Pineapple upside-down cake is one of those school dinner puddings that seems to be held in great affection by all those who had them brighten up their school day as a kid. It’s unarguably a winter dessert, thanks to its hot chunks of pineapple which are topped with light vanilla sponge and accompanied by a generous glug of hot custard or cream. Just the ticket for a cold winter’s night.
I bought a pineapple a wee while ago and although I had great intentions of cutting it up and eating it fresh for breakfasts and lunches, when I eventually got around to using it I realised that it needed to be used up and quickly. One way to ensure fruit is quickly used up in my house is to make a dessert with it, so making a pineapple upside-down cake seemed the logical option. (Is there any other type of dessert that can be made with pineapple?!!!)
Traditionally pineapple upside-down cake is made with pineapple rings, but I couldn’t be bothered with the hassle of trying to cut a fresh pineapple into rings because it’s so much easier to cut into chunks. It’s also much easier to eat the cake if you use chunks because it’s hard to cut through pineapple rings with the side of a spoon! Although I made my cake as a whole, you could make fancy individual upside-down puddings by baking them in individual cake tins too.
I added a little dried ground ginger to my cake batter because ginger and pineapple go brilliantly together. The ginger also adds a little bit of background heat which is gently tempered by the freshness of the sweet pineapple, but it’s entirely optional because a simple vanilla-scented sponge is just as nice. I also added a little sprinkle of brown sugar on top of the fresh pineapple to aid the caramelisation of the fruit.
If, on these cold winter days, you decide that tonight would be a good night to serve a pudding after dinner you couldn’t go wrong with this pineapple upside-down cake. Its hot, sweet, caramelly pineapple chunks are complemented by a warm vanilla and ginger-infused light sponge and is finished off with a puddle of soft vanilla custard or tongue-tingling cold cream. It would be prescribed as a measure to ward off the winter by any school dinner lady who was worth her weight in salt.
100g butter or dairy-free version (& 2 tbsps for greasing the dish)
100g brown sugar (& 2 tbsps for scattering on top of the pineapple)
100g gluten-free flour & 2 tbsps for dusting the dish (I use Dove’s Farm G/F flour because it’s made with low FODMAP ingredients whereas many other gluten-free flours are made with high FODMAP options.)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsps rice milk
1 tsp ground dried ginger (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g fresh pineapple chunks
Custard or lactose-free cream to serve alongside
Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas Mark 6.
Select a medium sized dish to bake your pineapple upside-down cake in and then grease it with some butter and dust the inside with flour.
Place the pineapple chunks evenly over the base of the dish, sprinkle them with the 2 tbsps of brown sugar and set it to one side.
Put all of the wet ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix.
Add the dry ingredients and mix. (Add a little more rice milk if you feel the cake mix should be looser. Gluten-free flour is notoriously overly absorbent.)
Pour the cake mix over the pineapple chunks, smooth the top down so it’s even and bake for around 35-45 mins or until a skewer pushed into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Serve with hot custard or lactose-free cream.
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