Salted Caramel Pineapple Cake

In my final year at school, classes started to have cake rotas. A sure fire way to lift the spirits (and waste a few minutes passing around a tin of muffins), these weekly occurrences were a great development of education. Sadly at university, any such notion disappeared. Even when I did a paper called ‘Food and Drink in Britain and the Wider World’, for an entire year, not once did we eat food in class. Equally my dissertation on food writers and 7,000 word coursework on the beginnings of the sugar trade turned up no eating opportunities in supervisions. Imagine my envy, therefore, when my friend announced that in her sole class of the year touching upon the theme of food and drink, the lecturer had turned up with a variety of cakes for them to try. One of these had been the 1970s classic of an Upside Down Pineapple Cake, complete with shiny glacé cherries, which are one of my many guilty pleasures. I decided to channel this case of envy and bad luck into my own seventies throwback, updated with salted caramel for a 21st century twist.

Salted Caramel Pineapple Cake

Sometimes cakes can over deliver on looks and disappoint on taste. Not this one. This more than lived up to expectations. The almonds (oh, and the lashings of caramel sauce) keep the cake super soft and moist, which also means it lasts well, not that that should be a problem. Although it lacks my beloved glacé cherries, the aforementioned sauce definitely makes up for it. The recipe makes a surprisingly fairly small cake, but it is rich and sweet enough that you don’t need (as much as you might want) huge slices so this is perfect. The recipe was originally from Waitrose Magazine but I tweaked it a bit to suit my ingredients to hand to ensure I could make it immediately.

Salted Caramel Pineapple Cake

  • 175g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2tsp vanilla
  • 100g plain flour
  • 65g ground almonds
  • 1tsp baking powder

For caramel:

  • 75g butter
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 2tbsp double cream
  • 1 tin of pineapple

Preheat the oven to 170°C and line the base of a 23cm cake tin with baking parchment. For the caramel, gently melt the butter, sugar, salt and cream in a small saucepan over a low-medium heat, stirring now and then. When smooth and all combined, pour into the base of the tin. Arrange the pineapple slices in a single layer on top of the caramel, making sure they are fairly tightly packed, cutting one slice into pieces to fill in the gaps.

For the cake, beat the butter and sugar together until light and pale. Add the eggs one at a time, beating constantly, followed by the vanilla extract. Fold in the flour, ground almonds and baking powder to make a stiff batter. Spoon into the cake tin and smooth flat, being careful not to dislodge the pineapple layer. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the sponge is golden and just firm to the touch. Leave to sit in the tin for 5 minutes, then place a serving plate (with a lip to catch the caramel) over the tin, carefully flip over and remove the tin and baking parchment.

Baked Pineapple Upside Down Cake Doughnuts

I can’t remember why now, but one birthday I asked for a doughnut pan. Typically, this would be the type of novelty bakeware you use once when you get it before it languishes forgotten at the back of the cupboard. However, I bought mine with me to university and it is the only bakeware I own here in Cambridge aside from a flat baking tray. This means that whilst I can’t make cupcakes, muffins, or big square apple cakes – I can make doughnuts. And so I do!

Baked Pineapple Upside Down Cake Doughnuts

Of course, the first ones I made were double chocolate ones with sprinkles, just like the doughnut emoji. Most cupcake and muffin recipes can be made in a doughnut pan with little trouble. However, when I saw this idea on Instagram I was excited to try something that actually works most effectively in my tin and set about creating a recipe. These taste just like the big pineapple upside down cakes (sadly minus the shiny glacé cherries) and are super simple to make, but so effective. They are the type of cheery bake that can’t help but make people smile no matter how grey and cold the day is – bringing a bit of tropical sunshine to a Cambridge kitchen!

Baked Pineapple Upside Down Cake Doughnuts

Makes 8-10 doughnuts.

  • 50g soft brown sugar
  • 160g butter
  • 350g pineapple rings (fresh or tinned – I found mine in the fruit salad section of the supermarket)
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla (almond essence would also be delicious here instead)
  • 110g self-raising flour

Melt the brown sugar with 50g of the butter. Evenly poon a little into the bottom of each doughnut tin hole. Slice each pineapple ring in half through the middle, to make them thinner and place on top of the sugar mixture in the tin – you may also need to trim the pineapple rings to make them fit (the trimmings are cooks perks!).

Cream the caster sugar and remaining butter until soft and fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs and beat until combined. Sift in the flour and stir until just fully incorporated. Spoon over the pineapple in the doughnut tin, filling to the top and covering the pineapple evenly.

Bake for 15-20mins until golden and firm. Use a knife to release the pineapple from the inner and outer edges of the tin, and flip onto a wire rack to cool.