The Big Mistake Everyone Makes With Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Whether you are making a pineapple upside-down cake from scratch (here's our recipe) or are starting with a boxed vanilla cake mix, there are quite a few ways it could go wrong. To be fair, this is true of most cakes, with perhaps the trickiest step coming when you try to take them out of the pan (unless, of course, you play it safe with a sheet cake and leave it in said pan). Upside-down cake can be trickier than most, though, since much of its visual appeal will be lost if the pineapple topping slides right off the cake once you flip the pan over. If this happens, then you've probably made the cardinal mistake of upside-down baking: You forgot to let the brown sugar glaze cool before you added the fruit.

The brown sugar topping, which actually goes into the pan first and sits on the bottom, can serve as an edible kind of glue to hold the pineapple in place, as well as any maraschino cherries if you choose to go the retro route. If you pour the glaze into the pan and add the pineapple while it's still syrupy, though, the fruit may just float on top and won't be solidly anchored before you add the batter.

What can you do if your cake still comes out a mess?

No matter what precautions you take, no recipe is 100% foolproof. If you follow the above advice and anchor the pineapple firmly, there could still be a glitch in the batter or oven. That could leave you with a cake that's underbaked, overbaked, or that just doesn't want to come out of the pan in one piece. What's a cook to do? Well, unless the cake is absolutely incinerated, the answer is never "just throw it out" since food waste isn't cool. If you're making the cake for yourself or an unfussy friend, you can eat it as-is, but maybe in a bowl instead of on a plate. If your audience is harder to please, though, we've got two words (plus a conjunction) for you: trifle or parfait.

If you wish to trifle with your upside-down failcake, tip (or pry) it out of the pan and break it into chunks, fruit topping and all. Cover it with a layer of pudding — vanilla, coconut, or pistachio would work. Chocolate also tastes surprisingly great with pineapple. Finish things off with a layer of whipped cream and you're good to go since the pudding and whipped cream will either camouflage a too-soggy cake or add much-needed moisture to a dried-out one. You can make parfaits in similar fashion by layering cake, fruit, pudding, and cream in individual serving cups. With two such tasty rescue options at your disposal, there need not be cake left behind.