for the love of cake – coco-mac pineapple upside down cake

for the love of cake – coco-mac pineapple upside down cake

A couple of posts ago, I spoke of my former fondness for cakes with fruit cocktail filling and whipped cream. I ate them because: 1.) I loved desserts as a child and that’s what was given to me, and 2.) cake represented celebration. I have evolved in my choice of desserts, but the second reason has become ingrained into my lifestyle.

Be it for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and/or occasions that call for celebration, cake serves a noble purpose. The cake that I love does not need a specific reason to create. For non-bakers, you simply go to a bakery and purchase the right one for the occasion. For us bakers–to me anyway–it’s the love, care, and process of baking a cake that makes the final product special.

The moment I take the butter and eggs out of the fridge in preparation for a cake, I get excited—almost as excited as I got as a kid building a mega structure with Legos. (more on my Lego obsession another time). The smell of butter and sugar, while beating them together to form fluffy swirls, is seductive all by itself. The addition of eggs, flour, leavening agent, maybe spices, and a flavorful liquid (milk, sour cream, buttermilk, etc) magically blend to yield the final batter. The methods of cake preparation may vary, but the science of baking is irrefutably a rewarding process.

I love pineapple upside-down cake. The pineapple, specifically from a can, brings back childhood memories. The character of this classic is heightened by the caramelization of pineapples on top, as well as in the batter. These mini cakes may not be the decorated tiered cakes that one envisions for a celebration, but the addition of coconut and macadamia nuts gives a tropical twist—and rum intensifies it. That’s a party in itself.

Coco-Mac Pineapple Upside Down Cake


Pineapple mixture and topping
  • 1 (20 ounces) can pineapple slices in natural juices
  • 1 teapoon fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut, shredded
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
Coconut Cake
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts
    1/2 cup (4 ounces) light brown sugar, packed
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Pineapple mixture and topping

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325℉. Place six 3-inch cake pan on baking sheet, set aside.

2. Select 6 rings of pineapple on paper towel and press another layer of paper towel on top to absorb the juices, set aside until ready to use.

3. Chopped up remaining (4 slices) pineapple and place it in a small sauce pan; add 1 tablespoon of pineapple juice and ginger. Cook mixture over medium heat until almost dry and slightly caramelized. Stir in rum and continue to cook until mixture becomes sticky, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in coconut, cool mixture to room temperature.

4. Combine butter, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan, cook over medium heat until sugar has melted and fully incorporated. Continue to cook until mixture starts to bubble around the edges, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and rum (Mixture will bubble up slightly, so be careful). Divide mixture evenly among six baking pans; place reserved pineapple ring, one each in baking pans. Set aside

Coconut Cake

1. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a small bowl, set aside.

2. In a food processor, add nuts and sugar, process until nuts are finely chopped, about 20-30 seconds. Add flour mixture and process until just combined, 15 seconds. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse sand, about ten 1-second pulses.

3. Add egg, sour cream and extract; process until smooth, about 5 seconds (scrape bowl if needed). Add pineapple mixture and pulse until just combined, about five 1-second pulses (mixture should not be 100% smooth).

4. Divide batter evenly among cake pans, spread batter evening to pan edges and smooth surface with small spatula. Bake until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 35-45 minutes. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, invert onto plates. Serve warm or at room temperature.