Caramelised pineapple and fennel upside-down cake recipe

Adam Liaw
Pineapple and Fennel upside down cake.
Pineapple and Fennel upside down cake. Photo: William Meppem

It may seem strange, but the aniseed flavour of fennel combines with the tartness of pineapple to make a fantastic match.


¼ cup white sugar

1 small fennel bulb, cut into thin half-moons (reserve fronds for garnish)

25g butter, plus extra for greasing

½ small pineapple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced lengthways into wedges

2 tbsp brown sugar

300ml double cream, to serve

Cake batter

2 cups plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground fennel

½ tsp salt

150g butter

½ cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract


1. Combine the white sugar and 1½ cups water in a small pan, bring to a simmer, add the fennel and cook for 10 minutes, until tender. Drain, reserving 2 tbsp of the fennel water. 

2. In a frying pan, heat the butter and fry the pineapple for about 3 minutes until lightly browned. Add the brown sugar and stir gently to create a caramel. Stir in the drained fennel and reserved fennel water, ensuring that the caramel thoroughly coats the pineapple and fennel. Arrange the pineapple and fennel in the base of a greased and lined 22cm-diameter cake tin. 

3. Preheat your oven to 180°C. For the cake batter, place the flour, baking powder, ground fennel and salt in a bowl and mix to combine. In a separate bowl, or the basin of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then mix through the vanilla. To this, add the dry ingredients a little at a time, mixing at a slow speed to form a smooth batter. 

4. Pour the batter over the pineapple and fennel and bake for 35 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin, then turn out, garnish with the reserved fennel fronds and serve with cream.

If you like this recipe, try Adam Liaw's Ki-si-min redux