1 super-sweet pineapple
200g caster sugar
2 star anise
2 bay leaves
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways, seeds scraped out
1 cinnamon stick
For the topping
150g softened butter
150g dark muscovado sugar
100g stoned, chopped dates
3 teaspoons cracked black pepper
50ml dark rum
For the cake
100g self-raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
200g softened butter, plus slightly more for buttering the tin
200g light muscovado sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
50ml dark rum
2 vanilla pods, split lengthways, seeds scraped out
Finely grated zest of 1 lime
For the whipped coconut cream
2 x 160ml tins coconut cream
2 tablespoons caster sugar
For the toffee sauce
100g light muscovado sugar
30ml dark rum
Trim the outside of the pineapple and cut out all of the eyes. Shape the pineapple into a cylinder. Cut into slices; you should get about seven 2cm slices, though you will only need four to five of these. Cut the centre out of each slice with a small ring cutter and use a larger ring cutter to ensure all of the slices are a uniform shape.
Pour the water into a medium saucepan and add the sugar, star anise, bay leaves, vanilla pod and seeds, and cinnamon stick. Warm and stir until the sugar dissolves then bring to the boil. Lower the pineapple rings into the liquid and turn the temperature down to a low simmer. Cook for 15–20 minutes until the pineapple is just tender. Turn the heat off and let the pineapple cool in the liquid.
Lightly butter a 20cm square, solid-bottomed cake tin. Line the base and sides with baking parchment and butter the parchment. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.
Make the topping. With a stand mixer, hand mixer or simply with a wooden spoon, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy. Fold in the dates and cracked black pepper.
Drain the pineapple slices and place them in the cake tin. Spread the topping mixture all over the pineapple. Drizzle on the dark rum.
Next, make the cake. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Using a stand mixer, hand mixer or simply with a wooden spoon, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy. Slowly beat in the sifted flour, eggs, rum and vanilla seeds (reserve the pods for making vanilla sugar or custard).
Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth it down so it’s level. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 10–15 minutes, then turn it out on to a plate, ready for serving.
Whisk together the coconut cream and caster sugar until you have a light and fluffy mixture.
Make the toffee sauce. Put the butter and sugar into a medium saucepan and warm over a medium heat. Stir until the mixture is well combined. Stir in the rum and keep warm.
Sprinkle the lime zest over the cake and serve it with the toffee sauce and the coconut cream on the side.