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.

Fresh Pineapple

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

How To Arrange the Pineapple

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.

Gluten-Free Flours

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.

  • 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. For more information on baking with sweet rice flour see here.
  • Sorghum flour to give a tender crumb and lightness to the cake. For more information on baking with sorghum flour see here.
  • 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.

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.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 50 mins
Course: Cake
Cuisine: British
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 568kcal



  • 200 g coconut milk
  • 75 g desiccated coconut

Caramelised Pineapple

  • 1 ripe pineapple
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 50 g unsalted butter cubed
  • 8 glacé cherries


  • 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



  • 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

  • Line and grease an 8 inch x 4 inch round baking tin.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Add the butter, once it has melted, stir to combine then remove the caramel from the heat.
  • Tip the pineapple slices and the glace cherries into the caramel and stir so everything is evenly coated.
  • 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.
  • Drizzle the rest of the caramel over the fruit and set aside whilst you make the cake.


  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan assisted oven/gas mark 4.
  • Cream the butter and sugar for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until thoroughly incorporated.
  • Pour in the vanilla extract and the coconut mixture and mix in well.
  • Sift together the flours, baking powder and salt then mix into the rest of the ingredients until just combined.
  • Pour the batter into the baking tin, on top of the pineapple and cherries, smoothing the top
  • Bake in the oven for around 55-60 minutes until the sponge has browned on top and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven, rest for five minutes then carefully turn out onto a wire rack.


Calories: 568kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Cholesterol: 124mg | Sodium: 212mg | Potassium: 312mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 780IU | Vitamin C: 0.5mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 1.9mg


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Escape (The Pinã Colada Cake)

(Escape) The Pina Colada Cake

This recipe is not yet gluten-free

One of the film websites I read recently had a feature where all the contributors had written about the worst tropes which are fallen back on time and time again on film and TV. One particular entry on this list decried the timeworn use of characters dancing in the kitchen. The writer said it was clichéd, unrealistic and twee. ‘C’mon, who does that?’ they lamented. Well, I do as it happens. I do it a lot to boot and I don’t mind who knows it. Obviously.

The two examples of this common trope which immediately spring to mind are at the end of Mermaids which I re-watched last week where they wiggle along to ‘If You Wanna Be Happy’ whilst setting the table. This scene not only led me to become obsessed with that song when I was young, but also made me desperate to be part of their wackadoo family. As a sidenote, I was extra surprised and saddened to hear of Bob Hoskins’ passing a few days ago as it felt like I had only just seen him on top form, I had forgotten he was in Mermaids and on my re-watch his was the performance I enjoyed the most. Such a wonderful actor.

The second example is in the classic episode of Dawson’s Creek when the gang all band together to save the Potter B&B by dancing around the kitchen at breakfast time. Of course their dancing seduces the grouchy critic Mr Fricke into thinking that the Potter B&B is the best place he’s ever stayed in the world and they get a stellar write up. Works every time; Four in a Bed take note. I refuse to believe that these moments are embarrassment ridden or cheesy but they certainly serve as encouragement for me to dance more, for better or for worse.

Pina Colada Cake | Stroud Green Larder

In our house we love to dance badly everywhere, the poorer the dancing is the better. We throw ourselves around to the radio first thing in the morning, in the sitting room to perk us up on a Saturday afternoon and most importantly and significantly for this post, in the kitchen. Whilst waiting for butter and sugar to cream, whilst thumbing through cookbooks and most common of all when we are doing the washing up. It is the only thing that makes the dreary chore remotely bearable.

From his very first afternoon in our house whilst we were making the Sunday lunch Puppy has found our love of crazy dancing the best thing in the world. All I have to do is start to shimmy a little bit in time with Katy Perry and he has jumped up ecstatically, paws reaching for my hands so we can prance round the kitchen absurdly like a couple of escaped lunatics. The cats aren’t as impressed.

There are a few songs which absolutely guarantee a good old bop, our current favourite is Pharrell Williams’ Happy which is just invokes such joy but also sends me into fits as it goes hand in hand with those gosh darn hilarious minions. A particular favourite though, and you’ll be happy to know I am now coming to the crux of the matter, is Escape (The Pinã Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes. We always put it on when feeling gloomy to cheer ourselves up. As soon as its opening drum beat kicks in Puppy immediately assumes the Tom Cruise from Cocktail swagger, well if Tom Cruise were tiny, furry, four-legged and drunk; still he has the charm in spades.

Pina Colada Cake | Stroud Green Larder

I was obviously listening to this song when I dreamt up this cake and the thought of it makes me smile, not just because it’s delicious but it also incorporates all the happy-go-lucky flavours of sunshine and paradise. It reminds me of dancing round my kitchen with my family and most importantly, it has glace cherries.

I have made this cake several times now and usually when I make something repeatedly I like to tweak things here and there, perhaps modify the icing, take a layer out, change the decoration. This incarnation though was perfect the first time I baked it and I have made it the same way ever since, even down to the number of cocktail umbrellas on the top.

This cake was made this week for a double celebration, it was a request from my husband whose birthday it was a few days ago and I also wanted to include it here to mark my official 99th post. Now, many people may choose to celebrate going into triple figures but hey I like 99. Plus it’s the bank holiday so I wanted to make sure this recipe was on offer to you should you want to make it and dream you are escaping to a tropical island.

Pina Colada Cake | Stroud Green Larder

Escape (The Pinã Colada Cake)

Coconut and Malibu Cake
Adapted from Dan Lepard’s recipe in Short and Sweet

150ml coconut milk
50g unsweetened desiccated coconut
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
60ml Malibu
300g caster sugar
250g unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs
275g plain flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder

  1. Heat the coconut milk until boiling then remove from the heat and stir in the desiccated coconut, vanilla and Malibu. Leave to soak for 30 minutes so the coconut softens.
  2. Meanwhile heat the oven to 180°C then line and grease 3 x 20cm round sandwich tins.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer on high for about 5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time until evenly combined.
  5. Sift the flour with the baking powder. Fold into the butter, sugar and eggs alternately with the coconut mixture until just incorporated.
  6. Divide between the tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Pineapple Curd

1 227g tin pineapple chunks, whizzed up with juice in blender
3 egg yolks
2½ tablespoons cornflour
75g caster sugar

  1. In a small bowl blend the cornflour with a bit of the whizzed up pineapple until it’s formed a smooth paste.
  2. Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and stir constantly on a medium heat until it begins to boil. Turn down heat and keep stirring as it thickens. Remove from heat and leave to cool.

Pineapple Frosting

8 egg whites (or 240g egg whites)
400g caster sugar
540g unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into cubes
¼ teaspoon salt
250g pineapple curd

  1. Heat egg whites and caster sugar in a bain-marie, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature has reached 160°F.
  2. Remove the egg whites and sugar from the heat and pour into a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk until the mixture forms stiff peaks.
  3. Change the attachment to a paddle attachment. On a low speed add the butter slowly cube by cube. When you have almost added all the butter the mixture will curdle curiously. Do not fret – this is supposed to happen. Just continue to add all the butter. Once the butter is totally incorporated the frosting will miraculously become a smooth velvety consistency.
  4. Add the salt and the pineapple curd. Mix in quickly and lightly.

Decorate the cake with toasted desiccated coconut, sun-dried pineapple, glace cherries and cocktail umbrellas.