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Nigella’s No-Fuss Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

The reason for making this cake began with a Desperate Housewives episode. My mother saw Bree’s gorgeous Upside Down Cake and said, “Mmmm… I want some. Why haven’t you made this cake?”

I shrugged, and then I made it.

And it wasn’t easy, mind you. I followed a recipe that called for making a thick caramel syrup base and for some reason, my sugar and butter just wouldn’t mix together and turn into a liquid caramel. The butter and sugar kept separating, and in one instance, I managed to make caramel candy crystals, which was lovely if only that was what I had been trying to do in the first place. I couldn’t get the caramel right even though I watched the video and followed the instructions over and over.

By my third try and failure, I wanted to cry as I threw another batch to join the sugar and butter already laying wasted at the bottom of the trash bin. Pineapple Upside-Down Cake is a classic! How can it be so difficult to make?

By luck, I found Nigella’s YouTube video promoting her version of the cake found in her book, Nigella Express, which I happen to have a copy of. As much as it shames me to admit it, I haven’t opened the book in ages! And I am so glad all that lead me to rediscover this absolutely easy and fluffily delicious recipe.

This recipe has the perfect sweetness, and a fluffy cake that oozes of pineapple flavor and fragrance, because the batter itself has some pineapple juice. Plus I like that it isn’t as thick as the typical version, or as heavy on the stomach as a dessert. And staying true to the “express” theme of her book, Nigella’s technique for the recipe makes it so easy and quick to make, as opposed to having to cook your caramel and wash more kitchenware. The most effort you would give here is arranging the pineapples and cherries. This would definitely be my go-to upside down cake from now on.

Nigella's No-Fuss Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This recipe is a fuss-free version of the beloved classic that does not require making a caramel. It has the perfect sweetness, and a fluffy cake that oozes of pineapple flavor and fragrance, because the batter itself has some pineapple juice.

Makes one 8 or 9-inch round pan


  • 2 tablespoons sugar, brown or white
  • canned pineapple rings, 9 small and 6 large ones
  • about 1/3 cup Maraschino cherries, sliced in half
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons juice from the canned pineapples
  • butter, for greasing pan


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF (205ºC) and position the oven rack to the middle. Butter an 8- or 9-inch non-springform round pan.
  • 2. Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons sugar over the buttered base and arrange the pineapple slices in a circular pattern, filling the empty spaces with cherries.
  • 3. Mix the flour, butter, sugar, eggs, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl until the batter is smooth. You can do this in a food processor, mixer, or with your hands. Then pour in the 3 tablespoons juice to thin the batter a bit.
  • 4. Once combined, pour the mixture carefully over the arranged fruits. Gently spread out the batter to cover everything, taking care not to put too much force to avoid having the fruits overly embedded into the batter.
  • 5. Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted to the center comes out clean (be careful not to poke a hole to deep that it will reach the fruits underneath). Ease a spatula around the edge of the pan, place a plate on top, and then with one swift move, flip the cake upside down.


Adapted from Nigella Lawson
Until I figure out how to make caramel to save my life, I’ll be staying away from making it. I love that this recipe uses only a couple of tablespoons of sugar for caramelizing but it works to make a nice shiny glaze no less.

I am under the impression, much like Nigella, that there’s really nothing wrong with using canned pineapples or bottled cherries, especially if you’re in a hurry, or like me you get the idea of doing something like this on a whim. But of course, if you’ve got a lot of time on your hands to peel and slice fresh pineapples, all the better. You could probably squeeze some of it to use in place of the pineapple juice that comes with the canned ones. I’m sure Bree would approve.


  • Wilbert Panuelos

    The pineapple upside down cake was delicious! I loved the combination of all the flavors of this recipe. This can be a snack for the whole family. I’ll help you make it again. = ]

  • Aparna

    My first attempt at pineapple upside down cake, and your recipe was perfect. My family and friends enjoyed the cake. A big thank you to you.

  • Amelie

    I changed the recipe w a bit and made pineapple upside down cupcakes, same process and ingredients. I quartered the pineapple slices and put two of each on the bottom of each cupcake. I made 8 cupcakes with 4 slices. I cooked them for 10 min on 190 fan. They came out really well

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