Gluten Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake

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A 6-Inch Gluten Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake that is moist, sturdy, and topped with caramelized coconut sugar and pineapple slices.  The cake is gluten free and refined sugar free and is made with an almond flour blend and natural sweeteners.  This is a classic cake featuring updated healthier ingredients!

Gluten Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pineapple Upside Down Cake is a classic cake.  Some may even call it retro.  And I am a huge fan. Of course, I had to give it my own spin and make it gluten free, small batch, and refined sugar free.

The cake itself is incredibly soft and moist.  Yet it is sturdy enough to hold the caramelized pineapple topping.  The kind of sturdy that the cake doesn’t fall into crumbs while you wrangle yourself the perfect slice of pineapple!

And while the cake may be delicious enough to stand on its own, the reason you’re making the cake is for the rich, caramel, pineapple, and iconic maraschino cherry topping.  At least that’s why I make the cake.  Pineapple slices are great on their own, but they are amped up when you layer them with sweet cake and caramel!

summary of the recipe

This Gluten Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake is an easy from-scratch cake recipe that is great for Spring celebrations, Easter Brunch, or anytime you are feeling nostalgic.

  1. Gluten Free – This Pineapple Upside Down Cake is made with an almond flour blend.  Which is also a Paleo-friendly blend.
  2. Small Batch – The recipe yields a 6-Inch cake.  You can easily get 4 generous slices of cake, or 6 slices if you cut a little smaller.
  3. Refined Sugar Free – The cake is made with natural, less refined, coconut sugar and maple syrup.
Two slices of pineapple cake on a white plate

What You Need To Make Gluten Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Ingredients

  • Pineapple Slices – One 8 ounce can of pineapple slices is all you need.
  • Maraschino CherriesMaraschino cherries are the trademark cherry in most Pineapple Upside Down cakes.  Though, you could certainly use fresh cherries!
  • Coconut Sugar – The coconut sugar is for the caramel topping on the pineapples.  I like to use Big Tree, Anthony’s (which comes in a big bag making it great to stock up!), or Madhava.  Any coconut sugar will work.
  • Coconut Oil – Cold pressed coconut oil is what we use.  It is solid, much like a shortening, and needs to be melted.
  • Almond FlourI have provided some additional information below on the gluten free (and Paleo!) flour blend I use. 
  • Arrowroot Flour
  • Coconut Flower
  • Tapioca Flower
  • Baking Powder & Salt
  • Egg – Only 1 egg is needed for this cake.  
  • Sour Cream – I recommend full fat sour cream, or Greek yogurt. 
  • Milk – I used unsweetened coconut milk, from So Delicious.  Any milk will work.
  • Pineapple Juice – Reserve the juice from the can of pineapple slices for juice in the cake!
  • Vanilla Extract – A little extract layer of flavor.
 
 

Baking Equipment

  • Mixing Bowls
  • 6-Inch Round Cake Pan – I have provided a (affiliate) link in the recipe for the cake pan I use.

Paleo/Almond Flour Blend

  • Blanched Almond Flour
    • The base in the flour blend.  Almond flour produces a light and fluffy cake-like bake.  Which makes it a great option for cakes, cupcakes, muffins, and even gluten free cookies.  I will always recommend a blanched, super-fine almond flour.  This means the flour is ground as fine as it can be (before turning into butter), and the skins are removed.
  • Arrowroot Starch/Flour
    • Flour and starch are used interchangeably in the package titles.  Arrowroot aids in the tender texture we like in baked goods.  It also adds structure to the crumb.  
  • Coconut Flour
    • Ground from dried coconut meat, coconut flour is super absorbent.  It should be blended with other flours as it does not work well as a 1:1 swap.  Its absorbency allows swapping granulated sugar for liquid sweeteners –  like maple syrup or honey.  I also find it counter-balances other wet ingredients in the recipe.
  • Tapioca Starch/Flour
    • Another where flour and starch are used interchangeably in package titles.  Tapioca adds a little more chew to the baked good – where normally we’d get that from gluten in all-purpose flour.  And I have found in baked goods, it gives a ‘crisp’ exterior.

Tips For Making Mini Gluten Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Preparation Tips

  • Blot the pineapple slices! – We don’t want excess moisture in the cake and result in a dreaded soggy cake!  Place the pineapple slices on a paper towel, and blot the them with another paper towel to soak up excess liquid.
  • Do not grease or line the pan – There will be enough liquid (and oil) on the bottom of the pan that will make the cake release from the pan.  
  • Prepare the pineapple topping first – This allows the coconut sugar to soak in all of the melted oil.  And, it makes the pan ready to go when you finish making the batter.
  • No rules on pineapple slice formation – You can get creative on how you arrange your pineapple slices and cherries – there are no rules for that!  
  • Fill gaps in the topping with more sliced pineapple or cherries – This just ensures there is a proper ratio of pineapple to cake!  If you have some smaller gaps between pineapple slices, fill them in with more pineapple pieces.

Baking Tips

  • Coconut sugar is dark – So don’t be alarmed when you invert the cake.  The melted coconut sugar is similar to melted brown sugar, and it produces a rich, caramel flavor and color.
  • Cool the cake in the pan for at least 10 minutes – This gives the cake and pineapple topping time to set up.  If you invert the cake too soon, some of the pineapple pieces may stick to the pan, and you will lose the caramel and juices over the side of the cake.  
  • Cool the cake completely before serving – I find gluten free cakes (and all baked goods) taste better when they have had time to cool!
  • Before inverting the cake, run a knife or offset spatula along the sides of the cake – To the note above, should there be any areas where the cake may not have release from the pan, running an offset spatula around the sides of the cake will do the trick.
Close up of a mini gluten free pineapple upside down cake on a cake platter

Common Questions For Making Mini PIneapple Upside Down Cake

Can this cake recipe be doubled?

I have not tested a larger cake, but if you do try it, let me know how it turns out!

Will a gluten free 1:1 flour work instead of the almond flour blend?

I don’t think so. I have tested 1:1 gluten free flour as a straight swap in some of my other almond flour blend recipes, and they didn’t turn out.

Can I substitute a different sweetener for the coconut sugar and/or maple syrup?

You can swap brown sugar for the coconut sugar in the pineapple topping. For the cake, I have not tested using a granulated sugar. I can say swapping in honey will likely not work. Honey browns too fast and needs adjustments to other ingredients to make up for its acidity.

Why don’t you grease the pan? Won’t the cake stick to the pan?

There is oil on the bottom of the pan with the pineapple topping. With that, you don’t need to grease or line the pan. I do recommend running a knife or offset spatula along the sides of the cake to make sure it is fully released from the pan before inverting it onto your cake platter.

Why is the pineapple topping so dark? Is it burned?

No – not burned! Coconut sugar is dark, and it bakes dark.

Why is my cake soggy?

Chances are, there may have been too much moisture in the pineapple slices that soaked into the cake. Make sure to blot the pineapple slices with paper towel beforehand.

Does coconut sugar taste like coconut?

I don’t think so. It has a rich, caramel flavor.

Can I serve the cake warm?

I don’t recommend it. I find gluten free baked goods taste better when they are completely cool.

Easter cake slice on a stack of white plates

More Mini Cake Recipes For Easter

Top view of a gluten free pineapple upside down cake on a white cake stand
Top view of a mini pineapple upside down cake with a slice cut
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5 from 2 reviews

Gluten Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Yield: 1 6-Inch Cake
A 6-Inch Gluten Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake that is moist, sturdy, and topped with caramelized coconut sugar and pineapple slices.  The cake is gluten free and refined sugar free and is made with an almond flour blend and natural sweeteners.  This is a classic cake featuring updated healthier ingredients!
Prep20 mins
Cook40 mins
Total1 hr

Ingredients

Pineapple Topping

Cake

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position.

Pineapple Topping

  • Blot the pineapple slices to soak up excess liquid. Place the slices on a piece of paper towel, and with another paper towel blot the top of the slices.
  • In an ungreased 6-inch round cake pan, pour the melted coconut oil evenly into the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the coconut sugar over the top of the oil – making sure to get sugar on all of the oil.
  • Cut one of the pineapple slices into 6 quarters. Place 3 whole pineapple slices on the coconut sugar, then arrange the pineapple quarters in between (see photos). Place sliced maraschino cherries in the centers of the pineapple slices – and anywhere else you would like to fill in. Set aside while you prepare the cake batter.

Cake

  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the almond flour, arrowroot flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, add the egg, sour cream, milk, maple syrup, pineapple juice (from the can of pineapple slices), and vanilla extract. Whisk until completely combined.
  • Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the top of the wet ingredients. Stir the batter until no dry-streaks remain.
  • Pour the batter evenly over the pineapple topping. Bake the cake for 37 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean.
  • Cool the cake in the pan set on a wire cooling rack for 15 minutes. Run an offset spatula or knife around the edge of the cake to release any areas that may be sticking. Then, carefully invert the cake onto a serving platter or cake stand. Note – Coconut sugar is darker than regular sugar. Don't be alarmed at the caramel color! Cool the cake completely at room temperature before slicing and serving. Enjoy!
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin Cernich

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