True Lemon Pineapple Upside Down Cake

True Lemon pineapple upside down cake on a serving plate

This Mad Men-era classic was originally a skillet cake, so you can cook it in a cast iron skillet instead of a cake pan. Either way, it’s fun and delicious, and True Lemon gives it an extra kick!


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 medium pineapple (peeled, quartered, cored, sliced 1/4 inch thick – or one can pineapple slices)
Maraschino or candied cherries (optional)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 packets True Lemon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with rack in the center. Butter or spray a 9 inch round cake pan.
  2. Topping: put butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until butter has melted and sugar dissolves. Continue cooking, without stirring, for a few more minutes or until bubbles just start to appear around the outside edges of the mixture (starts to caramelize). Remove from heat, and pour into your prepared pan. Arrange pineapple slices on top of the sugar mixture. (Can also garnish with cherries.)
  3. Cake Batter: In large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and True Lemon. In the bowl of your electric mixer or with a hand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  4. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each. Add the flour mixture (in three additions), alternately with the milk (in two additions), ending with the dry ingredients.
  5. In a clean bowl, whisk egg whites with the cream of tartar until the whites hold a firm peak. With a large spatula gently fold the beaten egg whites into the cake batter in two additions.
  6. Pour the batter into the cake pan, smoothing the top. Bake in preheated oven for 45 -55 minutes, or until the top of the cake has browned and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan (a toothpick inserted into the cake (not the pineapple) will come out clean).
  7. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan and then invert the cake onto your serving plate. Serve with whipped cream.

Adapted from the Joy of Baking.