Thomas Keller’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake Heaven!

Chef Thomas Keller is a world renown Michelin Star recipient for his restaurants and cookbooks. One day it would be a dream to dine in his highly rated restaurant, The French Laundry. But since we do not all have the luxury of living close to California, let’s bring a great dessert home to you. Below is his recipe from his book “Ad Hoc at Home” which is significantly more tailored to the home chef whereas the French Laundry Cookbook is geared toward a more experienced audience.

I found that this recipe was incredibly simple and holds up if made the day before. Trust me. This is a great ending to a nice dinner party or the center of a birthday celebration.

The pan “schmear” that Chef uses allows for the cake to remain moist and is secretly my favorite part.

Yields: 8


Pan Schmear

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick; 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon dark rum
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Gold (extra sweet) pineapple


  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick; 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon milk


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the butter, honey, rum, brown sugar, and vanilla and beat until smooth and well blended. Spread 1/3 cup of the schmear over the bottom of a 9-inch silicone baking pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt. (The remaining schmear can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 1 month; bring to room temperature before using.)
  2. Cut the top and bottom from the pineapple and cut away the peel. Cut the pineapple lengthwise into quarters, and cut off the core from each section. Cut each piece into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Beginning at the perimeter of the pan, make an overlapping ring of pineapple slices with the curved side facing out. Make a second ring inside the first one, overlapping the slices in the opposite direction, working toward the center of the pan. Reserve any extra pineapple for another use.
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder together; set aside.
  4. Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle and mix on low speed to combine, then beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until light and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Mix in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until the first one is incorporated before adding the second and scraping down the sides as necessary. Beat in the milk. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, beating until just combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the pan and spread over the pineapple. Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the pan for even browning and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until a cake tester or wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a cooling rack for 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. Run a knife around the edges of the cake, invert onto a serving platter, and serve warm. (Leftover cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.)

Like this recipe? Check out the rest of Chef Thomas Keller’s recipes in Ad Hoc at Home

For even more insight into Thomas Keller and this recipe, check out Serious Eats whom originally published this recipe in the adapted format from his book.

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