Makrut Lime, Pear & Cucumber Upside Down Cake

I know its frowned upon to reimagine a classic. Don’t get me wrong, a good 70s inspired Pineapple Upside Down Cake is the epitome of food memory comfort food. Eyes ablaze as a child looking on to the sweet, caramelised plumes of steam that rose from the cake as it emerged in its candescent glory from the oven. Pineapple rings studded with cherries looked like ballerinas in technicolour tutus, pirouetting across the surface of the cake.

But now, in late spring, my mind is taken up with young verdant greens, pregnant with herbaceous potential. Before summer sees the colourful blooms emerge, now is the time to revel in the greens. And from this, this cake was born. Juicy Pears, Cucumber and Makrut Lime are combined in a marriage akin to the flavour of Pimm’s, Makrut Lime taking the place of more conventional borage and strawberries set aside until the rays of summer sweeten their flesh. A Varicose network of fresh cucumber adds that note of imminent summer.

This is one to try, don’t be put off by the unusual flavour combination, believe me, I have tried and tested this so many times, purely because it’s a joy to eat.

Serve with pillows of just whipped cream, forgiving to the sweet caramel ooze of the cake, dotted with sodden sweet, scented crumbs that have a waft of eastern promise…


3 tbsp Butter, unsalted

100g Caster Sugar

4 Makrut Lime leaves, shredded

300g Pears, sliced

¼ Cucumber, cut into ribbons with a vegetable peeler

200g Plain Flour

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 Vanilla Pod, seeds scraped

¼ tsp Salt

115g Butter

200g Caster Sugar

2 Large Eggs

120g Milk


1. Preheat oven 175C. Grease and line an 8” cake tin with non-stick paper and set aside.

2. Add the 3 tbsp butter and 100g sugar to a small pan and heat over a low heat until melted. Pour into your prepared tin and arrange the pear slices on top, followed by the Makrut Lime Leaves then the Cucumber.

3. Cream the remaining butter and sugar in a stand mixer until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla seeds and eggs and beat well.

4. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

5. Add the flour in two batches, alternating with the milk until only just combined.

6. Pour the batter over the pears and gently shake to level out.

7. Bake on the middle shelf for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean