My classic dairy free pineapple upside down cake will definitely have your tastebuds thinking of summer. With its caramelized topping, a fun fruit design, and a good dose of pineapple juice, it is one of the simplest recipes to bake.
This was in fact the very first cake that I ever baked when I took Home Economics in school, many many years ago. And I couldn’t wait to share an updated dairy free version with you. It is a light and moist cake, thanks to the addition of pineapple juice in the cake batter, and a truly classic recipe. My husband and our kids are all fans of this dessert and I hope you’ll enjoy it as well.
The History of Pineapple Upside Down Cake
This traditional cake is thought to originate from the 1920s in America, with the first printed recipe included in a Seattle charity cookbook in 1924. Traditionally made in a cast-iron skillet with fruit on the bottom and cake batter on top, it has become a classic bake in many countries. You will often find intricate designs made with the fruit, sometimes down the sides of the cake as well as on the top. For this recipe, I am keeping it simple with a few pineapple rings and some glace cherries.
Ingredients and substitutions
To ensure that this recipe is dairy free, I am using plant based butter in place of dairy butter. Check out my ingredient substitutions to see how you can swap out ingredients to suit your own dietary requirements.
I always weigh my ingredients rather than use cup measures. This ensures accuracy for every recipe and perfect results every time. I will be adding a more detailed post on this method of weighing soon as well as my handy conversion guide for US cup measurements.
Self Raising Flour: I am using self raising flour in this cake as it helps to create a light and fluffy texture. Self raising flour already contains baking powder and salt, which is why we are not adding any to our recipe. I will be sharing a more detailed post on flour on my website soon. In the meantime, check out this handy video to learn how to make your own self raising flour: how to make self raising flour
Sugar: I’m using white sugar in the cake batter. If you want a slightly caramelly undertone, you could sub with golden or light brown sugar. You can also substitute with coconut sugar. For the topping, I prefer to use soft brown sugar so that it will caramelise the fruit toppings.
Butter: I am using unsalted plant based room temperature butter to add fat to the cake. You can substitute with a light oil such as canola or coconut oil if you prefer or regular unsalted butter if you’re not dairy free.
Eggs: eggs add richness and colour and are the binding agent for this recipe. I usually use large eggs in my baking, which are equivalent to approximately 50g once removed from their shell. You can also use medium eggs in this recipe. If you are vegan, feel free to sub with your favourite egg substitute. 100 grams of apple sauce would work well in this recipe.
Pineapple Juice: for extra moistness, we are adding 1.5 tablespoons of pineapple juice to the cake batter. You can omit this and sub with another juice or even vanilla bean paste (use 2 teaspoons of paste). This cake is versatile and tastes wonderful with other flavours.
Fruit: it is entirely up to you whether you use pineapple rings, slices or chunks as your topping for this cake. I used mine straight out of the can but you can dry them off on some kitchen paper first if you prefer. I also added glace cherries to my design, again this is optional but highly recommended to add extra colour to your cake.
How to Make Classic Dairy Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake
This recipe starts off by combining all of the cake batter ingredients (flour, butter, sugar, eggs, pineapple juice) together in a bowl and whisking lightly to help create a light and airy texture. I recommend using a hand mixer to make this cake as it comes together really quickly. Mixing with a stand mixer, wooden spoon or spatula will work just as well if you prefer to use those methods.
Next, we’ll grease the 9 inch round cake pan. I prefer to use butter to grease my pans, but you can always use a baking spray instead. Just ensure that the pan is liberally coated as this cake does have a tendency to stick.
Building the Classic Dairy Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Now we can start adding our toppings. First, let’s add a layer of brown sugar. Sprinkle the sugar in the pan and then pat it down to ensure that it is evenly coated.
Next, add the pineapple rings and glace cherries to the pan. You can make as intricate or simple of a pattern as you like. I think the most fun part of making a pineapple upside down cake is the reveal at the end. Add slices to the side of the pan as well if you wish.
Finally, carefully spread the cake batter on top of the fruit, ensuring that you don’t disturb your design.
Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes until golden brown. Leave the cake in the baking pan to cool for 20 minutes before turning it out onto a serving plate. Isn’t it just the prettiest cake! Best enjoyed with a side of ice cream or whipping cream.
Let’s have a close-up look at a slice of our classic dairy free pineapple upside down cake. I am obsessed with the simplicity of this cake and its classic design. I really hope this has inspired you to try this cake.
This cake makes 8 generous slices, although you might want to cut larger slices as it’s seriously that good!
Best enjoyed on the day of baking but will keep for up to 48 hours at room temperature. Store in an airtight container.
Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
If you like fruity desserts, check out my zesty lemon drizzle muffins here.
Classic Dairy Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake
For the cake batter:
- 100 grams Self Raising Flour
- 100 grams Plant Based Butter (unsalted)
- 100 grams White Sugar
- 1.5 tbsp Pineapple Juice
- 2 Eggs (large – see note)
For the topping:
- 50 grams Brown Sugar
- Pineapple Rings
- Glace Cherries
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Gather all of your equipment and ingredients.
Making the cake:
- Add the cake batter ingredients (flour, sugar, eggs, butter, pineapple juice) to a mixing bowl and mix until combined.
- Liberally grease the base and sides of your cake pan with butter.
- Sprinkle the brown sugar on the base of the cake pan. Pat down to ensure it is flat.
- Add the pineapple rings and glace cherries.
- Carefully spread the cake batter on top of the fruit, taking care not to move the design.
- Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes until golden brown.
- Allow the cake to cool for 20 minutes before turning out on to a plate. If your cake is still slightly stuck, use a spatula to loosen the edge and gently shake the cake pan to loosen it.
- Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. Enjoy!
- This cake makes 8 generous slices, although you might want to cut larger slices as it’s seriously that good!
- I usually use large eggs in my baking, which are equivalent to approximately 50g once removed from their shell. You can also use medium eggs in this recipe. Sub with 100g apple sauce for an egg-free option.
- Best enjoyed on the day of baking but will keep for up to 48 hours at room temperature. Store in an airtight container.
- Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
- I always weigh my ingredients rather than use cup measures. This ensures accuracy for every recipe and perfect results every time. I will be adding a more detailed post on this method of weighing soon as well as my handy conversion guide for US cup measurements.