The Secret to Reba McEntire’s Mom’s Signature Dessert

Reba McEntire

Anybody with even a little bit of experience knows how tricky baking can be. Even the simplest recipes require exact measurements and the more difficult ones will have you calling for backup from someone more skilled than yourself. It’s a labor of love that requires dedication on top of that pesky sweet tooth, and it’s usually the one we call Mama or Grandma who knows all the helpful secrets of the trade.

The next time you set out to make your favorite pineapple upside-down cake, consider using a creative trick tip straight from the mother of the Queen of Country herself, Reba McEntire. In her book, Not That Fancy: Simple Lessons on Living, Loving, Eating, and Dusting Off Your Boots, the 69-year-old singer shares a delicious-looking pineapple upside-down cake that would be a showstopper at your next summer get-together. But instead of using a baking dish for the cake, McEntire leans all the way into her Southern roots and uses a cast-iron skillet instead.

Related: 84 Cast Iron Skillet Recipes That Work For Every Meal of the Day



Why Should You Make Pineapple Upside-Down Cake in a Cast Iron Skillet?

“Mama loved to make this,” McEntire wrote in her book, “But instead of making it in a baking dish, she would use her cast iron skillet. As a kid I thought this was the height of fancy cooking!”

And it might seem fancy, but it's also smart. Cast iron skillets are known for their ability to cook food evenly, which is great for something like a cake. The smooth, seasoned surface is extra insurance for a non-stick flip, which is by far the most anxiety-producing moment in the pineapple upside-down cake process.

Using a skillet also means that you can make the caramel mixture right on the stovetop. Just melt some butter stir in some brown sugar until it's all melty and smooth, then arrange your sliced pineapple on top (add some halved cherries in the holes in the pineapple rings, if you're into a vintage vibe).

McEntire makes a simple yellow cake (with a bit of sour cream for tenderness and tang) to pour on top of the pineapple and brown sugar mixture, then it bakes until golden. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes—Reba says that it can't be more or less, so set a timer.

Put a large plate on top of the skillet and flip it over. Your cake should come right out. Thanks to the cast-iron skillet, the dessert should be beautifully intact and the edges should be a beautiful golden brown. Thank you Mama McEntire!

Up next: The Genius Brunch Idea We’re Totally Stealing from Reba McEntire’s Restaurant Menu