August 5, 2019

Piña Colada Cake

When I was a kid my favorite ice cream flavor of all time was Thrifty's Coconut Pineapple.  Truth be told it's still my number one, even in adulthood.  I'd been meaning to make a cake version of this ice cream flavor and I finally got around to it after being inspired by Baking With Blondie's Mango Coconut cake.  Swap out the mango for pineapple and I present to you my Piña Colada Cake


I used Baking with Blondie's coconut cake recipe and Cook's Illustrated recipes for the pineapple filling and coconut buttercream frosting.  The cake recipe actually uses a Duncan Hines cake mix as its base.  Yes, this is a bit controversial in a world of "from scratch" baking but one that I welcome to be honest.  I grew up eating cakes made from a mix so this brings back a lot of nostalgia for me.   There's nothing wrong with taking shortcuts if it doesn't compromise the taste.

For the filling it was important that it contain fresh pineapple and was sturdy enough to hold up between the cake layers.   Ground instant tapioca did the job of thickening the pureed pineapple while still retaining it's fresh fruit flavor.   As for the frosting I went for an American buttercream which is easier to pull together than Swiss meringue, my normal go to.  To finish the cake off I had to recreate these amazing buttercream pineapples I saw from @makefabulouscakes...are they not the cutest things you've ever seen?

When I had a taste of the finished cake I was blown away by how delicious it was.  The tender coconut infused cake with the fresh pineapple filling is a taste home run!  I will definitely be making this cake again.

Pina Colada Cake

Makes one 6" cake

2/3 cup sour cream, room temperature (I used Fage 5% Greek yogurt)
4 egg whites, room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons coconut emulsion
1 box Duncan Hines white cake mix 

1 tablespoon instant tapioca
1 pineapple, peeled, cored and quartered lengthwise
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup rum
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 sticks (12 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coconut emulsion
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups (12 oz) powdered sugar
Decoration: 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, toasted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Prep three 6" cake rounds with a swipe of shortening and dust of flour. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg whites, buttermilk, sour cream, vanilla extract, coconut emulsion, and vegetable oil until thoroughly combined. Sift in the cake mix, then stir until just combined. Don’t overmix.

Divide evenly between cake layers, spread in an even layer, then place in the preheated oven.  Bake  until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 25-27 minutes.

Remove cake layers from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, flip cakes out of their pans on a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Wrap up in plastic wrap twice and freeze for 3 hours to overnight for easier decorating.

Grind tapioca to fine powder in spice grinder, about 30 seconds. 

Coarsely chop 2 pineapple quarters, then pulse in food processor until coarsely ground, 8 to 10 pulses (you should have about 1½ cups). Slice one of remaining pineapple quarters into 1/8-inch-thick slices and reserve to decorate cake. Transfer ground pineapple to medium saucepan and add granulated sugar, rum, ground tapioca, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Bring to boil over medium heat and cook until thickened, about 4 minutes. Off heat, stir in 2 tablespoons butter until incorporated. Transfer to bowl and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

Using a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip butter, heavy cream, vanilla extract, coconut emulsion, and salt together on medium-high speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.  Reduce mixer speed to medium-low, slowly add sugar, and whip until incorporated and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.  Scrape down bowl with a spatula.

Increase speed to medium-high and whip frosting until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.

Using a cake turntable and cardboard cake rounds (6" cardboard taped to a 8" cardboard round), add on a touch of buttercream in the center of the cardboard round. Place on first cake round. Add on a thin layer of buttercream, then pipe a dam around the outside rim. Add on about ½ cup pineapple filling.

Place on the next cake round and repeat.

Crumb coat cake and chill for 2 minutes in the freezer.

Add on final layer of buttercream (leave enough to pipe the top decoration), then press a 6" round on the top of the cake if rolling the cake in the coconut.

To roll the cake in the coconut, place hands on either side of the cake (there should be a 6" cardboard round on both sides) roll the cake in the toasted coconut. The cake should hold it's shape because it's been frozen and then chilled again with the crumb coat. The coconut should stick because the buttercream was freshly added and should act as glue!

Freeze for 5 minutes, then slice off the top 6" cardboard round.

Decorate top of cake with buttercream pineapples.


  1. For the coconut filling, is there a non alcoholic substitution? The cake looks and sounds delicious and I love the combination of coconut and pineapple and coconut and mango.

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  3. oops i meant the pineapple filling. what can I substitute for rum?

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