This Campfire Dutch Oven Pineapple Upside Down Cake bakes beautifully over campfire coals and makes a delicious dessert alternative to the usual campfire s’mores. Find more of my cast iron campfire Dutch oven recipes.
When my boys were younger, my husband was the Cub Master for their Cub Scout Pack. This was a role he took very seriously and still does as the Scoutmaster for their Boy Scout Troop. Don’t get me wrong, he is an awesome scout leader.
Since the hubby never got to be a cub scout or a boy scout, he’s like a little kid again. He has taken several training courses, including Dutch oven cooking. I will never forget one Saturday he ditched me and the kids for a day of “training.”
He came back all euphoric and told me about the crafts he made, the activities he participated in, and this amazing dessert he helped cook and eat.
“Laura, it’s called a Pineapple Upside Down Cake!”
History of the pineapple upside down cake
I did my best not to laugh in his face and burst his bubble. You see, my husband wasn’t born in the U.S. He came here from Iran when he was 13 years old. He didn’t know that this was an American icon of a dessert!
Upside down cakes were baked in cast iron skillets with legs called “spiders.” Our favorite campfire Dutch ovens also have the same little feet which helps elevate the pot and allow the hot air to circulate, avoiding burn spots.
In the arly 1900’s, pineapple icon James Dole developed a machine that cut the pineapple into perfect rings making them easy to can. This made pineapple readily available to families all over the country.
It wasn’t long after the birth of the canned pineapple when they were used in the upside down cake. Bright red Maraschino cherries were added in the center for a pop of red color.
Can I use cake mix to make pineapple upside down cake?
When my husband first ventured to make this cake he used yellow cake mix. It is super convenient to use on camping trips, especially with young scouts who aren’t quite ready to make a cake totally from scratch.
Just follow the box instructions and bake it the same way in the directions for coal count. But if you want to make this cake from scratch? I’ve got the delicious recipe below!
What kind of Dutch oven do I need?
Whether you are making the cake from scratch or with box mix, you will need a 10-inch cast iron Dutch oven. And I’m not talking about the fancy enamel pots we all covet.
When choosing the right Dutch oven, you want the kind with little feet. As I mentioned above, this elevates the pot and allows the heat to circulate and prevents hot spots and your cake from burning.
You also want a lid that has a rim around it. When cooking in a Dutch oven, you are placing coals on top and underneath the pot. You do not want coals and ash to fall into your pot, which the rim around the lid prevents.
Do I need to line my Dutch oven?
Lining your Dutch oven is not necessary for baking a cake. But if you do not want to deal with the cleanup, some people like to line the pots with foil. I personally prefer NOT lining my pot because it guarantees the brown sugar and butter caramelizing and browning your beautiful pineapple.
Another successful adventure in campfire cooking! Mad about your Dutch Oven? Here are my tips on how to cook in a Dutch oven.
And if you want more outdoor cooking inspiration, check out my new cookbook, The Camp & Cabin Cookbook (Countryman Press 2018). I have 100 recipes that are all prepared outdoors and over fire using multiple techniques. Learn more about my camp cookbook!
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup thick plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup pineapple juice
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 2 TBS light brown sugar
- 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 7 pineapple rings, canned or fresh
- 21 maraschino cherries
- In a fire ring or other fire-safe container add 20 charcoal briquettes.
- Light the briquettes and allow to heat up for approximately 20-30 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together granulated sugar and olive oil until whipped and smooth.
- Whisk in yogurt, pineapple juice, eggs and vanilla extract.
- Whisk flour, baking powder and salt into egg mixture until smooth and combined.
- Line the bottom and sides of your 10-inch cast iron Dutch oven with aluminum foil. This is optional, but makes cleanup much easier.
- Place one layer, evenly spaced on the bottom of your Dutch oven with 7 pineapple rings.
- Place a maraschino cherries into the center of each pineapple ring and into any empty spaces on the bottom of your Dutch oven.
- Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over the pineapple and cherries.
- In a fire ring or fire safe pan, place 12 of the hot charcoal briquettes. Place Dutch oven over the hot briquettes.
- Pour cake batter evenly over the pineapple slices and place lid over Dutch oven.
- Place 8 remaining hot charcoal briquettes evenly on top of the lid of your Dutch oven and bake until cake is done, approximately 30 minutes.
- Remove Dutch oven from heat and remove lid. Let cake cool for 15-20 minutes.
- Place a serving plate over Dutch oven, right side down.
- Very carefully flip the dutch oven over, using oven mitts because the pot is still hot, so that the upside down Dutch oven is resting over the plate.
- Carefully place the plate on a table and slowly remove dutch oven, making sure the cake remains on the plate.
- Carefully peel the foil off the cake.
- Serve warm or room temperature.
You can also bake this cake at home in a cast iron skillet at 350ºF for 30 minutes.
Serving Size:1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 448Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 101mgCarbohydrates: 66gFiber: 3gSugar: 42gProtein: 7g