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It's not often that I shoot cakes outer edge-first, but this one is an exception. Because in an upside-down cake, it's the outer edges, not just the tender fluffy middle, which are the best part. In this cake in particular, it's where the juices from the slices of fresh mango mix with melted butter and brown sugar and cook into a sweet caramel-like sauce.
But let's start from the bottom. To turn the classic dish on its head, I decided that instead of putting pineapple on top of this upside-down cake, I would dice it and and stir it into the cake batter. As it bakes, the juices of the fresh pineapple chunks permeate the crumb and the bottom layer stands on its own as a simple but delicious, moist and fruity cake.
Like all upside-down cakes, this one requires melting butter in a cake pan (or cast iron skillet if you have one) and sprinkling it with sugar. I laid 1/4-inch thick slices of fresh mango over the bottom of the buttered pan to create a uniform covering, then I poured in the batter and smoothed it to cover the fruit completely.
As the cake bakes, you get the aforementioned 'caramel' sauce dripping down the sides and over the top. Inverting the baked cake to reveal a smooth surface of golden mango is a pleasure, but not one as great as taking a bite. It's like a pineapple upside-down cake on crack, thanks to the one-two punch of the juicy pineapple cake and the brown sugar-y, caramelized mango topping. I like it plain, but a scoop of coconut ice cream wouldn't be amiss if you could also find a tiny umbrella to stick on top.
About the author: Carrie Vasios Mullins is the editor of Serious Eats: Sweets. She likes to peruse her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar. You can follow her on Twitter @carrievasios