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Pina Colada Coconut Cake

February 16, 2012

Last week, I tried my hand at making my first ever Coconut Cake. According to my coworkers and my own preference, it was a success.

What I really wanted though was a Pina Colada Coconut Cake. Using the Coconut Cake as my starting point, I made a few tweaks. Added some rum and pineapple, tested my work as I went along, added some more rum, tested my work again, added a little bit of pineapple juice and a splash more of rum, tested it again and thought, “Well, by golly, this might be a winner!”

That could’ve been the rum talking, but I prefer to think of it as me channeling Julia Child in some fashion.

Baby slice of Pina Colada Coconut Cake - Rum makes it better!

Whatever the case may be, the Pina Colada Coconut Cake was a success. How do I know? My toughest, no holds barred critics told me so.

I took this cake home to my parents. Two of the few people who rarely bother to sugarcoat their commentary if they don’t like something I’ve made. And if they do sugarcoat their commentary, it tastes like Equal or Sweet N Low, and I know they’re lying to spare my feelings.

This time, my Mom and Dranny were genuinely complimentary of my baking efforts. In fact, they liked it so much that I was lucky to get to bring any back home with me after my visit. I might not have fought them for it, but I thought about it for a moment or two.

Luckily, it didn’t come to that and I’ve been enjoying little slices of Pina Colada Coconut Cake for breakfast (it has fruit in it!), an afternoon snack with coffee (it was a rainy, dreary afternoon!) and dessert (hello, it’s cake!). So clearly this is a well-rounded, all-occasions sort of recipe. ;)

If you’d like to try it for yourself, then here’s the recipe. The result should be a rich cake that tastes like a really good Pina Colada, not one of those fake pre-mixed drinks.

Pina Colada Coconut Cake

(adapted from Nancie McDermott’s recipe for Classic Coconut Cake in Southern Cakes)

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut juice
2 teaspoons rum
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Farenheit.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl; mixing them together well with a fork. Set aside.

Mix coconut milk, coconut juice and rum together. Set aside.

In your mixing bowl, beat the butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time. Add vanilla. Scraping down the sides as necessary throughout.

Alternating the flour mixture and the coconut and rum mixture, add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the mixing bowl. Add coconut and rum mixture. Add remaining flour mixture. Mix. Add remaining coconut and rum mixture. Beating throughout on low to medium speed until all ingredients are combined. This will be a thicker batter than some cakes.

Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Fill each pan with half of the cake batter.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cakes just begins to pull away from the side of the pans just slightly.

Cool in pans for 5 minutes or so. Remove from pans and transfer to cooling racks.

Pina Colada Filling
(my own recipe)

3/4 to 1 cup fresh pineapple, finely chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated, sweetened coconut flakes
pineapple juice to taste

Put finely chopped pineapple in a measuring glass. Cover with enough rum to reach the one cup mark or so. Dump into a medium mixing bowl. Add shredded coconut. Mix. Add a splash or two of pineapple juice to your taste preference. The goal is to create a pina colada flavor for the filling. If necessary (or just because you like it), add more rum, pineapple , rum or coconut. The end result should be a pina colada mash though, not a sauce.

Let sit while the cake bakes and then cools. Just don’t sample too much or else you’ll have to make more for the cake.

(my own recipe adapted from Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book’s recipes for Cream Cheese Frosting)

8 ounces neufchatel cheese or cream cheese, softened (the neufchatel is my nod to healthy)
1 stick butter (1/2 cup), softened
1 2-pound bag powered sugar (there goes the healthy)
3 to 4 teaspoons coconut milk
3 to 4 teaspoons rum
shredded coconut

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter together until well combined and getting fluffy. Add in powered sugar 1 cup at a time or at whatever pace prevents it from flying all over your kitchen while mixing it. Add enough coconut milk and rum to give your frosting a smooth, light, fluffy frosting texture. Beat on high to make fluffier.

If you add too much rum or coconut milk, add a little more powered sugar. And if it seems too stiff, add a little more rum and/or coconut milk.

Place one cake on your serving plate. Frost the top of the cake with about 1 to 1 1/2 cups frosting. Top the frosting with the Pina Colada Filling. Add second layer. Frost top and sides with remaining frosting. If Pina Colada Filling escapes from the middle, just work it into the frosting. No harm there, just more Pina Colada goodness in more places.

Cover the entire cake with shredded coconut. Pat coconut flakes into the cake gently to cover all the bare spots.

If possible, let the cake sit overnight to allow the filling to be absorbed into the frosting and cake layers, and the flavors to meld.

Slice. Serve. Enjoy!!!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Cookery For Two permalink
    February 16, 2012 7:46 am

    Oooo this looks so tasty – Great recipe for tropical BBQ’s in the summer – thanks so much for sharing!

    ~ Cookery for Two

  2. February 16, 2012 8:12 am

    I have been wanting to make a pina colada cake! I’ll have to try this recipe out!!

  3. February 20, 2012 1:43 pm

    Pina colada in cake form sounds like perfection. And, I’d keep tasting the rum too, just to be sure. ;)

  4. Kate permalink
    July 26, 2012 10:03 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your from-scratch recipe. It’s so hard finding drink inspired cake recipes that don’t start with a box mix!! This is genuine all the way through and I can’t wait to make it for my friend’s bachelorette party. Always love to hear when a recipe has been personally fine-tuned and critic approved. I’ll be sure to add my results : )

  5. Kate permalink
    July 29, 2012 6:14 pm

    This recipe came out great! I made it for my friend’s bachelorette party and she absolutely loved it. The coconut cake is rich and moist. I did adapt a different pineapple filling using a custard-like approach but being careful not to puree it thru because I did like the idea of a crushed/mashed texture for the fruit. I think since the cake wasn’t a traditional white cake it held up very well to the filling. I tweaked the frosting a bit reducing the cream cheese in half as I prefer a less cheesey taste so always use a 2:1 butter to cream cheese ratio. I will say the cream cheese helps stabilize the frosting and enables me to decorate more. I subbed immitation rum extract for the real deal just in the frosting because I feel true alcohol is difficult for flavoring and you need a concentrated extract especially in frostings. I also added a splash of coconut extract in the frosting. Last but not least I decided to forgo the grated coconut in the frosting only because I was doing pipe-work on the cake and needed a smooth consistency. I know it sounds like I modified a lot but the end result was the perfect combination of pina colada for me. I am very grateful to have had this recipe as a starting point. For me something always ends up getting modified along the way to suite my taste. But I’m not still not at the level to create my own recipes so I appreciate all the bloggers out there for sharing.


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