Pineapple Upside-Down Cake 20.000

Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

Great British Baking Show Jul 23, 2016

This looks like the classic, easy American cake you know, but it's made with agave nectar instead of sugar -- as seen on the "Alternative Ingredients" Season 3 episode of PBS's "The Great British Baking Show." A quick scan of other pineapple upside-down cake recipes on the Web shows they have significantly more grams of sugar than this one, and yet the agave nectar version tastes sweet enough to us.

In testing the contestant's recipe as it appears on the BBC website, we found it did not generate enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan and the fruit, so we doubled the cake batter amounts. This makes for a very rich, moist dessert. The original recipe included a maple custard sauce, which we tried; it's nice but could be gilding the lily here, so feel free to opt out.

Make Ahead: If you make the optional sauce, you may have some left over, even after serving the whole cake. The sauce can be refrigerated for 5 to 7 days.

20 - 24

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 20-24 servings

  • For the cake
  • Scant 1 1/4 cups (14 ounces) agave nectar, plus 4 tablespoons for the top and bottom of the cake
  • 8 pineapple rings (from one 20-ounce can of pineapple slices in juice), drained and patted dry
  • 8 fresh, pitted cherries (may substitute frozen)
  • Generous 4 cups (21 ounces) flour
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons (30 grams) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 42 tablespoons (5 sticks plus 2 tablespoons; 21 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 10 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • For the optional sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • Scant 1/4 cup (2 1/4 ounces) maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Scrapings from 1 vanilla bean (pod reserved, if desired, for another use, such as vanilla sugar)
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (1/2 ounce) cornstarch


For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use baking spray to grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan (with sides at least 2 inches deep; or a round pan with a 14-cup volume equivalent) and line the base and sides with parchment paper.

Use the back of a spoon to spread 2 tablespoons of the agave nectar over the parchment on the base of the pan, then arrange the 8 pineapple rings in the pan. Place a cherry in the center of each pineapple ring.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle, then add the melted butter, 1 1/4 cups of the agave nectar and the lightly beaten eggs. Fold the mixture together gently to form a smooth batter. Carefully pour the batter over the fruit, smoothing it with the back of a spoon or offset spatula and being careful not to dislodge the arranged fruit. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then gently invert the cake onto the rack, releasing it from the pan so the fruit is on the top. Discard the parchment paper. Drizzle the cake with the remaining 2 tablespoons of agave nectar; let the cake cool directly on the rack.

For the optional sauce: Combine the milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract and vanilla bean scrapings in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook just until the mixture begins to steam and a few early bubbles appear on the surface.

Whisk together the egg yolks and cornstarch in a mixing bowl until smooth.

Gently temper the egg yolk mixture (to prevent curdling) by adding the warm milk mixture to the bowl one ladleful at a time to raise the temperature of the eggs, whisking constantly. Do that a few times, then pour the remaining milk mixture into the bowl.

Pour the combined egg yolk-milk mixture back into the saucepan; return to medium heat and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring constantly, until it thickens to the consistency of brown gravy and coats the back of the spoon. Remove from the heat; transfer to a large glass jar or liquid measuring cup. Cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Cool, then refrigerate until ready to use. The yield is 2 1/2 cups.

Serve the cake atop small pools of the sauce, or with the sauce poured over each portion.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from a recipe by "The Great British Bake Off" contestant Alvin Magallanes.

Tested by Becky Krystal.

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