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July 8, 2018

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

by Anne Paddock

Years ago, I used to make a Pineapple Upside Down Cake that was to die for – literally, as the recipe called for two sticks of butter, a few eggs, and a cup of sugar.  So, the challenge was to figure out a way to make a Pineapple Upside Down Cake without the butter (or substituting 2 sticks of vegan butter), eggs, and an overload of sugar. Not an easy task but with all the beautiful fresh pineapples in the grocery stores, I thought it was high time to learn how to make a healthier version so I went through all my cookbooks and came up with a variation of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

Isa’s version is great (and I encourage anyone who is interested in learning how to cook and bake vegan to buy her cookbooks, especially Isa Does It) but I wanted a cake without refined sugar so I substituted date sugar but added nutmeg to spice up the flavor. I also reduced the oil to just 1/4 cup because the fresh pineapple gives off so much natural juice, adding moisture to the cake. I also omitted the maraschino cherries since they are traditionally added for color and because I never eat them anyway.  Instead, I covered every square inch of the bottom of the cake with fresh pineapple that would caramelize during the baking process.

Disclaimer:  If you’re used to eating traditional cake made with butter and eggs, this cake will not “taste” as rich and decadent. But, if your diet is plant-based, then chances are you will love this variation of a traditional favorite. Moist and delicious, the vegan version of the Pineapple Upside Down Cake makes the caramelized pineapple the star of the show.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake


  • 1-1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 fresh pineapple, cored, and cut into rings or pieces
  • 1/2 cup date sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup smooth unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened milkadamia nut milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Line an 8 or 9-inch square or round pan with parchment paper (it’s ok if the paper goes over the edges).

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of date sugar on the bottom of the parchment paper.

Peel and core the fresh pineapple or cut the skin off the pineapple and cut into 3/4 inch slices. Cut around the core and into pieces.  Arrange the pieces on top of the sugar in the pan filling up all the space (it’s like a puzzle..start on the outside and work the pieces inward to the center. Remember, pineapple is the star so fill the entire space). Set aside.

In a small bowl, place the non-dairy milk, flaxseed meal, and apple cider vinegar. Whisk for about 10 seconds and set aside.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, place the cake flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and 1/4 cup of the date sugar. Whisk to blend.

Add the oil, applesauce, and vanilla extract to the milk and vinegar mixture. Whisk to blend. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and using a spoon, stir until blended (don’t over mix). Pour the batter over the pineapple slices and spread the batter over the pineapple slices to the edges.

Bake for 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Invert the cake onto a plate and then gently remove the parchment paper by peeling it off.

Serve warm.

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