Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake is made with fresh caramelised pineapple and a touch of coconut for tropical flavour.

Overhead of Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake with a pineapple and glass of caramel next to it.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake is the only thing Mum ever bakes and as such is the only cake I have ever baked with her, to my recollection. I have happy warm memories of it which Mum usually served as a dessert rather than a teatime treat. Often warm from the oven, the surface glistening with the golden pineapple rings and sticky from the caramel. She would serve it with lashings of custard and, despite as a child never liking pineapple, I always had a soft spot for this dessert. But like I say, it was the only one she made so I kinda had to if I wanted pudding.

To be honest, I am still on the fence about pineapple but thirty-something (very something) years into the game I actually might be coming around. Especially if there is caramel involved. Always if there is caramel involved.

Cut slice of Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake is somewhat removed from my mum’s recipe and is definitely the teatime treat sort of a cake rather than a dessert. Even though you could obviously eat this cake for dessert. Any cake for dessert is good dessert. This cake still feels like the warm hug of home, although it does shy away from the Pineapple Upside Down Cake you might be more familiar with. That wasn’t my intention. I did originally want to pay homage to Mum’s delicious cake so I could make it for her birthday, which is just around the corner. However, once I started playing around with the recipe by swapping in some gluten-free flours and reading a lot of different Pineapple Upside Down Cake recipes, this final version is the one I fell in love with and wanted to add to the Pineapple Upside Down Cake canon. Jamie Oliver, I blame you for this as his Pineapple Upside Down Cake in his Comfort Food book definitely led me down my final direction.

Overhead of Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake with a pineapple and glass of caramel next to it.

The first key difference in this Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake will be the initial step you take as you make the recipe. The inclusion of coconut. It makes the cake the most delicious consistency, a little chewy but bursting with tropical flavour. Both desiccated coconut and coconut milk are included here for the perfect texture and taste. This was inspired by Jamie Oliver’s version.

The next difference will be the swap of tinned pineapple rings for fresh pineapple. The bright juicy flavour of the fresh pineapple was no contest. I find the tinned ones a little tasteless and too sweet. By using fresh you are amping up the pineapple vibe immeasurably. Rather than using just brown sugar at the base of my cake tin to encase the pineapple I actually made a very easy caramel and dipped the pineapple in the caramel. I love the plain brown sugar version but it was a little crunchy for my taste and the cake would sometimes fall apart at the edges after it had been turned upside down. The caramel holds everything together perfectly and ensures the cake is always beautifully turned out.

Side view of Pineapple Upside Down Cake

The way that the pineapple is arranged in a concentric circle looks a little more finickity than pineapple rings but it looks more impressive than it actually is to arrange and also means you get more pineapple for your money on the surface of the cake. I used glacé cherries right in the centre and if you have homemade glacé cherries then all the better.

Of course the most significant change from Mum’s original version to this Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake will be in the use of alternative flours. Here we use flours which will give something back to the flavour of the cake, rather than just being used for structure and texture. The main flour is sweet rice flour which binds the cake and gives it moisture and bounce with a delicate taste to give the coconut and pineapple a chance to shine. Next we have sorghum flour to give a tender crumb and lightness to the cake. Then finally a little potato flour to balance out the sweet rice flour so the whole cake doesn’t take on that gumminess that gluten-free cakes are infamous for.

Cut slice of Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Of course the ultimate test for this cake was when I served it up to Mum, the connoisseur of the Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Needless to say she loved it. It’s a bit different but all the better for it and she has requested it for her birthday.

If you make this Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake then please leave a comment below and/or give the recipe a rating. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own baking creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

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Overhead of Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake with a pineapple and glass of caramel next to it.

Print Recipe
Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake
This Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake is made with fresh caramelised pineapple and a touch of coconut for tropical flavour.
Overhead of Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake with a pineapple and glass of caramel next to it.
Course cake
Cuisine British
Keyword cake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
10-12 people
Ingredients
Coconut
  • 200 g coconut milk
  • 75 g desiccated coconut
Caramelised Pineapple
  • 1 ripe pineapple
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 50 g unsalted butter cubed
  • 8 glace cherries
Cake
  • 225 g unsalted butter
  • 175 g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 190 g sweet rice flour
  • 170 g sorghum flour
  • 50 g potato flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
Course cake
Cuisine British
Keyword cake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
10-12 people
Ingredients
Coconut
  • 200 g coconut milk
  • 75 g desiccated coconut
Caramelised Pineapple
  • 1 ripe pineapple
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 50 g unsalted butter cubed
  • 8 glace cherries
Cake
  • 225 g unsalted butter
  • 175 g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 190 g sweet rice flour
  • 170 g sorghum flour
  • 50 g potato flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
Overhead of Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake with a pineapple and glass of caramel next to it.
Instructions
Coconut
  1. Pour the coconut milk and the desiccated coconut into a small saucepan and heat until just at boiling point then remove from the heat and leave to cool for 30 minutes.
Caramelised Pineapple
  1. Line and grease an 8 inch x 4 inch round baking tin.
  2. Trim the top and tail of the pineapple and cut away the skin. Halve the pineapple then remove the core by cutting it out in a ‘v’ shape. Slice the pineapple very thinly lengthways then set aside whilst you make the caramel.
  3. Melt the sugar on a gentle heat in a large saucepan, do not stir but gentle shake the saucepan every once in a while to ensure even melting.
  4. Add the butter, once it has melted, stir to combine then remove the caramel from the heat.
  5. Tip the pineapple slices and the glace cherries into the caramel and stir so everything is evenly coated.
  6. Line the bottom of the cake tin with the pineapple slices, overlapping slightly in concentric circles, the rounded side facing towards the sides of the tin. Leave a small gap in the centre of the tin to fill in with the glace cherries.
  7. Drizzle the rest of the caramel over the fruit and set aside whilst you make the cake.
Cake
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan assisted oven/gas mark 4.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until thoroughly incorporated.
  4. Pour in the vanilla extract and the coconut mixture and mix in well.
  5. Sift together the flours, baking powder and salt then mix into the rest of the ingredients until just combined.
  6. Pour the batter into the baking tin, on top of the pineapple and cherries, smoothing the top
  7. Bake in the oven for around 55-60 minutes until the sponge has browned on top and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Remove from oven, rest for five minutes then carefully turn out onto a wire rack.

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