Tropical Upside-Down Cake with Pineapple, Banana and Papaya

Easy, step-by-step recipe with photos for Tropical Upside Down Cake with Pineapple, Banana and Papaya

We still have so many ripe bananas, we can hardly keep up with them. No matter how many we eat and give away, there are always some that get away from us, forming little pools of banana ooze on the kitchen counter, signalling their over-ripeness with an ever present tiny cloud of tiny fruit flies. To add to our fruit angst, oranges are starting to ripen, and we’re competing with the Golden Cheeked woodpecker for our organic bananas and Hawaiian papayas. Drastic measures are called for if we are going to hold our own with the cornucopia of fruit and the invading birds. Perhaps making a Banana, Pineapple, Papaya Upside-down Cake will make a dent in the tropical abundance.

Any recipe by Rose Levy Beranabaum’s is a winner, so I knew I couldn’t go wrong with her recipe for Upside Down Cake. The recipe is in The Cake Bible and on her forum, Real Baking with Rose Levy Beranbaum. I changed the original recipe by using all whole wheat flour and doubling the vanilla.

This recipe makes an exceptionally tender cake. It was easier to cut and serve the second day, so I recommend waiting to serve it, if you have the will power. If you can’t wait, what’s a few crumbs?

Tropical Upside-Down Cake

Fruit Topping

  • 2 ripe bananas, sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 round slices canned or fresh pineapple, cut in half
  • 1 Hawaiian papaya, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (3.75 oz./108 grams) raw sugar or brown sugar


  • 3 large (2 oz./56 grams) egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup (4.25 oz./121 grams) sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups (5.25 oz./150 grams) sifted whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup (5.25 oz./150 grams) sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 9 tablespoons (4.5 oz./128 grams) unsalted butter
  • Peel and slice fruit.
  • Over low heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter in a 10″ cast iron skillet (measuring 10″ across the top) and stir in brown sugar, distributing mixture evenly across the pan bottom.
  • Pre-heat oven to 350 deg. F. (180 C.).

  • Arrange fruit slices decoratively over the butter/sugar mixture, covering all pan surface with fruit.

  • In a small bowl, lightly mix eggs with 2 tablespoons of sour cream and vanilla.
  • In the bowl of standing mixer, add all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt).
  • Using the electric mixer, combine dry ingredients for 30 seconds to blend.
  • Add butter and remaining 6 tablespoons of sour cream. Mix on low speed until butter is evenly blended.
  • Increase speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, unless you are using a Beater Blade, in which case, this revolutionary beater will scrape the bowl with each turn.
  • Add egg mixture in three parts, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides.
  • Spoon batter into skillet over fruit, evenly distributing and smoothing with a spatula.

A few minutes before adding the batter to the skillet, I heated the pan just until the butter and sugar mixture started to bubble, then immediately added the batter to the hot pan, thereby reducing the baking time to 30 minutes. If you don’t pre-heat the pan, bake for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown on top and the cake tests dry with a wooden toothpick.

The little flower is from the papaya tree. Each flower develops into a fruit, so I only picked one, not wanting to further decrease the papaya harvest for the sake of decoration.
This recipe was entered in Recipe Round-Up at House of Annie, a collection of recipes using home-grown ingredients.

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4 thoughts on “Tropical Upside-Down Cake with Pineapple, Banana and Papaya

  1. Hi your instructions say to add baking powder and soda to the dry ingredients but you don’t have baking soda listed on the ingredients list. Does this recipe call for baking soda as well???

    1. Dear Sunny,
      Thank you so much for pointing out this omission to me. The recipe should include 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. I have corrected the recipe. I’m sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you, if you were ready to bake this upside-down cake. I hope you try it. It is a very tender cake. I have not made it in a long time, but since you drew my attention to this recipe, I am ready to make it again. Thank you.

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