Pineapple, Pumpkin and Pecan Upside-Down Cake

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This cake is rich, moist and dense without being heavy. The sweet and earthy tones of the pumpkin are enhanced by the nutty quinoa flour, and brightened by the sweet and tangy pineapple shining on top. Pecans add a wonderful crunch, sweet and rich, tying together the pumpkin and pineapple. As an added bonus, this cake is perfect for the holidays as it can be shared with people on all sorts of different diets- it is not only vegan, but gluten-free and refined sugar free.

Upside down cakes are made by lining the bottom of your pan with a sugary topping (in this case, maple syrup), that will bind the fruit you choose to the rest of your cake. This gives you the opportunity to lay out your fruit in a pattern that will lead to a beautiful cake surface. I designed mine by placing one ring of pineapple in the center, and cutting the rest smaller so they would fit evenly around it, but there are all sorts of patterns you could try.


On top of the pan filled with what looks like pineapple and nut soup, you will spread your batter- yours should look more orange than mine does here, the picture definitely washed the color out of this image. Use a silicone spatula to gently spread the batter to make a smooth(ish), even layer. It’s important that you spread the batter to the edges, or you will be leaving channels for hot, boiling maple syrup to escape, but it is also important to make sure you are spreading to the sides and not pushing downwards as you don’t want to push your carefully laid fruit around.

When baking, place an empty baking sheet below your cake to catch any drips (from the above mentioned boiling syrup)- I learned this the hard way, and have had the pleasant task of scraping big clumps of burnt sugar from the bottom of my oven.


Pineapple, Pumpkin and Pecan Upside-Down Cake


  • 2/3 cup agave nectar
  • 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup sunflower seed oil (plus a little to grease the pan)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups quinoa flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 can pineapple rings (in juice, not syrup)
  • ½-1 cup pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190 C). In a large mixing bowl, combine the agave, pumpkin puree, oil, vanilla extract and vinegar and mix until it is a smooth consistency. In a second bowl, whisk together the quinoa flour, baking soda and salt before adding the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mixing thoroughly. Set aside for now.

2. In a small saucepan on the stove, heat the maple syrup until it is boiling. Taking care not to let it boil over, allow to cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Grease a 9 inch round glass pan and pour the maple syrup into the pan. Lay the pineapple slices in on top of the maple syrup and sprinkle the pecans in-between and/or on top of the pineapple rings. Lastly, add the pumpkin batter, spreading gently so it covers the pan somewhat evenly but without pushing hard enough to displace the pineapple and pecans.

3. Place the cake in the oven, adding a baking sheet below to catch any syrup that might bubble over. Let bake for around 60 minutes- when it is finished, a toothpick inserted into the cake should come out dry (assuming you don’t check as deep as the pineapple). Take out of the oven and wait about 5 minutes before running a knife along the edge, and flipping it onto a plate, tapping the bottom of the pan to help it release. If any of the topping doesn’t stick, you can simply put it back in place and smooth over with a little of the syrup in the pan. Wait at least half an hour before cutting and eating.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. mistimaan says:

    Nice recipe


  2. veryveganval says:

    Thank you! I had fun developing it!


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