off the bumpy outer layer. Try to do this without removing too much of the fruit. Once it is all “peeled” go back and trim any left over prickly bits.

Decide how you want the fruit to look and cut it to your liking. Set aside.

Pour the melted butter into your parchment lined pan and swirl it to cover the whole base of the pan. Sprinkle the brown butter evenly over the butter. (I like to sprinkle a little extra brown sugar if there are spots where I can still see thin puddles of butter so that there is an oven coating of brown sugar.)

Sprinkle the pepper and Maldon salt evenly over the brown sugar and pineapple. Not every bite will have pink pepper or salt, but you want all areas of the cake to get some so that each slice will have a little. I like to crush the Maldon with my fingers as I sprinkle.

Lay your pineapple slices in the brown sugar. Make sure your leave a bit of spaces between the slices— doesn’t have to be too, too much. Think of it as space for the cake to come through. The fruit is the positive space of your design and the space left is the negative space of your design. Both are equally important to create a visual balance!

In your mixer (or in a large bowl with a wooden spoon and lots of elbow grease) beat the butter, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until fluffy and light. It will change color and go from a yellowy butter hue to a pale, creamy white one— that’s how you know you have beat enough air into it!

Add the eggs, one at a time. Scrape the bottom to make sure everything is well incorporated and then add the vanilla. Beat again to incorporate.

Add the flour. If using a mixer don’t beat it at a high speed. If using elbow grease fold it in. When the flour is almost 100% incorporated add the heavy cream and gently combine.

The cake mix will be thick. I like to use an ice cream scoop to gently drop the batter all over the pan with as little disturbance as possible to the pineapple. Two spoons work here as well.

Using an off-set or the back of a spoon gently pat and spread it so as to not move your pineapple out of place. Once the pineapple is covered with batter smooth out the top.

Bake the cake and be sure not to open the oven door until at least the first 10 minutes have passed.

I like to check on the cake at around 20- 30 minutes in. This is also a great time to turn your cake so that it bakes evenly since all ovens have hot spots.

Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 45-60 minutes depending on your oven. The best timer of all is your nose. You will start smelling the vanilla, pineapple, and brown sugar once the cake is almost done.


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