Pineapple Coconut Cake

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This Pineapple Coconut Cake recipe is a real show stopper. Made with moist coconut cake, pineapple curd filling, and luscious coconut buttercream frosting, this cake will be the talk of your summer parties.

pineapple coconut cake garnished with pineapple flowers

I never really liked coconut cake as a kid. Or coconut for that matter. But, as an adult, I adore all things coconut. Funny how our tastes change over the years.

Today’s coconut cake has a pineapple curd filling and it’s like a taste of the tropics.

The best thing is the coconut flavor doesn’t taste artificial. I hate biting into a coconut baked good and it tastes like a tanning booth. You know what I’m talking about.

While there is a touch of coconut extract in both the cake and the frosting, it’s not so much that it overpowers the cake. Most of the coconut flavor comes from the coconut cream.

Why this pineapple coconut cake recipe works

  • The cake is light and spongy! It’s so soft and isn’t overloaded with shredded coconut.
  • Coconut cream is used for a silky texture and luscious flavor. It’s in both the cake and the frosting.
  • The recipe makes a 3 layer 8-inch cake. I have not tested the bake time for 2 9-inch layers. You’ll have to be the judge of that if you wish to make it that way.
  • The frosting is my very popular coconut buttercream and I’ve used coconut cream along with coconut extract for flavor.
slice of pineapple coconut cake on a serving spatula

Pineapple Coconut Cake Ingredients

I’ve made this cake in the past but I’m updating it with a few changes. The first is the use of coconut cream in the cake batter. The second is the amount of shredded coconut added to the batter. Let’s go over this in detail.

  • Butter & oil: A combination of butter and oil is used for flavor and moisture. I found that a little bit of oil really keeps the cake super moist.
  • Eggs: You’ll need to separate the eggs. The yolks and whites are added in two different stages of the recipe.
  • Sugar: Granulated sugar for a little sweetener. I cut back the amount of sugar since the filling and frosting are pretty sweet.
  • Vanilla & coconut extracts: Only a teaspoon of each is used for a hint of flavor.
  • Cake flour: Please, please, please don’t try to use anything other than cake flour. While homemade cake flour can be an alternative, it’s not going to give you the same results.
  • Leavening: Baking powder and baking soda are used to give the cake rise
  • Salt: To balance the flavors.
  • Coconut cream: This will give the cake most of its coconut flavor.
  • Buttermilk: Also adds moisture.
  • Shredded sweetened coconut: I use about 1 cup in the cake.
  • Pineapple curd: You’ll need 1 batch of my curd.
  • Coconut Buttercream: You’ll need 1 batch of frosting.

How to make Pineapple Coconut Cake

This recipe is the best I’ve had so far. It requires whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks and folding them into the cake batter, much like my white cake recipe. The only difference is the coconut cake also uses the egg yolks.

The Batter – The batter is thick and lush. I prefer cake batters that look like mousse. I feel these batters bake up the best and yield a sturdy cake that’s also moist and tender.

The Filling – The filling is nothing more than my pineapple curd. You’ll need the full recipe in order to fill the cake.

The Frosting – The frosting is my favorite coconut buttercream. It’s truly the best ever. Shredded coconut is pressed into the frosting at the end of assembling the cake.

close up of pineapple flowers on pineapple coconut cake

Step 1: Gather the ingredients and preheat the oven

It is essential to make sure the cold ingredients are at room temperature before you begin. They will blend together easier this way.

Set the butter, eggs, and buttermilk out on the counter 1 hour before you plan to make the cake. Measure out all the other ingredients and have them ready to use.

Prepare your stand mixer with the paddle attachment or handheld mixer with beaters. Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper. Preheat the oven about 30 minutes before you begin making the batter.

Step 2: Whip the egg whites

The egg whites must be at room temperature for them to whip to full volume. If you are in a hurry, you can set the whole eggs inside a bowl of warm water for about 5-10 minutes.

Use a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a handheld electric mixer and beat the egg whites with cream of tartar on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Set the whites aside while you prepare the rest of the batter.

whipped egg whites

Step 3: Cream the butter, oil, and sugar together

Make sure the butter is softened to room temperature. You should have had is sitting out for about an hour.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter, oil, and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy.

The longer you let it mix the better. I say a good 5 minutes is an adequate amount of time for it to reach a light and fluffy stage.

creamed butter, oil, and sugar in a glass bowl

Step 4: Add the egg yolks, coconut cream, buttermilk, and extracts

Add the egg yolks one at a time and mix well after each addition.

Add the coconut cream and mix until it’s fully incorporated.

Add the buttermilk, coconut extract, and vanilla extract. Continue to beat until well combined.

process shots of egg yolks and wet ingredients mixed into batter

Step 5: Add the dry ingredients

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and stir with a whisk so that it is very well combined.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat just until no visible streaks of dry flour remain. Take care not to over mix because you’ll be mixing the batter more in the next step.

coconut cake batter in mixing bowl

Step 6: Add the shredded coconut and egg whites

Add the shredded coconut to the batter and use a rubber spatula to fold it into the batter.

It’s Add ⅓ of the beaten egg whites and fold them into the batter until well incorporated.

Gently fold the remaining egg whites into the batter until no visible streaks remain.

process shots for adding coconut and egg whites to cake batter

Step 7: Bake the cake layers

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Use an offset spatula to spread the batter all the way to the edges in a smooth, even layer.

Bake the cake layers for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

coconut cake in pan

Step: 8 Assemble the cake

You’ll need pineapple curd and coconut buttercream to assemble the cake.

Place one of the cake layers on a serving platter, bottom side up. Pipe a border of coconut frosting around the edge of the cake. This is to contain the curd so it doesn’t squish out.

Fill inside the frosting ring with half of the pineapple curd. Spread it evenly all the way until it meets the frosting border.

process shots assembling pineapple coconut cake

Top with a second cake layer, top side up. Pipe another border of frosting and fill it with the remaining pineapple curd.

Place the third cake layer on top with the bottom side up. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. It doesn’t have to be super neat but try to get the frosting as evenly as possible.

Press shredded sweetened coconut into the frosting all over the cake. Brush away the excess that lands on the serving platter.

process shots for frosting pineapple coconut cake

Garnish with dried pineapple flowers.

How to make dried pineapple flowers

Dried pineapple flowers are a pain in the rear! Honestly. It took me a couple tries to get them right and I was so annoyed that I didn’t get process shots for you.

There are a few tutorials online that will help you get started. I used this one as a guide for mine.

dried pineapple flowers on a cooling rack

I will say, don’t try to cut the pineapples with a knife. It’s near impossible to get them thin enough. My husband even tried because he thought he could get them thinner than I could.

If they are not paper-thin, they will take ages to dry out. And they won’t hold shape once you mold them.

After our failed attempt, I went and purchased a mandoline that was large enough to slice a pineapple.

Set the blade on the 3mm setting and you’ll be able to get super thin slices.

If you end up with a lot of leftover pineapple flowers, you can use them to garnish this pineapple cake by Olivia. It’s reminiscent of the very popular Dole Whip from Disneyland.

She also lists some great tips for making the pineapple flowers so head over to check it out.


Tips for making pineapple coconut cake

  1. Make sure to use cake flour! The cake will be softer, moist, and come out best with cake flour.
  2. Properly measure the flour. Don’t scoop the flour directly out of the bag with the measuring cup. Since flour compacts, this method will add too much flour to the recipe.
  3. Use the right pans. I love aluminum pans. They allow the cake to climb the sides so it rises nicely.
  4. Use bake-even strips. These will help the cake layers bake evenly and they’ll come out lighter in color.

If you like this pineapple coconut cake recipe, you might also enjoy these other pineapple and coconut treats:

Pineapple Coconut Cake

4.51 from 57 votes
slice of pineapple coconut cake on a serving spatula
This Pineapple Coconut Cake recipe is a real show stopper. Made with moist coconut cake, pineapple curd filling, and luscious coconut buttercream frosting, this cake will be the talk of your summer parties.
Jen Sobjack
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Serving Size 14

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 5 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (114 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ¼ cups (270 g) cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (240 ml) canned coconut cream
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 cup (90 g) shredded sweetened coconut

For the frosting

  • 1 ½ cups (334 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 cups (600 g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 3-6 tablespoons canned coconut cream
  • 1 ½ cups pineapple curd
  • 14 ounce (396 g) bag shredded sweetened coconut
  • dried pineapple flowers

Instructions

Make the curd

  • Make the pineapple curd according to the recipe instructions.

Make the cake

  • In a large bowl, add the egg whites and cream of tartar. Use clean beaters and beat on medium speed until stiff peaks form.
  • Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and lightly flour 3 8-inch round cake pans. Place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom or each pan and set them aside. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat the sugar, butter, and oil together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  • Beat in the coconut cream followed by the buttermilk, coconut extract, and vanilla extract.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir with a whisk and add it to the butter mixture. Beat just until no visible streaks of dry flour remain.
  • Use a silicone spatula and fold in the shredded coconut. Fold ⅓ of the egg whites into the batter until well incorporated. Gently fold the remaining egg whites into the batter until no streaks remain.
  • Divide the batter even between the prepared pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

Make the frosting

  • Using a handheld mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes.
  • Add 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar, beat on medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened. Gradually add in the remaining sugar, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stop to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add the salt, coconut extract, and the coconut cream, one tablespoon at a time, beating on medium speed until fully incorporated. You may need more or less coconut cream depending on how soft the butter is.
  • Turn the speed up to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed.

Assemble the cake

  • Place one of the cake layers on a serving plate, bottom side up. Pipe a border of frosting around the outer edge of the cake. Spread half the pineapple curd inside the frosting ring, spreading it all the way up against the frosting.
  • Top with another cake layer, top side up. Pipe another frosting boarder and fill it with the remaining curd.
  • Place the final cake layer over the top, bottom side up.
  • Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Gently press the shredded coconut into the frosting on top and sides of cake. Garnish with pineapple flowers, if using

Notes

  • You must use cake flour for this recipe. You can use my homemade cake flour but it will not yield the same result as the real one.
  • I used this tutorial for making pineapple flowers. I also used this mandoline because it is wider than most and will be large enough to slice the pineapple. Set the blade to 3mm for the slice width.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 893kcal | Carbohydrates: 118g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 46g | Saturated Fat: 29g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 129mg | Sodium: 210mg | Potassium: 198mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 99g | Vitamin A: 903IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1mg

The nutrition information provided is for convenience and as a courtesy only. It is not guaranteed to be accurate because nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator and input the exact ingredients and brands you used in the recipe.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

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Recipe Rating




58 Comments

  1. Thanks for this recipe… confused by coconut cream. Is that same as coconut milk used in Asian cooking or the sweetened canned product used for pina colada. Also if coconut milk and cream are different can u substitute milk for the cream. Thanks in advance

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      Coconut milk and coconut cream are different but can be found in the same aisle at the grocery store. Coconut cream is much thicker and richer than coconut milk. Cream of coconut (used for mixed drinks) is not the same as coconut cream. Since coconut milk and coconut cream are different, I don’t recommend substituting them.

  2. Have I left a review already? I’m not a reviewer, typically, but… I. Love. This. Cake.

    I have made it probably a dozen times in all different sizes, different #s of layers, cupcakes, etc. I don’t change a thing (except to scale up to size) and its always perfect. Filling? Perfect. Frosting? Perfect. Rave reviews. I never thought I’d love a non-chocolate cake recipe so much.

    (As I type this I am eating coconut cake scraps from a communion cake I’m making for a friend’s son…)

    So….
    Can you suggest a chocolate filling for this cake? I’m thinking “Mounds bar” vibes….

    Thanks for another great recipe!!

  3. Flora Nava says:

    Do the measurements change if I want to do a two layer if so how? I’ve been dying to make this today

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      You should be able to bake this in two 9-inch round pans with changes to the measurements. You will need to adjust the bake time slightly.

  4. 5 stars
    This was my first time making a catch from scratch but I decided to give it a try for my boyfriends birthday. I was so nervous when it was time to cut the cake but it came out great! The coconut taste is very light and the cake was very moist. I used 3 9inch pans because I didn’t have 8inch. All I did was increase the oven temp by 25 degrees and decrease the cook time by a quarter and it was great. Loved this cake.

  5. Sebastian says:

    Thanks Jen! This cake was big hit! Love your curd recipe too!!! I’m making it again.

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      This is such a great cake. I’m thrilled you enjoyed it.

  6. James Abbott says:

    OK…Please tell me why whenever I use “Cake Flour” the resulting cake is heavy and is dense but structurally weak. I always sift the flour before I measure it. I bake per the recipe in a newer 30″ convection oven. I am going to try Jen’s pineapple coconut cake today, but based on my 6 previous attempts from recipes here I am not encouraged. PS…I baked professionally 40 years ago but stayed away from cakes and pastries. I know my way around a stand mixer and a proof box. Help!

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      Cake flour will yield a tighter crumb that’s more delicate than all-purpose. The cake shouldn’t be heavier but because the crumb is so tight, the result is dense. It should still be soft though. The majority of my cakes call for cake flour and I have never had one come out structurally weak. They stack well and are great for carving. I’m unsure of the recipes you’ve used in the past, but maybe there’s an error in the recipe. There could also be errors in measuring ingredients, the temperature of ingredients, mixing methods, etc. It’s really hard to say. I suggest reading over my article on how to make the perfect cake. There are a ton of great tips that will guide you to cake success.

      1. James Abbott says:

        I followed your advice to sift prior to measuring and then sifted once more. That seems to make a big difference. Thanks for all your help. Jim – ENFJ (Extravert)

      2. Jen Sobjack says:

        Happy to hear it worked out!

  7. I made an adorable pineapple cake for a friend who loves pineapple with this recipe. The coconut buttercream was to die for. Loved it all!

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      That’s fabulous news! Thanks for sharing such wonderful feedback.

  8. Hello, I can I add about 1/3 cup of pineapples into the batter?

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      I think that should be fine.

  9. Gloria Brown says:

    Can I use vegetable oil instead of canola oil.

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      You certainly can.