A special dessert treat when we were growing kids was pineapple upside down cake. Rich, caramel flavored sauce, sweet pineapple and bright red Marischino cherries and soft and sweet cake, what’s not to like? I can remember that it was always made in a cast iron skillet. That would be a holdover from my dad’s childhood when cakes were skillet cakes and cooked on the top of the wood-burning stove. Back then in the woods of Upper Peninsula Michigan it was apple and cherry skillet cakes.
After the discovery of pineapple by the first European explorers of the new world, the fruit became a world trade good. But as a fresh fruit, distribution was coastal and expensive. In 1903 Dole began canning pineapple in Hawaii and pineapple was available to all. By the 1920's, canned pineapple was a staple item in most food stores. That would be about the time that my dad and aunts moved to wild and wicked Hollywood. There they would become acquainted with pineapple and the a newly popular recipe, pineapple upside down cake. They would use the same cooking methods they learned at grandmother's side over the wood-burning stove.
In immitation, I use a 10-inch cast iron skillet to make the cake. It is a perfect-sized pan. You can use regular cake pans but you have to very careful not to scorch the butter and brown sugar.