christmassy tropical upside-down cake

bringing good cheer

My friend Chrish and I have a little tradition of baking together before Christmas, she sets the challenge and I suss out a free-from way of making it work; this christmassy tropical twist on the retro pineapple upside-down cake was created last year. It’s a cracker! It cannot help but make you feel warm and sunny – it truly is good cheer on a plate! Chrish makes hers with chilli, I thought it would be good to add some lime  and coconut to the cake too.

This tropical upside-down cake is a proper winter-warmer and comfort food, the heat from the chilli is subtle and lovely, their flecks remind me of red christmas lights sparkling. I keep meaning to mess around some more with this recipe and add malibu or rum, but as Aars loves it I have not added any alcohol to the mix (yet).


The recipe works perfectly in individual ramekins, but it’s also great as a cake as photographed here! The mix makes 2 cakes this size or one large one. The fragrance as these cakes bake is amazing, and it tastes awesome too.

When I was a kid, pineapple upside-down cake was one of my favourite puds, so I was über excited to create one that Aars could enjoy too. Happily he loves chilli 🙂

If you have an old fave recipe which you would like to adapt to cater for the allergies of your child (or yourself) set me a challenge like Chrish does. You can e-mail me, or leave me a message on the post below. I enjoy the challenge of making yummy old faves into free-from delights.

tropical retro upside-down cake

  • Yield:

    7 ramekins or 1 large cake
  • Cooking Method:

  • Prep Time:

    25 mins
  • Cook Time:

    20 mins
tropical retro upside-down cake

This fun, tropical retro upside-down cake is really easy to make, super cute in individual ramekins and I think that the little flecks of chilli make it look especially cheery. It's a tropical treat with the classic rings of pineapple, along with coconut and lime in the cake bringing some sunshine and warmth in winter (chillies add a very subtle heat). This tropical retro upside-down cake is best served straight from the oven. 


  • 1 red chilli finely chopped (see photo below for size)
  • 2 limes juiced
  • ½ C golden caster sugar
  • 7 pineapple rings
  • 1¾ C gluten-free self-raising flour
  • ¾ C golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 C coconut milk like KoKo (not the thick stuff from a tin!)
  • ¹/3 C sunflower oil
  • 1 limes juice
  • 3 tsp coconut essence
  • pineapple juice
  • ¼ C golden syrup


  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (fan) and make the chilli syrup in a heavy based pan by heating up the chilli, lime juice and sugar until the sugar is totally dissolved.

    chopping chilli

  2. Prep your ramekins (or cake tin) by smearing spread all over the inside. This makes 7-8 ramekins dependant on size. Ladle in the syrup to cover the bases of the ramekin, make sure ALL the chilli flecks go into the ramekins. Then pop your pineapple rings in too. Set aside any left over syrup for later.

  3. In your mixing bowl combine all the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb of soda & salt. In a jug combine all the wet ingredients: coconut milk, oil, lime juice & coconut essence. Beat the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until it's a lovely smooth batter. Ladle your the mix into your waiting ramekins.

  4. Pop into the oven for 20 mins. If you are making a cake rather than individual portions it will take longer to bake probably 30-40 minutes. You can tell if the cake is ready by skewering it in it’s centre – is should come out clean if the cake is fully baked.

    ramekins ready

  5. While the cakes are baking, use what’s left of your lime and sugar syrup adding the pineapple juice from tins & golden syrup heat until the syrup is dissolved and let it bubble a little. 

  6. When you take the cakes out of the oven put a knife around the edge, pop a plate on top of your ramekin and flip that pineapple cake upside-down! It should drop down onto the plate and look lovely! Pour your pineapple and chilli syrup over the upturned cake. Serve ASAP! Just give the warning that the pineapple will be hot!


You could make it for grown-ups only by adding some malibu or rum - if you do please share your results 🙂 Whatever you do always eat this scrummy cake hot.



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