Pineapple Upside Down Cake (Low FODMAP, Gluten-Free, Paleo Option)

pineapple upside down cake on a cake stand
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This Pineapple Upside Down Cake is a showstopper dessert ideal for virtually any occasion! Amaze your friends at holiday parties, barbecues, and the like with this classic cake. Incredibly easy to make and ready to serve in about an hour, this Pineapple Upside Down Cake is low FODMAP (with up to two cherries per serving), gluten-free, grain-free, lactose-free and refined sugar-free with an easy Paleo option.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake: Obsessed

Pineapple upside down cake is – hands down – my all-time favourite dessert. It first came to my attention about 6 years ago while watching The Food Network. I thought it looked so cool and vintage, I decided to search for a recipe. I found this one on Sally’s Baking Addiction and was so happy with the results. I’ve been a big fan of Sally’s blog ever since. It was really the first cake I’d ever baked that turned out brilliantly. I wanted to simply devour it all on the spot. I’ve made Sally’s recipe frequently over the years, but as I’ve changed my diet to mostly Paleo and low FODMAP, I decided to write a new Paleo and low FODMAP recipe inspired by Sally’s.

Not only is pineapple upside down cake my all-time favourite dessert, it’s also very first dessert I’ve ever posted to Good Noms, Honey! Truth be told, desserts typically fall outside my comfort zone and take a lot more effort for me to perfect. However, once I’ve perfected a dessert recipe, I find the results so rewarding, so I hope to post dessert recipes like this one more in the future.

overhead shot of a pineapple upside down cake with a serving spatula, a bowl of cherries and a bowl of pineapple slices

What’s an Upside Down Cake?

Upside down cake is a cake that is baked with the topping on the bottom of the pan and the cake on top. Once removed from the oven, the cake is flipped “upside down” onto a plate so that cake is served with the topping on the top and the cake on the bottom.

Upside down cake can be made with a variety of different fruits – peaches, pears, apples, etc. but I’ve only ever made pineapple upside down cake. Traditionally, pineapple and maraschino cherries are placed in the bottom of the pan with butter and sugar and topped with a vanilla cake. When flipped “upside down,” the butter and sugar seep into the vanilla cake, making it irresistibly tasty.

Low FODMAP, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Sugar-Free, Lactose-Free and Paleo Ingredients

I’ve converted the traditional pineapple upside down cake into a version that is low FODMAP (with up to two cherries per serving), gluten-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free, and Paleo (when substituting regular sweet cherries for the maraschino cherries). If you’re like me and read that long list of things it’s ‘free’ of, you might think: that’s going to taste like ass! Let me assure you – it doesn’t. It’s delicious and appropriate for a wide spectrum of dietary needs.

Low FODMAP

Making this pineapple upside down cake recipe low FODMAP was my #1 priority. According to Monash University’s Low FODMAP Diet App, almond flour, pineapple and cherries all contain FODMAPs but different types of FODMAPs:

  • Almond flour: GOS (short for Galactooligosaccharides) – low FODMAP in up to 1/4 cup servings. As this recipe is 8 servings, this quantity is at par with the tolerable amount per serving.
  • Pineapple: Fructans – low FODMAP in servings of up to 1 cup. You’re only getting about 1 slice of pineapple per serving, which is way below the tolerable amount per serving. 1/3 cup of pineapple juice is also included in the batter, but it is a minimal amount per serving.
  • Cherries: Fructose & Sorbitol – low FODMAP in servings of up to 2 cherries (or 20 g). Stick to 2 cherries or less per slice to keep this low FODMAP. Please note: while cherries have been tested by Monash University, maraschino cherries have not yet been tested; therefore, their FODMAP content is currently uncertain. I am able to tolerate maraschino cherries the same as regular, sweet cherries but if you are unsure how you might tolerate them and prefer to err on the side of caution, use fresh or frozen sweet cherries instead or omit them altogether. Generally speaking, they are a relatively insignificant ingredient compared to the rest of the recipe.

The remaining ingredients also contain little to no FODMAPs or will bring minimal amounts of FODMAPs each serving due to their small quantities. I encourage you to double check this and any recipe anywhere for FODMAP content yourself using either Monash’s app or the FODMAP Friendly App.

Also important to note: as this is a dessert and probably going to be eaten after a main course, you will want to be mindful of the FODMAP content of what you are eating beforehand, watching out for ingredients containing GOS, Fructans, Fructose and Sorbitol in particular to prevent FODMAP stacking.

a piece of pineapple upside down cake on a plate with a fork with the entire cake behind

Gluten-Free & Grain-Free

To make this cake gluten and grain-free, I’ve used blanched almond flour and tapioca flour instead of grain-based, gluten-containing flours. I use these flours in my Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Tenders Salad and Air Fryer + Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken recipes, among others. The remaining dry ingredients – salt, baking powder, and baking soda – are naturally gluten-free (or at least should be – check your labels to be sure).

Refined Sugar-Free & Lactose-Free

Instead of using refined brown sugar, I use maple sugar, which is Paleo and low FODMAP. It also has a similar flavour to brown sugar. To make this cake lactose free, I use ghee (a.k.a. clarified butter) instead of regular butter in the topping as well as coconut oil to moisten the cake batter.

Paleo Option

The only ingredient in this recipe as it is written that’s not Paleo is the maraschino cherries (those darn cherries again – such troublemakers!). Maraschino cherries are heavily processed. I use them as I am not strict Paleo and am only consuming 2 per serving. If you would like to make this recipe strictly Paleo, use fresh or frozen sweet cherries instead. However, I found in my testing that sweet cherries tend to bleed more when cooked than the maraschino, so you may end up with more discoloration from sweet cherries than you see with maraschino cherries. If using sweet cherries, be sure to blot out any excess juice with a paper towel while preparing the topping.

an overhead shot of a pineapple upside down cake with a piece cut out on a plate with a fork

Necessary Equipment

The equipment I use to make this Pineapple Upside Down Cake recipe includes:

  • Electric or gas oven
  • Baking sheet (to catch any ghee overflow)
  • 9.5″ x 2″ pie dish (I use this one)
  • One large mixing bowl
  • One extra large mixing bowl
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Whisk
  • Spatula
  • Microwave
  • Paper towel
  • Serving plate or cake stand (I use and adore this one from IKEA)
  • Oven mitts
  • Cooling rack

Preparing Pineapple Upside Down Cake

To start, I place an oven rack at the center of the oven and another rack one level beneath it. The cake will be placed on the center rack, and we’ll put a baking sheet on the rack underneath the rack with the cake to catch any ghee that overflows from the pie dish. There typically isn’t any overflow when I bake the cake, but it could happen. A baking sheet is way easier to clean than an oven.

Preheat and Grease

Then, I preheat the oven to 350°F. I grease a 9.5 x 2″ pie dish with ghee, making sure to get the sides and the bottom. Even though you will be putting ghee in the bottom of the pan for the topping, as I do experience sticking at times with this recipe, I make sure the dish evenly greased before adding the melted ghee for the topping. See the note on “Sticking” in the recipe card below.

pineapple upside down cake on a fork next to the full cake

Prep the Ingredients

While the oven preheats, I prep the ingredients so that they will be room temperature once they are mixed together. This helps ensure they combine and bake evenly. I place the eggs in a small bowl of warm water for 5 minutes, making sure the water isn’t too hot as we just want to warm them up, not cook them. You can also set them out of the refrigerator a few hours prior to baking and allow them to rise to room temp that way.

Then, I measure out the coconut oil into a heat resistant bowl or measuring cup and warm it in the microwave until just melted. This takes about 30 seconds in my microwave but may be different in other microwaves. I set the coconut oil in a cool place to cool to almost room temperature. If I’m in a hurry for it to cool, I place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes. I don’t leave it in there for too long though or else it will resolidify.

Prepare Topping

While the ingredients are coming to room temperature, I prepare the topping. I melt some ghee in the microwave and pour it into the pie dish. Then, I pour the maple sugar into the pie dish and wisk until it is combined with the ghee. I open my can of pineapple rings and place them in the bottom of the pan in a decorative pattern. I place the cherries among the pineapple rings, keeping in mind that there are up to 2 cherries per slice for low FODMAP. If you’re unsure of what to do, see my photos or be creative! Also, check out my notes on cherries in the recipe card below for more information.

a partially eaten piece of pineapple upside down cake on a plate with a fork

Combine Ingredients & Prepare Batter

I add the dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk them to combine. Then, I add the wet ingredients to an extra large bowl and whisk to combine. I pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and whisk them until just combined. I immediately pour the combined batter into the pie dish and spread evenly over the topping. If you wait too long to do this, the batter will harden and not spread evenly. The texture of the cake will also be different and unfavourable.

Bake & Serve

I place the pie plate on the center oven rack and a baking sheet on the rack underneath to catch any overflow. I then bake the cake for 35 minutes. The cake should be baked when the center is set and the edges are light golden brown. I remove the baked cake from the oven and allow it to cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then, I place a serving platter or cake stand on top of the pie dish. Holding onto the dish and handles of the pie plate together with hot pads, I flip the cake onto the cake stand so that the fruit is on top.

This cake is best served right away as it does not keep well. However, it can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I highly recommend serving it right away as the fruit will settle into the cake over time and look not great. Also, the fruit can make the cake soggy

pineapple upside down cake on a cake stand with easy pineapple upside down cake low fodmap gluten-free paleo option written at the top and goodnomshoney.com at the bottom
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Pineapple Upside Down Cake (Low FODMAP, Gluten-Free, Paleo Option)


  • Author: Gail
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 1x

Description

This Pineapple Upside Down Cake is incredibly easy to make and a showstopper for any occasion. Low FODMAP (with up to two cherries per serving), gluten-free, grain-free, lactose-free, and refined sugar free with an easy Paleo option.


Scale

Ingredients

TOPPING:

  • ¼ cup ghee, plus more for greasing the pie dish
  • ¼ cup maple sugar
  • 540 ml (18 oz) can of pineapple rings in juice (reserving juice for batter)
  • 13 maraschino cherries or sweet cherries, pitted, fresh or frozen (if strict Paleo)*

CAKE:

Dry Ingredients:

Wet Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup pineapple juice, reserved from the canned pineapple
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled to just above room temperature
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and another one level below. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease the sides and bottom a 9.5” x 2” pie dish or pan with ghee.
  2. Prep for room temperature: put the eggs in a bowl of warm (not hot) water and let warm up for 5 minutes. Remove from water and set aside. Measure out ¼ cup coconut oil and heat in the microwave until just melted (about 30 seconds). Set aside to cool to almost room temperature. 
  3. Prepare topping: Melt ghee in the microwave and pour into the greased pie dish. Add maple sugar and whisk until sugar is combined with the ghee. Place pineapple rings in the bottom of the pie dish in a decorative pattern. Place cherries among the pineapple (see photos for an illustration or be creative, keeping in mind you want to have only 2 cherries per serving for low FODMAP). Blot any excess cherry juice with a paper towel. Set pie dish aside.
  4. Combine dry ingredients: in a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  5. Combine wet ingredients: in an extra large bowl, combine wet ingredients and whisk to combine.
  6. Make batter: Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and whisk until combined. Pour the batter into the pie dish and use a spatula to spread evenly over the fruit topping. 
  7. Put cake in the oven on the center rack; place a baking sheet on the rack underneath to catch any overflow. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until batter is set in the center and edges are a light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Place a serving plate or cake stand upside down on top of the pie dish. Using hot pads, hold the platter or cake stand together with the handles of the pie dish and flip them over together so that the batter side of the cake is at the bottom with the fruit topping on top. Serve immediately. 
  8. Cover leftover cake and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Notes

  • *Cherries: Up to 2 cherries per serving for low FODMAP (8 servings total). Maraschino cherries have not yet been tested by Monash University for FODMAP content. I can tolerate maraschino cherries as well as fresh cherries, but everyone is different, and it is still unknown whether the FODMAP content of maraschino cherries is the same as fresh cherries. If you are concerned about how your body might react to maraschino cherries, substitute fresh or frozen sweet cherries. However, please note that sweet cherries tend to bleed more into the other cake ingredients, so blot any excess cherry juice when making the topping. Technically, you could use up to 16 cherries and keep the cake low FODMAP as long as there were only 2 cherries per slice and 8 slices total.
  • If not low FODMAP: use as many cherries as you like – 13 is just the number that made sense to me for design symmetry.
  • Paleo option: Maraschino cherries are not Paleo compliant, so if you’re eating strictly Paleo, substitute fresh or frozen sweet cherries.
  • Storage: this cake is best served right away as it does not keep well. The topping will sink into the batter as time goes on and can make the batter soggy. However, the cake can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Sticking: in some of my recipe tests, some of the batter portions of the cake that touched the surface of the pie plate would stick and come off when flipping the cake onto the cake stand. Greasing the pie dish seemed to help but not completely rectify this problem for me, and I haven’t quite figured out why this recipe does this. If parts of the cake still stick to your pie dish when flipping, don’t panic – using a knife, carefully scrape any stuck pieces off the pie plate, keeping them in tact as best you can, and stick them back onto the cake. You should hardly notice the pieces that have fallen off. For the cake pictured in this post, I had two 1/2-1 inch small pieces stick towards the rim of the pie plate.
  • Recipe inspired by Sally’s Baking Addiction
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: pineapple upside down cake, low fodmap, gluten free, lactose free, refined sugar free, paleo, cake recipes, dessert recipes

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