Guests will toast you with this Pina Colada Cake

-A A +A

Real food for real people

By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Editor

Have you ever  had a craving that you couldn’t explain where it came from?

It happened to me last week. 

I was sitting at my desk and out of the blue I got the strongest urge for pineapple cake. Not pineapple upside down cake. Pineapple cake. Cake with little juicy morsels of pineapple mixed throughout.

And then I thought, “Wow, wouldn’t some Cool Whip on a pineapple cake be to die for?”

All week, I contemplated the weekend and how I would bake that cake and enjoy it.

But by the  time the weekend rolled around, my craving had expanded to include coconut.

Pineapple, coconut–what more could a person asked for? That’s when I began the quest for a Pina Colada Cake–and boy, there’s a bunch of them out there.

I pored over cookbooks, cooking websites and Facebook searching for one that would satisfy my yearning.

When at last I found it, I took stock of my cupboard and was delighted to learn I had all the ingredients and didn’t have to buy a thing.

Sunday, I set out to make this sweet, summery confection and when it was finally done and sliced, I knew I had found a keeper.

Warning: Because of the time it takes to make this cake from start to finish–about 2 ½ hours– it will be a “special occasion only” cake.


Pina Colada Cake

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Yield: a three layer 6” cake, two layer 8” or 9” cake or 24 cupcakes



For Pineapple Cake

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1 3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup sour cream (any fat content)

1 1/2 cups canned crushed pineapple (drained slightly)

For Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

8 oz. (1 block) cream cheese (directly from fridge)

4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1- 1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract

1 Tablespoon heavy cream, or dark rum


Instructions For Cake

Prepare your cake pans by lining the bottoms with parchment or wax paper, and greasing and lightly flouring the sides. Preheat oven to 350° F.

Stir (with a whisk) flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar on medium speed until slightly thickened and a light cream color (about 2 minutes).

Continue mixing on low speed, and add the oil and vanilla.

Add in the sour cream and pineapple and mix until fully incorporated.

Add the flour mixture and blend just until combined and smooth.

Pour batter into the prepared pans, dividing the batter between the pans as evenly as possible.

Bake until the cakes have a slight dome, are golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs. Approximate bake times are 22 minutes for cupcakes, 35-40 minutes for 6” cakes (divided into three pans), 30-35 minutes for 8 or 9 inch pans.

Allow cakes to cool in pans 15-30 minutes, then remove from pans, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze cakes about 30 minutes. This will help the cakes be firm enough to cut and level, and be easier to stack.

For Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

In the bowl of an eclectic mixer, beat butter until fully smooth.

Add cream cheese, and beat until smooth and fully combined.

Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Add vanilla extract and coconut extract after adding 1 or 2 cups of sugar.

While mixing, slowly add heavy cream or dark rum

Continue to beat an additional 30 seconds or so until nice and fluffy.

Use frosting at once, or keep refrigerated. In warm weather, or if your butter and cream cheese were warm, you may need to put the frosting in the refrigerator up to 30 minutes to help it firm up, especially if you plan to pipe it on cupcakes.

To Assemble

Once the cakes have chilled in the freezer (as directed above), use a large serrated knife to level the cakes as needed. (I actually have one of those serrated cake level gadgets and split my 9-inch layers in two to make a four layer cake.) 

Layer the cakes with a layer of the Coconut Cream Cheese frosting between each layer. Spread a thin layer of icing around the sides and top of the cake (known as a “crumb coat”). This layer of icing does not need to be perfect, and it’s OK if it has a few crumbs in it.

Place entire (thinly frosted cake) in the freezer for 15-30 minutes, or until the cake and icing are firm. Remove cake from freezer and spread a final layer of frosting all over the cake.

If desired, coat the sides of the cake with toasted coconut. To toast coconut, spread about 2 cups of coconut onto a baking sheet and bake at 350*F. for 5-7 minutes, checking every minute or so after the first 3 minutes and stirring to evenly toast.

Decorate cake with fresh pineapple or maraschino cherries.