I get really excited every time a relative or friend has a birthday cake because, aside from the fact that birthdays are great occasions to celebrate, they present an opportunity for me to try out a new cake recipe.  I have SO many ideas and recipes I would like to try, I usually become very overwhelmed in even beginning to narrow down the options.  So, for my (not so) little brother Steven’s birthday last week, I asked him for some help.  Chocolate or fruit?  He chose fruit.  Berry vs. tropical?  He chose tropical.  And, the answer was clear.  I made these pina colada cupcakes months ago and have been anxious to try them in the form of a layer cake.  It was definitely a success!  The pretty yellow frosting, shredded coconut and fresh fruit garnish made a visually appealing cake that tasted every bit as good as it looked.  Steven and the whole family really enjoyed this one.  I can’t believe my “baby” brother is 20!!!!  Eek!  Happy birthday, Steven – we love you!

Pina Colada Cake


For the cake:

3 ½ cups cake flour, sifted

4 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

16 tbsp. unsalted butter

2 cups sugar

1 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ tsp. coconut extract

8 egg whites

2/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut (optional)


For the frosting:

1 cup fresh pineapple chunks

12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

18 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

yellow food coloring (optional)


For decoration:

shredded sweetened coconut

fresh pineapple wedges

fresh strawberries



Preheat oven to 350°.  Line the bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper, and grease and flour the sides.


In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on high speed until creamy, about 30 seconds.  Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue beating, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, until light and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes.


Reduce the speed to low and fold in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour, until just blended.  Stir in the vanilla and coconut extract.  Transfer batter to a large mixing bowl and stir in the shredded coconut.  Thoroughly clean and dry the bowl of the electric mixer.


In the mixer bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Using a rubber spatula, fold ½ cup of the egg whites into the batter until smooth, then carefully fold in the remaining whites until smooth and blended.  Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. 


Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.  Remove the cakes from the pans and allow to cool on the rack to room temperature.


To make the frosting, puree pineapple in the food processor until smooth.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes.  Add powdered sugar and mix until smooth.  Add pureed pineapple until frosting achieves the desired pineapple flavor (approximately ¾ cup of puree).  Add yellow food coloring to achieve a brighter color, if desired.  If frosting is too liquid, allow to chill in the refrigerator 30 minutes before using to set up.   


To assemble the cake, place one of the cake layers on a cardboard cake circle.  Top with a layer of pineapple frosting.  Top with remaining cake layer.  Frost sides and top of cake with remaining frosting.  Garnish with shredded coconut, fresh strawberries and/or pineapple wedges, as desired.

Source: adapted from Annie’s Eats

  • Annie, that looks so incredibly delicious! I can’t wait to give this recipe a try!

  • You ALWAYS make the most BEAUTIFUL cakes! This is so pretty!!

  • This looks delicious- what a great twist on coconut cake!

  • I love the drink; I bet the cake is awesome!

  • The way you decorated the top of your cake is absolutely precious! I’m in love! :)

  • Kathryn

    This looks soooo tasty!! I never thought to make such yummy flavors into a cake! Oh… I made your Apple Pie Cupcakes a few weeks ago. They were delicious!! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Beautiful! I bet it is delicious!

  • “…they present an opportunity for me to try out a new cake recipe…”

    i feel exactly the same way! in fact, i plan to add this one to my list–awesome. :)

  • of my favorite drinks made into a cake!!! Sounds like heaven to me. Your cake is beautiful and lookes incredibly yummy.

  • Melissa

    I loved the Pina Colada cupcakes, I am sure this cake was amazing! Happy Birthday to your brother!

  • Gracious! That sounds dreamy! Thanks for this one!

  • I am sure the cake is amazing! I love the fruit on top!

  • wow! looks tasty!

  • This sounds incredible, but where’s the rum?

  • I actually have a big pineapple in the house that needs using up, but I would never have thought of using it this way!

  • This is a beautiful cake!

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  • i’ve bookmarked this recipe since i first saw it but haven’t had a chance to make it yet. I’ll be making it tonight for a party tomorrow and i hope it turns out as good as yours! i’m excited! i love your cakes…and everything else you do!

  • Vanessa

    Hello Annie,

    This cake looks delicious and I plan on making it this weekend along with the cupcakes for some added decoration. What do you think about substituting the vanilla extract with rum extract in the cake or adding some rum extract to the frosting?

    Thanks so much Annie. Have an awesome day!!

  • Annie

    That sounds great. You could also brush the cake layers with straight rum to keep them moist. That would work well too.

  • Vanessa

    Thanks so much annie.

  • Annie, I want to make this cake and frost it one day prior to a party and store overnight in the fridge. Will it stay well? or should I frost it the same day?

  • Annie

    That’s fine.

  • Ama

    Hi Annie, Want to make this for my husband, do you have any version with Chocolate? He loves both coconut AND CHOCOLATE AND i’D LIKE TO DO A MIX

  • Annie

    No, I don’t have anything like that but you could just be creative and come up with a coconut-chocolate combo.

  • Heidi

    I just had this cake the other day….ABSOLUTELY amazing!

  • effie

    if i dont have coconut extract can i swap 1 cup milk for 1 cup coconut milk?

  • annieseats

    Please see the FAQ page regarding substitutions. Thanks.

  • Yasmin

    Annie, can I do this with 4 eggs instead of 8 egg whites? Is there a specific reason for using only egg whites?

  • annieseats

    The recipe will not function the same using whole eggs rather than egg whites. You need to use egg whites, or use a different cake recipe. Whole eggs will not whip to meringue, which is used to lighten the cake batter in this particular recipe. Hope that helps!

  • Yasmin

    Oh ..I was planning separate the eggs, and add the yolks at the start..but you are right, better to pick another recipe :) I thought of using your lemon cake, as that uses whole eggs. I’ve tried the vanilla bean frosting, and it was amazing. I just wondered if the cake would taste good as a vanilla cake too. It seems like a good base cake.

  • Yasmin

    I should learn to read extensively, before posting queries !! I see that the lemon cake is modified from your vanilla bean cupcake, so it will obviously work as a vanilla cake.