This recipe offers an elegant twist on the classic pineapple upside-down cake, a dessert that’s been made and reimagined for decades. The basic concept is simple: pour cake batter over slices of fruit and flip the cake after baking to reveal a beautifully caramelized layer of fruit—in this case, pineapple. 

The batter in this version is uplifted with the addition of pink peppercorns and cardamom.



  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (250 = grams) butter, plus extra for greasing

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (250 grams) dark brown sugar

  • 4 green cardamom pods

  • 4 tablespoons dark rum 

    WNK- Code Noir Cookbook Code Noir: Afro-Caribbean Stories and Recipes Lelani lewis


  • 8 green cardamom pods (or 3/4 of a teaspoon of ground cardamom)

  • 20 pink peppercorns

  • 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons (400 grams) flour

  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder

  • 14 tablespoons (200 grams) of salted butter

  • 1 cup (200 grams) of dark brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

  • 3 large eggs

  • ⅔ cup (270 grams) of Greek yogurt

  • 1/2 cup 20 ml) of sunflower oil 


  • 2 medium pineapples

  • 1 recipe coconut mascarpone (see below)


  • a mandolin

  • 12 muffin cups

  • 9.5-inch (24 cm) (approximately)

  • springform pan

  • a mortar and pestle 


1. Begin by creating “pineapple flowers” for decoration: Preheat the oven to 350 F (100 C). Peel one pineapple but leave the hard core intact. Using a mandolin or sharp knife, slice the pineapple into the thinnest possible crosssections. Pat the slices dry with kitchen paper. Lay them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 50 minutes, so they begin to dry. Flip the slices and return them to the oven for another 50 minutes. Drying times may vary; they are ready when the slices can be easily snapped between your fingers. Press them into muffin cups, forming them into a flower shape. Place them on a plate and leave to dry overnight in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator, as they will soften).

2. For the cake, preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).

3. Remove the skin and any brown spots from the second pineapple. Cut away the hard core without damaging the flesh (as if you were coring an apple) and slice the fruit lengthwise into 3/4-inch (2 cm) slices.

4. Prepare the caramel: Warm the butter, sugar, cardamom pods, and rum in a small pan over low to medium heat. Let it gently simmer until it starts to bubble. Meanwhile, grease a springform pan with butter. Remove the cardamom pods from the caramel with a fork, then pour the hot caramel over the bottom of the pan. Arrange the pineapple slices in a single layer over the caramel.

5. In a mortar, bruise 4 cardamom pods and extract the seeds. Discard the pods. Grind the seeds with the pink peppercorns until finely powdered.

6. Mix the flour and baking powder in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whip the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract with a hand mixer until fluffy. Mix in the eggs. Gradually add the flour while continuing to mix. Next, add the Greek yogurt and then the sunflower oil. Stir in the pink pepper, cardamom, and a pinch of salt at the very end. Pour the batter over the pineapple and bake for 45-50 minutes. Check if the cake is ready by inserting a toothpick or fork; if it comes out clean, the cake is done. Allow it to cool for 10-15 minutes, then flip it onto a cooling rack and remove the springform pan.

7. If you are feeling extra you can make another batch of the caramel to drizzle on top.

8. Once the cake has completely cooled, serve the coconut mascarpone. Drizzle with the extra caramel and decorate with the pineapple flowers to serve an elegant and refreshing dessert sure to impress.


  • 1/2 cup (15 g) of dried grated coconut

  • 1/2 cup (100 g) of mascarpone

  • 2 tablespoons (25 g) of powdered sugar

  • 1 vanilla bean

  • a pinch of salt 

To prepare the coconut mascarpone, heat a frying pan over low to medium heat. Once the pan is hot, toast the coconut until it begins to brown and emit a pleasing aroma. Remove immediately from the heat to prevent burning. In a bowl, mix the toasted coconut with the mascarpone and powdered sugar. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and a pinch of salt to the mascarpone mixture. Stir well and set aside

From Code Noir: Afro-Caribbean Stories and Recipes by Lelani Lewis (February 2024, Tra Publishing

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