Pineapple Coconut CakeFFOL Editor 1
Adapted from our reader-favorite white cake, this pineapple coconut cake is supremely moist and pillow soft with extra coconut packed in each bite. Homemade pineapple curd adds another layer of sweet tropical flavor inside the cake. The cake is made with canned coconut milk, shredded coconut, pineapple juice, and pineapple chunks, a delightful combination promising big flavor.
This Pineapple Coconut Cake Features:
- Supremely moist and ultra fluffy pineapple coconut cake with flakes/shreds of coconut and sweet chunks of pineapple
- Homemade pineapple curd filling
- Smooth & luscious cream cheese frosting
- Flaky coconut around the exterior
Plus, there’s a few other ways to make this cake including as a sheet cake, 2 layer cake, cupcakes, etc. See details above the recipe. However you bake or serve it, this pineapple coconut cake would be wonderful for Easter dessert or any spring or summer celebration!
Pineapple Coconut Cake Details
I adapted this cake batter from my white cake recipe. The white cake is a very popular cake recipe on the site, both a personal and reader favorite. There’s no surprises there– between its pristine crumb, fluffy texture, and stick-to-your-fork moisture, it’s impossible not to love. It’s my gold standard when it comes to soft cakes, so I’ve used it to produce many other flavors including pistachio cake, burnt sugar caramel cake, coconut cake, strawberry cake, and today’s pineapple coconut cake. Here’s what you can expect:
- Texture: The most notable aspect of this cake is its texture. We have an incredible balance of soft, springy, and moist. The coconut inside the cake adds that stick-to-your-fork moisture, too. You’ll only achieve this texture perfection if you follow the recipe closely and this includes using real cake flour, only egg whites (no yolks in the batter), and sour cream. Note that I slightly reduced the egg whites and sugar in this cake recipe compared to the base white cake. This is because pineapple is so wet and sweet.
- Flavor: Who knew a cake could taste like vacation? Juicy pineapple and coconut add bright, tropical flavors to each slice. The cream cheese frosting adds a little tang to each bite, which helps offset the sweetness of the pineapple curd inside. If you aren’t a fan of coconut, you may enjoy this pineapple upside down cake instead.
- Ease: If you’ve baked layer cakes before, this shouldn’t be difficult. If you’re new to layer cakes, don’t get nervous. Stacking and frosting is pretty simple as long as you let the cake layers cool completely. Take your time with each step; it’s worth the effort.
- Time: Set aside at least 5 hours to complete this cake recipe which includes making the pineapple curd and cake, cooling both completely, and frosting the cake.
Simply put, this cake exceeded our expectations. It’s truly one of the best cakes I know how to make!
5 Success Tips for the Best Pineapple Coconut Cake
- Use real cake flour, only egg whites, and full fat sour cream. I have instructions for making a cake flour substitute from all-purpose flour and cornstarch, but for best taste and texture, I urge you to use real cake flour in this recipe and not the substitute. Sift the cake flour before measuring. 4 egg whites promise the fluffiest crumb. Save 2 of the yolks for the pineapple curd. Full fat sour cream guarantee a tender, moist crumb.
- Use the correct coconut milk. A majority of the liquid in this cake batter is canned coconut milk. Canned coconut milk is a cooking ingredient, not a beverage. It’s almost always unsweetened and is creamier and thicker than regular milk. It’s usually found near the Thai food products. Do not use refrigerated carton coconut milk because the two are very different.
- Add coconut extract. Like when I was testing my coconut cake recipe, I found this cake lacked coconut flavor without a little coconut extract. The cake is still delicious without it, but if you can find coconut extract, definitely use it.
- Pulse the coconut into finer pieces. Use sweetened shredded coconut because it’s moister than unsweetened and that makes a big difference in a cake’s texture. (I reduced the added sugar in the cake batter to make up for the sweetness.) Sweetened coconut is sometimes sold as long skinny shreds, a size some find off-putting in cake. Therefore, I recommend pulsing the coconut in a food processor or giving it a rough chop to break down the pieces.
- Ensure all ingredients are room temperature. All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the cake batter mixes together easily and evenly. Simply put, cold ingredients won’t properly combine to produce a smooth, light cake crumb.
The Extras: Pineapple Curd & Cream Cheese Frosting
Fill the this pineapple coconut cake with homemade pineapple curd and cream cheese frosting. (Just like how we fill lemon coconut cake with lemon curd.) The cream cheese frosting is also used on the exterior of the cake, too.
- Pineapple Curd: I adapted the pineapple curd recipe from my lemon curd. I reduced the sugar since pineapple juice is so sweet and since sugar helps curd thicken, I added a little cornstarch to make up some of the difference. The curd has exceptional pineapple flavor, but it’s very sweet like apple butter, pumpkin butter, or jam. One crucial note for the pineapple curd– do NOT use fresh pineapple juice. Bromelain, an enzyme in fresh pineapple, prohibits curd from thickening appropriately. Your curd will be thin and it will separate, something I learned while experimenting. You must use canned pineapple juice, usually labeled as 100% pineapple juice. (The enzyme is no longer present after canning, so you’re good to go!)
- Cream Cheese Frosting: This cream cheese frosting recipe was *just enough* for thin layers between the cakes and around the exterior. I added a little liquid so it’s extra smooth and spreadable– you can use either pineapple juice or canned coconut milk for the liquid.
A Crumb Coat is Best
Since it’s so moist and filled with shredded coconut, the cake can be a little crumbly. I recommend applying a VERY thin crumb coat, which is a layer of frosting around the exterior of the cake to catch any crumbs. The cake is pretty slippery from the curd, so take your time assembling and frosting it. The frosting recipe below includes enough frosting for that thin crumb coat, then another thin layer of frosting on top of that.
Here’s the pineapple curd, frosting, and cake assembly in photos:
Other Cakes & Cake Sizes
- 9×13 Inch Cake: Simply pour the batter into a greased and lightly floured 9×13 inch pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- 2 Layer Cake: Prepare two 9-inch cake pans in step 1. Divide batter between pans and bake for 25-28 minutes or until cooked through.
- Bundt Cake: This cake batter will fit into a greased 10-cup or larger bundt pan. I’m unsure of the exact bake time (likely around an hour), but use a toothpick to test for doneness. Same oven temperature. Feel free to frost with cream cheese frosting (half the frosting recipe should be enough) and serve slices with a spoonful of pineapple curd.
- Cupcakes: Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for 19-21 minutes. Yields about 2-3 dozen. Feel free to core out some of the baked and cooled cupcake and fill with pineapple curd.
- Piña Colada Cake: I haven’t tested this recipe with the addition of rum to yield a piña colada cake. However, rum would definitely work in the frosting. Use 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of your favorite rum to replace the coconut milk/pineapple juice and vanilla extract.
- Pineapple Cake (no coconut): Follow the recipe below but substitute whole milk for the canned coconut milk, leave out the coconut extract and shredded coconut, then increase pineapple chunks in the cake batter to 1 and 1/2 cups. Use pineapple juice as the liquid in the frosting and skip the coconut garnish.
This pineapple coconut cake includes pineapple chunks, coconut, coconut milk, plus homemade pineapple curd and cream cheese frosting. Each bite is packed with moist texture and irresistible flavor. Review the recipe notes before beginning. To save time, feel free to make the pineapple curd first. It must cool completely before you use it in the cake’s assembly.
- 2 and 1/2 cups (285g) sifted cake flour* (spoon & leveled)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks; 170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
- 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (120g) sour cream, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1 cup (240ml) canned coconut milk, at room temperature*
- 2 Tablespoons (30ml) pineapple juice (canned or fresh)
- 1 cup (80g) sweetened shredded coconut
- 1 cup (225g) pineapple chunks (canned and drained or use fresh), plus extra for garnish
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/3 cup (80ml) canned pineapple juice (must be canned)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons; 60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cut into 4 pieces
- 8 ounces (224g) full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 cups (360g) confectioners’ sugar, plus an extra 1/4 cup (30g) if needed
- 2 Tablespoons canned coconut milk or pineapple juice (your choice)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- optional for garnish: fresh or canned pineapple chunks and/or 1 cup (80g) sweetened shredded coconut
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease three 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans.
- Make the cake: Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
- Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the egg whites until combined, then add the sour cream, vanilla extract, and coconut extract. Beat until combined. Mixture will look curdled as a result of the varying textures and solid butter combining. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients, coconut milk, and pineapple juice. Beat on low speed until combined, then beat in the shredded coconut and pineapple chunks just until combined. Whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no butter lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick.
- Pour batter evenly into cake pans. Bake for around 22-24 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. (Make the curd as the cakes cool.) The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
- Make the pineapple curd: Fill the bottom pot of a double boiler with 1-2 inches of water. (Or use the DIY double boiler method listed in the notes.) Place on high heat. Once the water begins to boil, reduce to low heat to keep the water at a simmer. Whisk the egg, egg yolks, granulated sugar, cornstarch, pineapple juice, and salt together the top pot of your double boiler. Continue to whisk as the curd cooks because constant whisking prevents the egg yolks from curdling. Whisk and cook until the mixture becomes slightly thick, resembling the texture of hollandaise sauce, about 10 minutes. If curd isn’t thickening, turn up the heat and keep whisking. Remove pan from heat. Whisk in the butter. The butter will melt from the heat of the curd. Pour curd into a jar or bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top so it is touching the top of the curd. (This prevents a skin from forming on top.) Cool completely. The curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Once cool, the plastic wrap can be removed. Makes 1 cup. You will have leftover curd after using in the cake. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 1 week. (Great on sourdough, biscuits, or toast!)
- Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, coconut milk or pineapple juice, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. If you want the frosting a little thicker, add the extra 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar (I usually add it).
- Assemble and decorate: If your cakes are domed on top, use a large serrated knife to slice a thin layer off the tops to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand, cake turntable, or serving plate. I use and recommend an icing spatula to apply the frosting & curd. Evenly spread a scant 1/2 cup of frosting on top. Spread 1/4 cup of pineapple curd on top of the frosting. Top with 2nd cake layer and evenly cover the top with 1/2 cup of frosting, then 1/4 cup of curd. Carefully place the third cake layer on top. The cake is very slippery due to the frosting and curd, so be careful with it. I highly recommend a crumb coat for this cake, so spread a very very thin layer of frosting on top and all around the exterior of the cake. A bench scraper is helpful to smooth the sides. Refrigerate crumb-coated cake for 30-60 minutes– again, this is a slippery cake so refrigeration is very helpful. Remove cake from the refrigerator and spread the remaining frosting all over the cake. (Which should only be a small amount at this point.) Decorate with pineapple chunks on top of the cake and/or press coconut gently into the sides of the cake.
- Refrigerate cake for at least 20 minutes before slicing. This helps the cake hold its shape when cutting, though it’s still a pretty fluffy cake.
- Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can make the pineapple curd ahead of time. After it cools completely, cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week. The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Likewise, the frosting can be prepared then covered and refrigerated overnight. When ready to decorate, let the frosting sit at room temperature to slightly soften for 15 minutes, then give it one more mix with the mixer on medium speed for about 1 minute before frosting cake. Frosted cake or unfrosted cake layers can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before decorating/serving.
- Cake Flour: For the best results, I strongly recommend sifted cake flour. Sift before measuring. You can find cake flour in the baking aisle and I have many more recipes using it. If you’re in a pinch, you can use a DIY cake flour substitute but the cake won’t taste as light and soft.
- Egg Whites: Egg whites (no yolks) are KEY to the cake’s fluffy texture. Save 2 egg yolks for the pineapple curd.
- Canned Coconut Milk: Canned coconut milk is a cooking ingredient, not a beverage. It is usually unsweetened, so make sure you’re using unsweetened. It’s usually found near the Thai food products. Do not use refrigerated carton coconut milk. You need 1 cup for the cake, not the entire can. You can use 2 more Tablespoons in the frosting if desired. There will be a little leftover in the can. Coconut milk separates, so make sure you either shake up the can before opening or, after opening the can, whisk the liquid and coconut cream together to yield the thick coconut milk you need in this recipe.
- Sweetened Shredded Coconut: I recommend using sweetened shredded coconut. It’s moister than unsweetened coconut and that makes a big difference in the cake’s texture. If desired, pulse the coconut shreds in a food processor or chop them up so they aren’t as long inside and outside of the cake. Chopping the coconut is optional.
- Pineapple Chunks: If using canned pineapple chunks, purchase a can labeled with “chunks” or “tidbits.” You can save the liquid you drain to use in the cake. (There likely won’t be enough for the curd though.) Do not use crushed pineapple, which is too liquid and thin. If using fresh pineapple, cut chunks into bite-size pieces.
- Double Boiler Alternative for Curd: If you do not own a double boiler, you can simply place a small heatproof glass bowl over a saucepan– you will cook the curd in the top pot/bowl.
- Pineapple Juice: You can use fresh or canned pineapple juice in the cake batter and frosting recipes. However, in order for the pineapple curd to thicken, you must use canned juice in the curd. See blog post above for details. Since you need canned juice for the curd, it may just be easiest to use canned juice in the batter and frosting, too.
- Cream Cheese: Use block cream cheese, not cream cheese spread. If desired, you can use this vanilla buttercream instead of cream cheese frosting. If you follow that frosting recipe, you can use canned coconut milk instead of the whole milk/heavy cream OR 3 Tablespoons pineapple juice and 2 Tablespoons coconut milk instead of whole milk/heavy cream.
- Amount of Cake Batter: This recipe yields nearly 8 cups of batter, which is helpful if you need it for different Cake Pan Sizes & Conversions. See box above the recipe for different cake pan options.