Pineapple Cupcakes with Orange, Black Pepper and Basil Frosting


I came across this 3 ingredient pineapple cake recipe which has been doing the rounds on Australian internet for the past year or so, unsurprisingly with its simple ingredient list of just self raising flour, sugar and crushed pineapple.


Whilst it seems this basic recipe is published all over the place, this website claims it’s own Jennifer Cheung to be the creator of the recipe.



I found the basic recipe to create a dense and rather gummy and stodgy cake, but I adored the idea of this simple recipe using store cupboard ingredients and which is naturally vegan so no egg replacer in sight! With a few tweaks, the batter baked into a moist and fluffy sponge.


Firstly, I switched to pineapple chunks in juice as opposed to crushed pineapple and definitely avoided that which was in syrup which would make the cake way to sweet and I’m sure increase the heaviness. The juice from the canned pineapple moistens the batter and creates an acidic environment to react with the baking powder to make the cake rise (the only secret to why this cake works!), and the chunks evenly distribute in the thick batter which keeps it light as opposed to crushed pineapple which makes the cake too heavy. Secondly, I subbed out some of the Natvia (or plain white sugar) for brown sugar which adds wonderful caramel tones and takes the edge off some of the otherwise pure candy-like sweetness, giving it more depth and dimension.


I used plain flour to control the raising agent, since I was making frosted cupcakes with the batter, I didn’t want too much of a dome. I added just a little oil and plant milk which really makes a difference in the tender crumb and keeping qualities of the cupcakes.


And finally, I topped them with a delicious frosting with just enough peppery notes to offset the sweet orange. Orange, basil and pineapple have been a favourite combination ever since I discovered an amazing smoothie in a juice bar in my local town, it really works so well and the black pepper just accentuates the basil’s aniseed flavour, it doesn’t make the cake taste savoury!


Don’t forget to enter the Natvia Natural Sweetener giveaway!





Ingredients: Makes 12 ‘fairy’ cakes

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup Natvia baking blend or granulated erythritol or unrefined sugar
  • 1/4 cup unrefined brown sugar (or more Natvia)
  • 1 can (400g/14 oz) pineapple chunks in juice, undrained
  • 1 tbsp melted coconut or vegetable oil
  • 2-4 tbsp plant milk or water


  • 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp vegan margarine or softened coconut oil or coconut butter
  • 1/4 cup Natvia icing mix or powdered sugar
  • zest of 1 medium orange, finely grated
  • 1 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 2 grinds of black pepper
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh basil
  • 12 small pieces of dried pineapple (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180’C/350’F and line 12 holes of a bun tin with fairy cake cases.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together into a large bowl then whisk in the Natvia/sugars.
  3. Make a well and add the pineapple and juice and the oil. Fold in then add 2 tbsp of milk, the batter should be a dropping consistency, if it seems too dry, add more milk a tbsp at a time.
  4. Use an ice cream scoop or a spoon to evenly portion the batter between the cases, they will be almost full.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until risen, golden and they spring back to touch. Remove from the oven and after a few minutes, remove the cakes from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool.
  6. Make the frosting. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to cream the cream cheese and margarine (or coconut oil/butter) until silky and combined. Gradually add the icing mix or powdered sugar and when all moistened (so that you’re kitchen doesn’t become one big puff of sugar!), beat until fluffy. Mix in the orange zest and juice, pepper and basil.
  7. Top the cakes with the dried pineapple, if using and serve. 2015-03-31 02-20-39

Nutritional Benefits

No cholesterol

Low in sodium

Very high in manganese

High in vitamin C


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13 Responses to Pineapple Cupcakes with Orange, Black Pepper and Basil Frosting

  1. These look like they could possibly be our favorite new cupcakes if we knew how to bake. Maybe our human friends will make these and leave them where we can reach them ^_^.

  2. The Vegan 8 says:

    These look so amazing Poppy! Way to go on creating a recipe that is light and fluffy! I love the simplicity and I’m sure they taste absolutely divine!!

  3. Becca Lin says:

    These cupcakes look so cute and delicious! I haven’t tried any pineapple bakeries before, so I definitely want to take a bite out of your photos 😛

  4. trixpin says:

    Yummy! Brown sugar and pineapple sounds like a delicious combination 🙂

  5. It sounds delicious, and it looks delicious! I love pineapple in my cake as well. Thanks!

  6. What a lovely combination of flavors, Poppy! And they’re cute as buttons!

  7. viedelavegan says:

    Wait, you’re an Aussie?! How did I not realise this – I thought you were American all these months I’ve been visiting your blog! Yay for Aussies 🙂 and these cupcakes look awesome, need to try this pineapple orange basil combination for myself!

  8. Cecilia says:

    They look so delicious! Thanks for sharing.

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