tropical cupcakes

tropical cupcakes recipe
tasty tropical treat

These lovely tropical cupcakes will hopefully put a smile on your face and remind you that summer should be appearing any moment now!! (I fervently hope the sun starts showing its face soon) They were created for my friend Rushika, who had her birthday recently and requested some cupcakes inspired by our tropical version of the retro pineapple upside-cake.

The cupcakes are full of the wonderful tropical flavours of pineapple, ginger and banana, there’s a little cinnamon added to the mix too. They were for children as well as adults so all the flavours were subtle and not too overpowering or dominate. If I was catering for a child-free zone I would have found a way to include some chilli to these scrummy little cupcakes and I’d ↑up↑up↑up↑ the spicing too.

As Aars is having to eat gluten at the moment, I used normal self-raising wheat flour to make these little tropical treats. But if you are a gluten free home I know that they work just as well with Doves gluten-free self-raising flour, so you don’t have to miss out.

tropical cupcake smothered in vegan tropical icing
for those who love the light & fluffy, very tasty tropical icing

As added a dot of my vegan tropical icing to the cupcakes, it’s light and fluffy and full of stem ginger and pineapple. My partner prefers his cupcakes smothered in the tropical vegan icing as he thinks it’s scrummy. Whereas I prefer to eat these lovely tropical cupcakes unadulterated, completely icing-free.

The joy of making everything yourself is that you can add as little or as much of the icing as your family wants – each cupcake can be iced to order!

Likewise you can adapt the fruits you use and the levels of spice. When I make the gluten-free version for myself I chop up some pineapple into chunks and add it to the mix. They create wonderful bursts of pineapple, and then the ginger warmth seeps through afterwards. The cakes are moist and lovely, and the pineapple chunks make them even more moist and indulgent.

The flaxseed and the banana are both fabulous alternatives to egg and make sure that the ingredients bind together, it also means that these cupcakes are light and airy. The recipe is an adaptation from an Egyptian recipe, which was the first egg-free, dairy-free cake recipe I made for Aars. They use vinegar and bicarbonate of soda to make the cake rise and it works. Ground flaxseed was used to bind the ingredients together. I love that flaxseed has been used in Egypt since the days of the ancients. That it’s depicted in the tombs of ancient Egyptians. I love that we can still learn from that ancient civilisation. I really hope you enjoy making, sharing and eating these tropical treats.

Have a wonder filled weekend,
Rai x

tropical cupcakes

  • Yield:

    14 cupcakes
  • Cooking Method:

  • Prep Time:

    15 mins
  • Cook Time:

    15 mins


tropical cupcakes

These delicious tropical cupcakes are an adaption of a North African recipe, full of scrummy fruit and flavour. The spicing and flavours are subtle so children vacuum these little delights up! I always do double the recipe to keep us in stock for a couple of days! I hope you enjoy them and that you play around with them to make them your own. I think that for adults you can up the spicing and add some chopped up pineapple into the mix too.


  • 1 banana (mashed)
  • 5 balls of stem ginger & syrup (or 5 Tbs of diced stem ginger & syrup)
  • 1½ Tbs ground flaxseed
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ C pineapple juice*
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ C sugar (palm or caster)
  • ¹⁄6 C oil 
  • grind of salt
  • ¾ C self-raising flour**
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (don't double this if you're doubling the recipe!)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (fan) and line your cupcake tray with cases.

  2. In a mixing bowl mash up the banana.

  3. Liquidise the stem ginger & syrup until there are no bits of stem ginger. Pour into the bowl and combine with the banana, then stir in the flax, cinnamon, pineapple juice*, vinegar, vanilla, sugar, oil and salt.

  4. Add the flour** and bicarb and then mix really well to create a smooth batter - I use my Kenwood chef and the K beater for this job.

  5. Dollop the mix into the waiting cases so they are ¾ full & pop into the oven for 15 minutes.

  6. When they come out of the oven leave them in their tray for 5 minutes before placing on a cooling rack.

  7. I love these as they are - unadulterated. However some people - my partner included really likes them smothered with my vegan fluffy tropical icing. The recipe for the icing is here. You need to give the cupcakes a lot of time to cool down before you ice them.


*You can use fresh juice from juicing a pineapple, or juice from a carton or from a tin of pineapple. We sometimes cut up a few slices of pineapple into little chunks to go into the cake too for extra moistness and yum!

**At the time of writing this recipe Aars is having to eat gluten, so I used normal self-raising wheat flour. Be assured that the recipe also works well with Doves gluten-free self-raising flour too! 

tropical vegan frosting (light & fluffy)

  • Yield:

    ices 24 cupcakes (fully as pictured above)
  • Cooking Method:

  • Prep Time:

    20 mins
  • Cook Time:

    0 mins
tropical vegan frosting (light & fluffy)

This vegan tropical icing is lovely and light and fluffy. You beat the air into it, so I recommend you use a machine like a kenwood chef and a K beater to do this tiring job for you. That said it is worth the time and effort as it's another lovely vegan frosting. I invented it to top my free-from tropical cupcakes.

It makes me very happy that our children don't miss out just because they cannot have butter cream. I love that vegan food can be both naughty and nice. Looking at the photo below you can see that you don't have to smother cupcakes in icing to make them look cute and pretty!


  • 4 stem ginger balls & syrup (or 4 Tbs of diced stem ginger & syrup)
  • 4 pineapple rings
  • ¼ C trex
  • ¼ C sunflower spread
  • 3 C icing sugar


  1. In a liquidiser blitz the stem ginger & syrup, when it is pulverised add the pineapple rings and blitzt until the whole lot is basically liquid.

    vegan tropical icing (light & fluffy)
    you can drop a dot on the cupcakes or smother them

  2. In a mixer beat the trex & spread until they are well combined and fluffy (this takes about 4 minutes in my kenwood chef with a K beater).

  3. Add the ginger & pineapple mix and beat until it's combined - this takes less than a minute.

  4. Now add the icing sugar half a cup at a time this takes about 4 minutes.

  5. Once all the icing sugar is mixed in beat the icing for another for about 7 mins until really light and fluffy. Pop the lot into the fridge for at least half an hour to cool before icing your cakes. 


It's really important to ensure your cakes are cold when you ice them, if they have any internal warmth still they will melt your lovely fluffy icing. 

This icing goes especially well with my tropical cupcakes which are egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free & nut-free and VERY yummy! 

And the original inspiration for these cupcakes

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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