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