Pineapple Poppy Seed Cake


I recently collaborated with Tate & Lyle Sugars drawing inspiration from their Tate & Lyle range of brown and golden sugars. My latest recipe is a tropical twist on the classic lemon and poppy seed cake, and was inspired by Tate & Lyle Light Muscovado Sugar. The sugar honours the Caribbean’s cane producing islands and their vibrant, colourful, diverse cultures and sunny disposition.

I’ve created a bake that celebrates these influences and produced a unique and delicious celebration cake. The creamy aromatic flavour of the sugar works wonderfully in the cake’s sponge, pineapple syrup and coconut cream. It’s warm honey colour and delightfully moist crumbly texture is also perfect for creating the appearance of Caribbean sand seen around the base of the cake once decorated.


Having been lucky enough to visit the Caribbean on a trip to St Lucia, I fell in love with the sheer abundance of pineapples and coconut the island had to offer. Therefore it felt appropriate to feature these two ingredients in both the actual cake and its decoration.


Pineapple flowers make gorgeous decorations for cakes and I’ve given them an extra special twist by turning them into sun drenched pineapple sunflowers, by the addition of poppy seeds. As well as being used in the cake itself, the little black seeds ‘naturally’ help to resemble the centre of a sunflower, creating extra flourish and flavour. Using honey like glue in the decoration stage of the cake is also a subtle nod to the sugar’s warm honey colour.


Hopefully you will get to enjoy a taste of Caribbean nectar through making the cake and embrace new techniques and inspiration along the way.

For more delicious recipe inspiration, or information about the Tate & Lyle sugars for baking, please visit


400ml can of coconut milk-full fat
1 Medium pineapple
200g coconut oil
200g Tate & Lyle light muscovado sugar
2 large eggs
200g self-raising flour, sifted
200g pineapple puree*
200g desiccated coconut
2 tbsp. poppy seeds
2-4 tbsp. Tate & Lyle light muscovado sugar
400ml double cream

Runny honey
poppy seeds
edible gold glitter
copper crunch
Tate & Lyle light muscovado sugar



The day/night before you make the cake, prepare your can of coconut milk for your whipped coconut cream topping. To do this place your unopened can of coconut milk laid upside-down in the fridge and leave it to chill overnight. You can also prepare the pineapple flowers and puree for the cake now too.


Preheat the oven to 120C/100C fan. Lay some doubled-up sheets of kitchen paper on your work surface and place the pineapple on its side on a chopping board and slice off the base and top

Remove the best-looking pineapple leaves from the pineapple top and set aside to decorate the cake with later (you will need about 5 to 6 of varying lengths). Stand the peeled pineapple upright and using a sharp serrated knife, such as a bread knife, cut down all around it to slice off the rind. Remove the ‘eyes’ from the pineapple with the tip of a small sharp knife

Lay the pineapple on its side again and cut it across into slices about 2mm thick. Spread these out on the kitchen paper and place more kitchen paper on top of them, pressing down gently so the excess juice will be absorbed. You can repeat this blotting process with more kitchen paper if your pineapple is very juicy

Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Lay four or six of the pineapple slices side by side on the tray, then slide them, still on the sheet of parchment, off the tray and directly on to the oven shelf. Repeat with the remaining pineapple slices on more parchment sheets

You only need 5 or 6 flowers to decorate the cake itself, but I find making double to fill a 12-hole muffin tin best (you then have the option of picking out the best ones, or equally keeping some to decorate future cakes and bakes). Bake for about 1 hour or until dried out but not brittle, flipping the slices over after 30 minutes to prevent them from sticking to the parchment too much

While the pineapple is baking, blitz the remainder of the pineapple into a puree using a food blender. Strain off the juice through a sift and use to soak the cake with later. This can be stored in a jam jar or other suitable container, together with a tbsp. of the Tate & Lyle muscovado sugar to create a sweet syrup. Weigh out the remaining puree (you don’t want to use any more than 200g in the cake)

Remove the pineapple slices from the oven while they are still flexible enough to bend and push them gently into the holes of a muffin tin to shape them into flowers. A regular muffin tin will produce more open looking blooms; mini-muffin tins will create tighter flower heads. Put them back in the oven and leave for 15–30 minutes to dry out fully and set into the flower shape


Preheat the oven to 180°C, fan 160°C. Grease and line a round 7” deep cake tin, or two sandwich tins of the same size. Place your coconut oil into a small/medium saucepan, remove your can of coconut milk from the fridge and drain out the coconut milk that has separated from the cream into the saucepan

Scoop the cream out of the can and place it in a medium to large bowl, before placing this back in the fridge to chill. You will be using this bowl to beat the topping mix together later

Heat the coconut mixture together over a medium heat until it has melted, remove the saucepan from the heat and leave to cool slightly

Using an electric hand beater, whisk the sugar, coconut mixture and eggs together until combined into an emulsion. Sift over the flour and fold through the mix, add in the set aside pineapple puree, poppy seeds and desiccated coconut and fold this fully through the cake batter

Transfer into your lined tin/s and bake for approx 50 minutes if baking it in a deep tin (25 if using two sandwich tins). Either way keep an eye and check on the cakes 5/10 minutes before this time. They are baked once they look golden brown and a sharp knife or skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake. Leave to cool slightly in their tins before transferring to cooling racks to cool fully


Once fully cooled prepare your pineapple sunflowers, gold pineapple leaves and make your coconut cream mix and to decorate the cake with

To create your pineapple sunflowers, select 5 to 6 of the best dried pineapple flowers and dab their centres with honey using a paintbrush to act as ‘glue’

Next sprinkle and cover with poppy seeds, tapping off any excess seeds. To decorate your pineapple leaves, lightly paint the tops of your set aside pineapple leaves with more honey and dust with your edible gold glitter. Set both the flowers and leaves aside while you prepare your coconut cream mix


Remove your bowl with chilled coconut cream from the fridge add in the double cream and Tate & Lyle light muscovado sugar. Beat together until fully combined and thickened


Slice your cooled and baked cake in half and apply your set aside pineapple syrup to both sponges, cut side up, with a paintbrush. Next take the cake stand, plate or display board you will using to serve your cake on, and dab a bit of the coconut cream on to it, to act as glue, before laying over one of your cake sponges-cut side up on to it

Using a spatula, transfer just under half of your mixture on to half of the cake spreading over its surface. Place the other cake half on top and carefully set into place

Next transfer more of the coconut cream around the sides of the cake. Once all of the sides are covered, run the spatula right around the cake. Continue spreading and scraping until you have a light covering of frosting sitting on the surface of the cake and a fairly smooth finish. You are not looking to completely cover the sponge crumb, but instead aim for a semi-naked finish. Cover the top of the cake with the remaining topping, pushing the mixture over the edges. Then once smooth and run your spatula around the exterior edge of the cake to collect the overhanging mixture from the top

Take your gold tipped pineapple leaves and with a pair of sharp scissors cut their base ends into a subtle point to make it easier to insert them into the cake. Press into the top of the cake in a cluster, ensuring the leaves are at different heights to create an organic yet structured finish

Place 4 pineapple flowers on to the top of the cake, as the picture and film illustrate. To decorate the sides of the cake with the remaining 2 flowers, take 2 straight sewing pins and carefully press into the centre of the flowers and then insert into the side of the cake. Making sure you remember to remove the pins before eating the cake and flowers!

To add a bit of Caribbean sparkle to the cake, subtly sprinkle some of the copper crunch over the top of the cake, in and around the pineapple flowers before finally adding a light dusting of edible gold glitter. Finally take some of the Tate & Lyle light muscovado sugar and scatter around the base of the cake to resemble sand, before serving.