Bye bye baby… – Pineapple Upside Down Mini-Cakes

Today is my Emma’s birthday. She’s four. Already. I’m not quite certain how the time has flown by so quickly but here we are. She’s in junior kindergarten, has friends she’s made without me introducing her and has decided that when she grows up, she’d like to be a dancer, minstrel and paediatrician.

Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

We had a birthday celebration this past weekend and she requested it be a luau. The weather gods cooperated and at one point, we ended up with 13 children (and many of the adults!) in our garden wearing leis and grass skirts – some dancing the hula and others playing limbo.  It was a fantastic celebration filled with family, friends and a lot of love. Love directed towards my little baby girl. Only she’s not a baby anymore – she’s four!

For her cake, Emma asked for a pineapple upside down cake. It was the first cake I ever made for her and she fell in love with it right from the start. I, too, have always loved it so when this was her request, I had to deliver.

With our growing guest list and our darling nearly 5 month old nearly always in tow, entertaining a large crowd would be difficult. As a result, I decided to go with pineapple upside down mini-cakes to eliminate the need to slice a cake and distribute to all of our guests. Easy, right?

Let me tell you – these turned out to be more difficult than I thought they would be! The test cakes tasted great – except they were so small I could eat six. And arranging the pineapple so it would look attractive was very finicky and time consuming work. Not to mention the impact overflowing caramel has on one’s smoke detector – and children.

When the recipe was finalized, the results were worth the effort. And now, looking back, this is such an easy-to-make cake. The cake was moist and light and the sweetness of the caramel complemented the tart pineapple on the topping. They were so popular at her party that I nearly didn’t get a chance to eat one, let alone photograph one. In fact, the one in the picture was rescued just moments before a guest started to make their way to collect it.

So, dear Emma, I hope that you enjoyed the pineapple upside down cakes for your birthday.

You are the brightest, kindest, most loving and thoughtful little girl I’ve ever known. I’m so happy that you’re mine!

Happy birthday darling!

Pineapple Upside Down Mini-Cakes

adapted slightly from: Smitten Kitchen’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake
(makes 18)


  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 fresh pineapple, finely chopped


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of kosher salt, ground
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vanilla sugar
  • 1 tbsp rum
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice

To make the caramel-pineapple topping, melt the butter in a small saucepan at medium heat. Add the brown sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and spoon the butter/sugar mixture evenly across the muffin tins. I use 1 12-cup and 1 6-cup regular-sized muffin tins. Sprinkle the chopped pineapple on top of the butter/sugar mixture in the muffin tins. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Mix the flour, salt and baking powder together in a small bowl. In a large bowl, beat the butter and then add the brown sugar.  Beat until light and then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Then add the vanilla and the rum, beating for a few moments. Next, add half of the flour mixture and stir until combined. Add the pineapple juice, beat again and then stir in the remaining flour mixture. Once combined, spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes (rotating the tins at about 15 minutes) or until a cake tester into the middle of a cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven. Run a toothpick or a thin, sharp knife around the edges of each cupcake so they don’t stick. Let cool in the tins for 5 minutes. To remove the cupcakes, invert the muffin tins on to a wire rack, replace any stuck on pineapple bits on to the associated cupcake and let cool completely.

Tips and Suggestions:

  • Remember to run a knife around the edge of each cake after removing them from the oven. This will ensure that the sides won’t stick to your muffin tin when you turn them out.
  • This recipe works for a 9″ round cake as well as 6 jumbo muffin cakes.
  • Chop some maraschino cherries to sprinkle along with the pineapple for a pretty contrast.
  • This cake is best the day it is made or the following day.


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