I was delighted by this pineapple coconut cake. It’s inspired by the Upside Down Pineapple Cake in Rose Bernbaum’s The Cake Bible with omissions, additions and some change in technique. My first attempt tasted delicious but had issues with the texture of the crumb. A couple of tweaks made all the difference and on the second attempt it tasted, looked and felt just right.
Summer has segued to the monsoon and I just love how a fresh variety of fruits and vegetables appear with the change of season. It’s nature’s way of inspiring us and firing up our imaginations. I smelt the ripe, fat, Minion-shaped pineapples even before I saw them on the shelves. Pineapples bring a smile to my lips; perhaps it has to do with their happy orange hue, resplendent green crown and rather festive appearance overall. And my brain fills with images of Caribbean-style cocktails and fun on the beach. Anyway, I wanted to do something sweet with them and a regular upside down cake didn’t seem exciting enough. Pineapples and coconuts are a hit together so I decided to try a pineapple coconut cake that would be light and buttery with the right balance of the distinctive mild sweetness of coconuts alongside the fruity, perfumed punch of pineapples.
Most upside down cakes recommend perfectly-cut pineapple rounds that come in a tin, I chose to go with fresh fruit because tinned fruit lacks the roundness of fragrance and flavour. More pineapply if you will. I went the other way with coconut, opting for desiccated coconut since it would yield a more uniformly tender crumb. An hour’s soaking in lukewarm milk made the coconut plump and moist. But I think that if you were to use grated, fresh coconut, the texture would not suffer that much.
This pineapple coconut cake is a butter cake and therefore it helps to have the volume and aeration that eggs provide. Two yolks and 1 whole egg went into the cake. They made the cake a delicate buttery-yellow with a moist yet airy crumb. I must warn you that this texture may result in you polishing off more than a slice before you realise. If you’ve made any of my dessert recipes, you’ll know that I’m frugal with sugar and this cake too is sweet without being cloying.
TIPS TO REMEMBER
- Since this is also an upside down cake, arranging the pineapples at the bottom of the tin needs a little time and attention. The pineapples need to be coated in a treacly mix of butter and brown sugar before you arrange them in the tin. I would advise that they be arranged to fit in like puzzle pieces (without large gaps). This is because fresh fruit shrinks on cooking. Also remember to tap the tin before you put it in the oven. This will help the batter fill the spaces between the pineapple slice so that you get an even layer of what will be the top of your cake.
- Another tip to ensure even browning at the bottom, once your cake is done, is to switch off the top coil of your oven and leave the bottom one on to cook for 5 more minutes. Then remove the tin from the oven and rest for 10 minute before un-molding.
I reserved some of the leftover butter-brown sugar syrup that the pineapples swam in, to pour over my cake while serving. Retaining a portion of the syrup and not being tempted to pour it over the fruit before baking saves the bottom from becoming dense and soggy. Plus the syrup poured separately over the cake, tastes heavenly. Now I sliced up an entire pineapple but used only a part of it. The number of slices you’ll need will depend on the size of your slices and how you choose to arrange them. I went simple since I’m challenged in cake decorating and other fiddly stuff. Follow these tips and you will have yourself a piece of truly tropical deliciousness.
Pineapple Coconut Cake
- 150 g All-purpose flour
- 120 g White, granulated sugar
- 70 g Unsweetened, desiccated coconut, soaked for 20 minutes in lukewarm milk
- 120 g Unsalted butter
- 150 ml Lukewarm, milk
- 2 Egg yolks
- 1 Whole egg
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- ¾ tsp Baking powder
- ¼ tsp Soda bicarbonate
- ¼ tsp Salt
For the topping
- 1 Ripe, fresh pineapple peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices and then into halves or quarters
- 30 g Butter
- 50 g Brown sugar
To prepare the pineapple
- Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat and stir in the brown sugar. Once it melts, turn off the heat and tip in the pineapple slices. I used about 6 slices; no harm in adding a few extra to be safe. The leftover pineapple is delicious eaten on its own or with the cake.
- Flip the slices so that they are well coated. Keep aside.
To make the cake
- Before making the cake batter, make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature.
- Grease a 9-inch cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.
- Arrange the pineapple slices close to each other. Spoon some (not all) of the butter-sugar syrup over the fruit. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 175°C.
- In a stand mixer or using a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Beat for around 3 minutes.
- Beat in the egg and yolks one at a time.
- Scrape down the egg mixture using a rubber spatula, and mix in the vanilla extract and the coconut along with the milk it has been soaking in.
- Finally, gently fold in the flour taking care not to over-mix or use a heavy hand.
- Pour the batter over the pineapple slices in the tin and tap the tin gently a few times to get rid of any air pockets.
- Bake the cake for 40-50 minutes till a skewer inserted into the cake come out clean without any wet batter sticking to it. Turn off the upper element of your oven and cook the cake for a further 5-7 minutes.
- Then, take the cake out of the oven and let it rest in the pan for 10 minutes before un-molding onto a plate or cake stand. Cool and serve with the leftover syrup or on its own.