A Two-Fer: Pinapple-Banana Upside-Down Cake

Leave it to Martha Stewart to come up with this two-in-one dessert classic.
Leave it to Martha Stewart to come up with this two-in-one dessert classic.

Got a soft spot for banana bread? And a passion for pineapple upside-down cake?

Then, you’re sure to love this cake that is both those classics combined into one.

“Pineapple-Banana Upside-Down Cake” is like your favorite comforting banana bread gone next level with sugary, jammy pineapple slices all over the top.

The recipe is from “Martha Stewart’s Fruit Desserts” (Clarkson Potter, 2021), of which I received a review copy, by the Kitchens of Martha Stewart.

With more than 100 recipes showcasing all manner of fresh and dried fruit in sweet treats, this is sure to be a book you turn to again and again year-round.

It’s thoughtfully arranged by the seasons, too, with summer bringing forth “Blackberry Pie” and “Melon Pops”; autumn showcasing “Pear Skillet Cake” and “Cranberry Port Sorbet”; winter announcing itself with “Orange Marmalade Cake with Roasted Oranges” and “Deep-Dish Dried-Apple and Cranberry Pie”; and spring delighting with “Strawberry Lemonade Icebox Cake” and “Lemon Rhubarb Bundt.”

For this twofer upside-down cake, melted butter is swirled all over the bottom of a cake pan, then brown sugar strewn liberally all over that. Truth be told, the called-for 1 cup of brown sugar sounded excessive. Sure enough, it did make for a rather achingly sweet top. If you prefer more balance like I do, you could easily cut that amount down to 1/2 cup brown sugar, especially if your pineapple is fairly sweet to begin with. I noted that in the recipe below.

Arranging the pineapple slices in the pan.
Arranging the pineapple slices in the pan.
After inverting.
After inverting.

Pineapple slices then get fanned out in concentric circles to cover the bottom of the pan. You can cut them 1/8-inch thick as the recipe indicates or slightly thicker like mine if you want a more substantial pineapple presence.

The cake batter with mashed ripe bananas and buttermilk for added moistness and flavor gets gently poured over the pineapple slices. This will pretty much fill your cake pan to the rim already, so just in case anything should bubble over, place a rimmed baking sheet underneath when you slide it into the oven.

If your cake starts to brown too quickly — mine did at the 55-minute mark — just tent a piece of foil over the top and continue baking until the cake is done. I added that tip below, too.

Two kinds of fruit makes for an exceptionally delicious cake.
Two kinds of fruit makes for an exceptionally delicious cake.

After cooling the cake for 15 minutes, invert it onto a serving platter. If anything sticks to the pan, it’s easy enough to patch back up without anyone the wiser since this is a naturally tacky-topped cake.

It's perfect for dessert, but might just be the star of brunch, too.
It’s perfect for dessert, but might just be the star of brunch, too.

When you dig in, you’ll first hit the jammy sweet, subtly tangy, caramelized pineapple, which then gives way to the very moist, fluffy and buttery banana-scented crumb.

It’s like the vacation in the tropics on top; home sweet home on the bottom.

In short, the best of all worlds.

Fluffy and moist.
Fluffy and moist.

Pineapple-Banana Upside-Down Cake

(Serves 8 to 10)

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, melted

1/2 to 1 cup packed light-brown sugar (depending on sweetness level desired)

1/2 large pineapple, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, cored, and sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick pieces

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 very ripe bananas, mashed until smooth (about 1 cup)

1/2 cup buttermilk

3 large eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour 1/4 cup melted butter into a 9-inch round baking pan, swirling to evenly coat bottom. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter. To create a flower motif: Arrange pineapple, with rounded edges facing outward, over brown sugar; overlap slices in concentric circle from the center out, to completely cover the cake.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined.

In a large bowl, whisk remaining 3/4 cup melted butter, the bananas, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla until well combined. Add flour mixture and stir to combine. Pour cake batter over pineapples, smoothing top with a small offset spatula.

Place baking pan on top of a baking sheet. Bake until top is deep golden and a cake tester comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. (If the top starts to brown too much, tent a piece of foil over the top and continuing baking until the cake is done.) Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool 15 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pan, invert cake onto a plate, and let cool completely before serving.

Adapted from “Martha Stewart’s Fruit Desserts” from the Kitchens of Martha Stewart

More Upside-Down Fun: Banana Polenta Upside Down Cake

And: Cherry Upside-Down Cakelets

And: Upside-Down Clementine Cake

And: Ad-Hoc’s Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

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  • This cake looks so soft! I will never turn down an upside down cake and this is one combination I haven’t seen. Awesome!

  • Hi Grace: I truly love how this cake is two treats in one. Life is too short not to spoil yourself. And this does the trick. 😉

  • Hi Grace. Since fresh pineapple is seasonal, would canned pineapple in juice work in this recipe?

  • Hi Mahlet: I think you could use canned pineapple in this. I would recommend pineapple in light syrup or water to ensure the cake doesn’t get too sweet. Also, you probably want to blot the canned pineapple so that the cake batter doesn’t get too moist. Happy baking!

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