Michelle Darmody: Upside-down cakes

Sticky gooey fruit and a crumbly dense sponge — what is not to like? writes Michelle Darmody.

Upside-down cakes are good for those without much baking patience or equipment. You do not need a steady hand or a piping bag. This is more rough and ready baking, more about flavour than prettiness.

You can use the same pan, that you caramalise the fruit in, to bake the cake if you wish or prepare a springform tin with parchment.

There are obvious advantages in doing everything in the one pan and saving time on lining a tin, but I find when using the sponge topping, the cake turns upside-down easier from a springform tin.

I generally like to caramalise the fruit before pouring on the sponge or pastry layer, it gives added flavour and richness to the final cake. Pineapple and banana, two quite sweet tropical fruits, work well for this type of cake as they form a good, syrupy toffee. I also like to use mixed berries for a tarter, less sticky version.

By adding some spices to the sweetened fruit, it helps to add depth and a little bit more intensity. The cardamon works well with the pineapple and some nutmeg is good with the banana.

For the more traditional old-fashioned version of the pineapple upside-down cake, you can add a half a glacé cherry to the centre of each of your pineapple rings.

Pineapple and cardamom upside-down cake


For the fruit layer

60g of butter

1 small pineapple, peeled, cored and sliced into rings about 1 cm thick

130g of golden caster sugar

For the sponge layer

270g of butter

250g of golden caster sugar

5 eggs

1/2 tsp of ground cardamom

275g of self-raising flour


Line a 10-inch springform or loose base, round cake tin with parchment.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.

You will only need about five or six rings of pineapple to line the base of the 10-inch cake tin. Set aside, or eat, any extra ones.

Melt the butter in a heavy pan. Once the butter has melted add the amount of pineapple rings that you need. Fry them until they are just about to turn golden then sprinkle the sugar into the pan and allow to melt over a low heat. Scoop everything into the prepared cake tin, laying the pineapple rings flat.

Beat the sugar and butter in a mixer with the balloon attachment, until it becomes light and fluffy. Slowly add the eggs then add in the flour and cardamom to form a batter. Scoop this over the cooled pineapple and syrup. Flatten the top.

Bake for 50 minutes until golden and a skewer comes out clean. Set aside to cool in the tin for a quarter of an hour. Gently turn the cake upside-down onto a large plate.

Spiced apple tarte tatin



For the topping

100g of golden caster sugar

85g of butter, cold and cubed

6 apples - not too sweet - cored, peeled and sliced into rings

2 tsp of brandy

zest of 1 orange

1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon

2 star anise

For the base

300g of puff pastry flour for rolling


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Use a round heavy based pan that will accommodate all of the fruit and that can be transferred into the oven.

My pan is an 8 inch cast-iron and it works well.

Heat the sugar over a low heat until it is turning a rich golden colour. Stir in the butter to make a caramel. Stir in the brandy, zest, cinnamon and star anise.

Lay the apple rings into the pan. Place into the oven for ten minutes as you roll your pastry.

Roll the pastry and cut a disc an inch larger than the opening in your pan. It should comfortably sit on top and allow you to bunch around the edges.

Remove the pan from the oven and rest it on a chopping board or heatproof surface. Lay the pastry disc on top and ensure it sits well and is snug at the edges.

Prick it with a fork and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until golden.

Allow to cool in the pan for forty minutes then turn upside-down onto a large plate. Remove the star anise.

Banana spelt upside down cake


For the fruit layer

70g of butter

130g of muscovado sugar

4 bananas, peeled and roughly sliced

1/2 tsp of nutmeg

For the sponge layer

120g of butter

280g of sugar

160g of yogurt

240g of spelt flour

2 tsp of baking powder, sieved

1 tsp of cinnamon

1 tsp of ground ginger

1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp of vanilla essence


Line a 9 inch round springform tin with parchment.

Melt the butter and stir in the sugar. Heat gently until golden, stir in thenutmeg. Add the bananas to the pan to coat them. Transfer everything from the pan into the prepared cake tin.

Whisk the butter and sugar andturning the mixer down low add theyogurt until combined. Slowly add in the eggs. If the mixture starts to curdle spoon in some flour.

Mix the flour with the sieved baking powder and the spices. Add them to the batter.

Scoop the mixture on top of the fruit and flatten. Bake for 55 minutes until golden on top and a skewer comes out of the sponge clean. Allow to cool in the tin for ten minutes then gently turnupside-down onto a large plate.

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