Pineapple adds a little measure of sunshine into every bite

Aoife Noonan: This week’s bake is a homage to that retro favourite — pineapple upside-down cake

The idea of an upside-down pineapple cake evokes nostalgic memories of a dessert popularised in the 1980s. Soft sponge forms the base of this classic cake which is topped with canned pineapple rings and studded with luscious pink cherries — the glacé kind that look like little jewels.

This week’s bake is a homage to that retro favourite, using the same concept but adding a few tweaks to give it a modern twist. I tend to leave out the cherries; I’m not the biggest fan of the texture of the glacé version.

However, I love using pineapple in desserts. No matter how you use it, it tends to add a little measure of sunshine into every mouthful.

To really let the flavours of the pineapple shine, first I make a quick caramel to baste the pineapple slices with. Instead of using sugar to make the caramel, which sometimes tends to cause a little panic, I simply heat maple syrup and reduce it slightly. The maple also adds another layer of flavour to the dish. Rather than using canned pineapple, I am thinly slicing a fresh pineapple, core and all. I much prefer how the thinner pineapple eats in the finished dessert, as it melts together with the sponge once baked.

I add a scraped vanilla pod to the maple syrup before adding the pineapple to the pan. The speckled seeds permeate throughout and end up coating the fruit completely. I leave the pod in there too as it looks beautiful once the dish is turned out. If there was ever a time to use a vanilla pod, this is it, however, feel free to use vanilla extract in its place if you don’t have one.

Once the thin pineapple slices have cooked for a few minutes in the hot maple syrup, to soften slightly, they are arranged in a cake tin with each pineapple slice slightly overlapping. This will serve as the top of the cake once turned out, so take your time with this bit. Any remaining maple syrup caramel can be poured over the top, before piling in a simple sponge. The sponge is light and airy with flavours of tropical coconut, perfect for summer. It adds another dimension to the dessert and works perfectly with the pineapple.

I love to serve this with a little crème fraîche on the side and some freshly grated lime zest on the top. Coconut or another tropical fruit sorbet would also be beautiful with it. The baked cake will keep well for a few days in an airtight container.

Recipe: Pineapple coconut upside-down cake