Here Comes the Sun… Gluten Free Vegan Pina Colada Upside Down Cake

The past few days in London have been so grey that it hardly feels to have got light. Yesterday I posted a great comfort food recipe, which is all well and good if you resign yourself to the grey existence. Today I am fighting against the grey, and craving a bit of sunshine in my life, and though a lot of things scream summer, few do it quite like the combination of pineapple, coconut and rum. Pina Colada time guys!! Cocktail inspired cakes are generally a winner, and this one is both gluten free (obviously) and also vegan, so if you are trying to stick out Veganuary and are getting the mid January blues, then read on my friends…

Gratuitous palm trees from Bali… Oh how I wish I was in Bali…

This is a cake for when you want tropical, but it’s more Baltic outside!


Makes an 8″ loaf tin, which divided into 6 good-sized slices, which were kinda pre-determined somewhat by my pineapple placement…

  • 50ml spiced rum (or 50ml dark rum plus 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon)
  • 230g tin of pineapple in pineapple juice (net weight including the juice- you will use it!)
  • 150g + 3tbsp demerara sugar
  • 100g Non-dairy butter substitute (make sure it is suitable for baking)
  • 100g Coconut yoghurt or coconut flavour soya yoghurt
  • 150g Gluten free plain flour
  • 50g Desiccated coconut
  • 1tbsp Gluten free baking powder
  • 1/2tsp Xanthan gum
  • Dried coconut chips to decorate (optional)
  1. Arrange the pineapple chunks so that they cover the bottom of a loaf tin, if necessary slice them half widthways to create enough pieces to cover the area.
  2. Reserve the pineapple juice, add it to a pan with 3tbsp demerara sugar and 50ml of rum, plus cinnamon if using dark rum rather than spiced rum, heat over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved and it has reduced down and coats the back of a spoon.
  3. Once the rum syrup is ready, pour over the pineapple pieces in the loaf tin and leave to soak while you prepare the cake batter.
  4. Preheat your oven to 190C / Gas 5.
  5. Cream together the butter substitute with the remaining 150g of the demerara sugar, make sure it is well mixed, but as the sugar is quite granular, the mix will look quite grainy – don’t worry about this.
  6. Mix in the coconut or coconut flavour soya yoghurt – both work but whenever I want soya yogurt I can only find coconut and vice versa…
  7. Mix in the dry ingredients – the gluten free plain flour, desiccated coconut, xanthan gum and gluten free baking powder to form the cake batter.
  8. Gently spread the cake batter on top of the pineapple pieces and rum syrup mix, and make sure that you smooth the top down evenly.
  9. Put in the middle of your preheated oven and cook for about 20 minutes, until a skewer into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  10. If the middle of the cake has domed you can trim this flat and have a snack, leave the cake to rest for at least 10-15 minutes before turning out onto a serving plate, you may need to run a spatula around the outside of the cake to make sure it isn’t stuck to the tin.
  11. If you would like to add some coconut chips on top to pretty things up a bit go for it! The cake is great served warm with either coyo (or the coconut flavour soya yoghurt if you used that in the recipe) or a vegan friendly ice cream – I really like Swedish Glace.

I think upside down cakes are seen as a bit old hat, people want pretty cakes with rainbow-sparkled dancing unicorns and Bake-Off approved, macaron-encrusted razzmatazz. Maybe this is decidedly retro, but unashamedly so, I remember loving pineapple upside down cake as a child, and decided to give it a bit more of a grown up reworking for this recipe, so gone are the fluorescent cocktail cherries and in with rum and spices! I am an impatient baker, borderline grumpy and only using scales under duress (doing it for the blog so I can share with you guys, because 4 splats is not going to translate to anyone’s brain but mine) but this was quick and easy to make, genuinely if it is Beki proof then you can make it too!

So if you had any dark clouds of doubt in your mind, then this cake did just the trick of brightening up my day, well that and being ID’d when I bought the rum to put in it (ah the small things!). Oh and now I have rum… Cocktail O’Clock! Cheers! Kippis!

B. xx


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