The Standard Edition Vol. 2, No. 1 | Butter Pat Industries
The Standard Edition Vol. 2, No. 1

The Standard Edition Vol. 2, No. 1

In true, Southern fashion, it's a good story, but cast iron was not actually born in the South.

It almost seems like common knowledge: Cast iron is a thing of the South, as much a part of the region’s sense of place as the fried chicken or corn bread it cooks. Maybe it’s a cliché, but when we think of the pan’s past, we conjure up images of old Appalachian homesteads with fat black skillets pulling biscuits out of the oven or boiling a heap of collards on a rusted-out stove.
But the thing is, cast iron is not a Southern invention.
We unpack the age-old connection between cast iron and upside-down cake.

We know it well: the glistening rings of canned pineapple, the candy-red maraschino cherries, all placed like a mosaic pattern. Upside-down cake has been a ubiquitous presence at parties and potlucks since the middle of the last century, and the staying power of this charmingly retro dessert comes as no real surprise: a simple, sweet recipe rooted in little more than butter, brown sugar, and tropical fruit.

But, unbeknownst to many, except those few who continue to cook it like their mothers and grandmothers, upside-down cake has been around for much longer than the 1950s, and it has deep ties to cast iron, too.
Carlos Greenwood and I attended the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses classes together last year in Baltimore. 10,000 Small Businesses is a program to help entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity by providing access to education, capital and business support services. Carlos secretly bought a 14” Lili cast iron pan from us and brought in his mom’s version of pineapple upside-down cake – recipe below.

Personally, I like the maraschino cherries. My photo of Carlos’ recipe includes the damn cherries. 

Note to Carlos: “How can you make this without those nasty maraschino cherries, man?”

- Dennis



(Recipe fits in 10” Cast Iron Skillet)

Two 8-ounce cans sliced or crushed pineapple in heavy syrup 

8 tablespoons (1 stick) Butter

3/4cup plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup cake flour (not self-rising cake flour)

1-1/2 Teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4cup butter-flavored shortening

1/2 cup half and half

1 large egg room temp

2 teaspoons vanilla extract



Pre heat oven to 350°

Drain pineapple, save pineapple juice

In 10” Cast Iron Skillet, melt butter enough to cover bottom of pan (approx 3 Tablespoons)

Add brown sugar to cover bottom of pan. Add drained pineapple to cover brown sugar

Sift together flour, baking powder. and salt

Mix shortening, 3/4 cup sugar, 5 tablespoons of pineapple juice, half and half, 1 egg, vanilla 

Beat in the flour mixture, pour over pineapple

Bake approx 35-40 min 

Allow to cool 

With a plate on top of skillet, flip cake onto plate for serving

The End