What’s for Dessert? Pineapple-Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

     Our nephew and his wife were coming for dinner, our January tablescape features pineapples, Barry’s birthday is at the end of the month and he loves pineapple upside-down cake, we found a fresh pineapple for $ .99  – so you see,  there was never a question about what I’d be making for our Friday night dinner finale! It was just meant to be!
    It seemed like the perfect time to pull out Judy Potter McMullen’s extraordinary recipe that combines cranberries and walnuts with the usual gooey pineapple cake. Judy made this for a family reunion and it was an instant hit.
    I had no expectations that I was going to create a healthy dessert. Even though I’m using a fresh pineapple, one of the healthiest types of nuts and, cranberries instead of dye-filled cherries, it is still packed with processed sugars, flour and has a relatively high fat content. But perhaps, I thought, if I made my own cake mix, I’d at least avoid all those preservatives. That took me immediately to a Kansas State University Master Mix publication. Yes, I found a recipe for a large batch of cake mix but I simply wanted to make the equivalent of one 18¼ oz. package. My first Goggle search took me to “Chicken in the Road” blog where I discovered exactly what I was looking for and have linked to Suzanne McMinn’s page so you, too, can access her step-by-step recipe.
     However, there are only going to be four of us for dinner so instead of a making one large cake, I’m going to make two small and freeze one for later use.

Pineapple-Cranberry Upside-Down Cake   Makes one 13”x9”x2” or two 9”x9” cakes
1 (20 oz.) can pineapple tidbits (or use slice), or use fresh pineapple slice (cut it over a bowl to try to preserve some juice – they’re won’t be much)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup walnut halves
1 (18¼ oz.) pkg. yellow cake mix or use Suzanne McMinn’s homemade yellow cake mix*
3 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil (canola)

1.     Preheat oven to 350°.
2.     Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Add water to juice to measure 1¼ cups; set aside.
3.     Pour butter into a greased 13”x9”x2” (or two 9”x9”) baking dish. Sprinkle with brown sugar, cranberries and walnuts. Top with pineapple. 
4.     In a mixing bowl, combine dry mix, eggs, oil and reserved pineapple juice. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
5.      Bake at 350° for 35+ minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. 

      Cool for 10 minutes then invert onto a large serving platter. 

6.     Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream if desired.

* Suzanne McMinn’s homemade yellow cake mix ingredients: 2 cups all-purpose flour, 
1 1/2 cups sugar,
1 tablespoon baking powder & 
1/2 cup non-fat dry milk.
Historically the pineapple symbolized hospitality. In the Caribbean, the Spaniards soon learned they were welcome if a pineapple was placed at the entrance to a village. During early Colonial days in the United States, families would set a fresh pineapple in the center of the table as a colorful centerpiece of the festive meal, especially when visitors joined them in celebration. Although we don’t have a fresh pineapple in the center of our table, we’re using pineapple symbols (on our tablescape) to welcome our guests at the beginning of the New Year, 2012.

Barry cuts off the bottom of a fresh pineapple.
After cutting off the top, he uses a sharp chef's knife and trims
the sides, following the contour of the pineapple.
Use a corer to remove the core from the center of the pineapple.


  1. Hello Meta & Barry
    I'm lovin this combination and thanks so much for the link to the homemade yellow cake recipe! I will give it a go......
    Incidentally I'm a Kansas girl. Grew up in Syracuse Ks. went to the college of Architecture & Design KSU. Go Wildcats!!!
    Check out my food blog:http://foodesignerfreak.blogspot.com/ Need followers

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    1. Glad he steered you our way. We have fun in the kitchen. I'm presently on a cooking adventure (in our kitchen) with Duncan Hines. Check out the index on the right -- he even has his own section.