Retro Cake: Pineapple Upside-down: GF & Non-GF

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This is a desert that is more of a pudding than a cake. My Mum used to make this when we were small and maybe that is why I think of it as great comfort food. I hadn’t made it in years and then a friend of mine was saying that she loved pineapple in deserts and I remembered how much I loved this. I love deserts that are served warm, with whipped cream or ice cream melting over the sides. When tipped out this pudding cake should be a deep caramel colour and should smell amazing.

This is also very retro, having come from my Mums Margaret Patton cookbook, a book that has long since lost its spine from use and age. It is adapted here to be GF, for a non GF version just use regular flour and omit the xanthum gum.

The original recipe calls for glace cherries to be placed in the centre of each pineapple ring but I haven’t been able to get a clear answer anywhere on whether glace cherries are GF. The internet failed me there so I just left them out.

V11.pinapple upsidedown cake


  • 5 oz / 140 grms butter
  • 5 oz / 140 grms sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 6oz / 170 grms of Doves farm plain flour
  • ½ tsp of xanthum gum
  • 1 ½ tsp of GF baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 tablespoons milk.

For the topping

  • 2oz / 56 grms butter
  • 2oz / 56 grms dark brown sugar
  • I small tin of pineapple rings in juice


  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until soft and light, use a gentle speed at first otherwise you will end up with butter and sugar all over your walls, the counter and yourself!
  2. Whisk eggs with a fork and beat gradually into the butter mixture, this is a pain if you don’t have a standing mixer as you keep having to start and stop unless you can convince someone to hold the mixer while you pour.
  3. Sift flour, xanthum gum and baking powder in to the batter and fold in, mix the milk and vanilla and fold alternately into the creamed mixture.
    The mix should be a soft dropping consistency, if it isn’t then you could add a drop more milk or a tablespoon of the pineapple juice.
  4. For the topping melt the 2oz butter in a 8 or 9 inch cake tin, I used a nine inch as I prefer a ratio of more pineapple to sponge. I have a heavy bottomed tin so I melted the butter in the tin over a low heat you could also just melt the butter in a pot or in the microwave and pour it in to the tin.
  5. Top the melted butter with 2 oz brown sugar and arrange pineapple rings over the butter / sugar mix. If you are going to use the glace cherries now is the time to place them in the centre of the pineapple rings.
  6. Spoon over the cake batter and smooth out, gently, with a spatula or knife.
  7. Bake at gas mark 4 , 325f, 160c for an hour. If the top starts to brown you can loosely cover the tin with tinfoil. The cake is done when the sponge has pulled away from the sides of the tin and springs back when you press it or a cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Leave to cool for a few minutes and then run a knife around the edge to loosen. Place your serving plate over the tin and carefully turn it over so that the cake slides out on to the plate.
  9. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream.


Ina Garten’s Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes

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If you have ever watched any of Ina Garten’s cooking shows you will know that her food is all about pleasure. The pleasure of finding good ingredients, the pleasure in the process of bringing a recipe together and the pleasure of serving and eating great food. She truly is all about the joy of cooking. Her carrot cake cupcakes make an appearance at almost every family event we celebrate as they work well with regular, spelt or GF flour. This is the one recipe about which I can, with my hand on my heart, say there is really no difference in taste or texture between the GF and non GF versions. I was invited to brunch recently and wanted to bring something that I knew everyone could enjoy including me and I knew these would be a winner and indeed they were.

If you don’t use the frosting these cupcakes are also dairy free.

For the frosting I would advise going for good old Kerrygold butter and Philadelphia cream cheese. I have tried this frosting with store own brand butter and cream cheese and the resulting frosting was a so runny I couldn’t ice the cupcakes with it. It still tasted amazing so I put it in a bowl and let people spoon it over their cakes. If you can find Philadelphia in the foil block rather than in a tub then definitely use that.

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For the cakes:

  • 2 cups of caster sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup of sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups of Doves Farm plain GF flour ( or 2 cups of spelt flour or regular plain flour if not making GF)
  • 1 teaspoon of xanthum gum
  • 2 teaspoons of GF baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 3 cups of grated carrots (weigh just under a punt of peeled carrots to get 3 cups grated)
  • 1 cup of raisins ( I used sultanas as that is what I had in the house, just don’t use miserable bitter little currants)
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat your oven to Gas 4, 350 F, 180 C
  2. Sift the flour, xanthum gum, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in to a bowl.
  3. In another bowl beat together the sugar, oil and vanilla.
  4. Add the eggs one and a time and beat in to the mixture.
  5. With your whisk at a low speed, so your kitchen doesn’t end up covered in flour, add half of the flour mix to the batter.
  6. Add the grated carrots, raisins and chopped walnuts to the remaining half of the flour mix and stir until well combined and then add to the batter.
  7. At this point I do away with the whisk and use a wooden spoon to mix everything together.
  8. Line your muffin tins or bun trays with paper cases. I got two trays of 12 out of this quantity of batter.
  9. Turn your oven up to Gas 6, 400 F, 200 C
  10. Fill the paper cases up two thirds, you want to leave space for frosting once the cakes are cooked.
  11. Bake at the high temperature for ten minutes and then reduce the temperature back down to Gas 4, 350 F,180 C and leave to cook for 35 mins or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  12. Leave to cool for a few minutes and then take out of the trays and put on a cooling rack until the cakes have cooled completely.

For the frosting:

  • 3/4 lb (12 oz, 340 grams) of cream cheese
  • 1/2 lb ( 8 oz, 225 grams) of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 lb (16 oz, 450 grams) of icing sugar
  1. Cream together the butter, cream chefs and vanilla extract. At a low speed, this time so your kitchen doesn’t get covered in icing sugar, add the icing sugar and be at until smooth.
  2. Either pipe the frosting on to the cakes with an icing bag or use a spoon to swirl the icing on the the cooled cupcakes.



Gluten Free Apple Pie

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Apple Pie is luscious in all its incarnations, unless the incarnation is that of the pale, dry, flat variety often found in super markets. I don’t understand how you can bake something until it is cooked to near desiccation and still have it be fish belly white.

Apple pie should ooze fruit. If it is in a traditional pie the lid should be crisp with sugar with the juice of the apples bubbling and sticky at the pinched edges of the pastry, if it is an open tart the fruit should be glazed until the glisten and if it is a tart tatin there should be a deeply coloured caramel covering the gold of the apples. There is no excuse for bad apple pie.

When I was 12 I went to France with my Aunt and her family, I remember three things from that holiday, fresh pastries in the morning, crepes still hot from the pan filled with Nutella and a slice of apple pie that was very different from the excellent pies my Mum made. This was an open tart, filled with sliced apples suspended in custard, it was glazed with apricot jam and was very very good.  I have been trying to replicate that pie for a while and this recipe is the closest I have come.

I have tweaked this recipe, very slightly from the recipe for Besancon Apple Tart, as given by Darina Allen and Rosemary Kearney in their book Healthy Gluten Free Eating.

9″ springform / removable base tart shell, buttered.


Tart Shell

  • 1 quantity sweet short crust pastry  (see previous recipe)
  • Egg wash

Apricot Glaze

  • 6 oz Apricot jam
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or water.


  • 3 – 4 golden delicious apples
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 250ml single cream.
  • 1/8  teaspoon of cinnamon

Preheat your oven to gas mark 4 /180 c / 350 f

Make the apricot glaze by combining the jam and the lemon juice or water in a pot and melting over a low heat, strain the glaze through a sieve and then add it back to the pot. Keep it in the pot so you can warm it slightly before brushing the pastry base and again before giving the tart its finally glaze.

Take the shortcrust pastry that has been chilled for an hour and roll out between two sheets of cling film. Take your buttered tart tin and removing the top layer of cling film carefully lift the pastry and turn it gently over the tin. Ease the pastry in to the tin and then remove the bottom layer of cling film.  Trim the pastry , don’t trim too close to the top of the tin as pastry will shrink while it bakes. Pop the tin in to the fridge for ten minutes so the pastry can rest.

Line with parchment paper and baking beans. I have used tin foil when out of parchment paper but it is more difficult to remove from the par baked tart shell. My baking beans are two bags of dried chickpeas.

Blind bake the pastry shell for 15 – 20 minutes and then remove the parchment paper and beans, take care with this in case the pastry sticks to the paper and tears, if it does use some of the pastry trimmings to patch the damage. Brush the shell with egg wash and return to the oven for 3 – 4 minutes. Leave it to cool slightly and then brush the base with some of the apricot glaze.

Peel, core and quarter the apples. Cut the quarters in to even slices abut 3mm thick. Arrange the slices in the shell in an overlapping circle, starting at the outer edge and working in towards the centre.

In a bowl whisk the eggs with the sugar, cinnamon and cream and strain this through a sieve over the apples.

A good tip is to put your tart tin on a baking sheet.  Half fill the tart shell and move it on the baking sheet in to the oven and then once it is on the shelf pour on the rest of the custard. I have in the past ended up with more custard on the floor than in the shell by trying to move it to the oven while full!

Bake for about 35 – 40 mins until the custard is set and the apples are cooked. Remove from the oven and brush with the warmed apricot glaze. The glaze not only gives a beautiful glossy appearance to your tart but also gives a lovely flavour.

You can serve this tart warm with whipped cream or ice cream or when it is cool you can keep slicing off pieces to nibble on every time you walk past it in the kitchen.

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Shortcrust Pastry: Gluten Free and Otherwise

Credit: Victoria Owens

Shortcrust pastry is the simple result of combining three ingredients, flour, fat and water. It is versatile. Whether as the lightly salted lid on a bubbling savory pie, the buttery and crumbly shell of a quiche or sweet and crisp in a fruit tart, short crust pastry is a pleasure to eat.

It is also a pleasure to make. Combine half the amount of cold fat to flour, rub together to create a breadcrumb consistency, add sufficient cold water to form a firm but pliant dough, leave to rest in the fridge. Roll out to fit your tin and away you go.

Things aren’t so straight forward when making GF shortcrust pastry. Pastry works because of the gluten in the flour, this is what gives dough it elasticity, you rest and chill dough to allow the gluten to relax, other wise your dough will shrink in the tin. Without the gluten therefore the process is a little more complex.

The first thing I learned to bake GF was pastry. I now have a few different recipes in my repertoire but I the one i most frequently use is shortcrust. The basic rule still applies, half the quantity of fat to flour, you just need to add an extra ingredient. Xanthum gum, this provides the stretch that GF flour lacks.

In recipes on this site (unless stated other wise) I will always use the Doves Farm GF flours,  I am familiar with them and they work for me, I also use the Doves Farm Xanthum gum as it is readily available in most health food stores.

My fat of choice is butter, occasionally half butter, half lard, but never margarine, I am sure margarine has its place but I firmly believe that place is not in a baked good. It aggrieves me deeply when I am asked to fork out near €4 for a single brownie that has been made using margarine and its insidious cousin, cooking chocolate. Seriously, producers of gluten free treats I know you need to keep costs down given the exorbitant cost of GF flour but give me real chocolate and real butter, please.

This is the quantity I would make to line an 8″ or 9″ tin.

  • 8oz / 225g Doves Farm plain GF flour
  • 4oz / 110g chilled butter  cut in to cubes
  • 1 level teaspoon of Xanthum Gum
  • Pinch of salt
  • Iced water

To make a sweet short crust pastry stir in 2 oz/ 50g caster sugar to the mix when it is at the breadcrumb stage.

In to a bowl sift the flour, xanthum gum and salt.

Add the chilled butter and rub in to the flour mix, use the tips of your fingers and be gentle. Mix until you get a texture like breadcrumbs.

Make a well in the centre and add the iced water a tablespoon at a time. Mix with a fork or your hands until the pastry comes together.The pastry should have come together in a ball but should not be sticky. It will take a few attempts until you can tell by the feel if you have added enough water or too much.

Pat the pastry in to a disc shape and wrap in cling film if you are going the chill it. If you have time I would advise chilling the pastry however there have been occasions when I have been known to roll out the pastry straight away, particularly if I have rocked in from work after 19.00 and I am making a pie or a quiche for dinner. When I am hungry rules can get relegated down to guidelines.

To roll out the pastry I use two squares of baking parchment or cling film cut larger than the size of my tin, this will make your life much easier than if you try to roll out the pastry on a floured work surface. GF pastry is fragile and given to disintegrating when you try to lift it from work surface to tin.

Place a square of cling film on the work surface, place your pastry disc and cover with the other sheet. Roll the pastry to the desired thickness and size and then remove the top layer of cling film. With great care lift the pasty on it’s bed of cling film and slide your hand underneath and bring it next to your greased tin, with even greater care turn the pastry over and lay it into the tin. While you can use baking parchment,  cling film can be easier to use as it is softer and easier to manoeuvre when you are placing the pastry in the tin.

Lightly press the pastry in to the tin, it may break, to be honest it most likely will, so don’t be disheartened, slowly peel back the cling film. If the pastry has made it in one piece, well done, if not you can now set about filling in holes and smoothing over cracks.

Remember perfection is overrated.

Credit: Victoria Owens