Different occasions call for different cakes. Some cakes are good, solid general-purpose standards – like a good pound or Bundt cake. Some cakes are perfectly suited to go with coffee, milk or tea. And then you have an entire gamut of party and occasion cakes – wedding, birthday, anniversary, Easter, etc. So when we were getting ready to attend our dear friend Linda’s birthday extravaganza (she celebrates for the entire week surrounding the sacred date), it was clear that we just had to bring a dessert that screamed “par-tay!”
I knew that the women would outnumber the men at this shin-dig, so I chose to make a cake. In my many years of feeding people, I’ve observed that – given the choice – men prefer a piece of pie while women tend to opt for cake. This is a broad generality, and some people love either option (myself included). This cake needed to be special, but honestly, we didn’t have a lot of time.
This cake worked perfectly because as its foundation it uses a box cake mix. While I’ll be the first to go on about the virtues of scratch baking, I have never turned my nose up at using a good cake mix. They are real time savers and, in my experience, can produce wonderfully moist, tender and flavorful cakes. I beefed up the cake mix by substituting the required water with pineapple juice and adding a little extra leaveners.
We also used other convenience items like a can of crushed pineapple in juice and a box of vanilla pudding. But we put some effort into toasting coconut to a perfect brown and using real whipped cream for the topping – this took the cake over the top and really made it special.
This cake was a hit – and was the first one gone. I’m glad the birthday girl had the opportunity to at least get a bite! Bring this cake to your next party – whatever the occasion!
Pineapple Coconut Cake
1 box yellow cake mix (use your favorite brand)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. pineapple extract (optional)
1 20oz can crushed pineapple in juice
1 cup sugar
1 TBSP corn starch
1 3.4oz box instant vanilla pudding
2 cups milk (whole or 2% works best)
I cup coconut
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup toasted coconut
Prepare the cake batter as directed on box – except substitute the required amount of water for pineapple juice. You can also add a teaspoon of pineapple extract if you want, but the cake will still have a nice pineapple flavor just by using the juice. Also add a teaspoon of baking soda and baking powder to the cake mix. Pour batter into a greased 9x13 baking pan. Bake as directed.
While the cake is baking, put the can of crushed pineapple (juice and all), sugar and cornstarch (if desired – this will thicken up the juice a little) in a medium sauce pan and slowly bring to a boil. Remove from burner and allow to cool down a little.
When the cake is done, remove from oven and using a dinner fork, gently poke holes in the surface of the cake. Spread pineapple mixture over the top of the warm cake – the holes you made with the fork will allow some of the pineapple juice to drip into the cake. Let cake cool completely.
After the cake comes out of the oven, and while it is still hot, take one cup of coconut and spread on a baking sheet and put in oven. Toast coconut until light brown – about five minutes. Keep an eye on it! Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Vanilla-Coconut pudding topping
While the cake is cooling, make the vanilla pudding as directed on package. Once mixed, put in refrigerator and allow to firm up and get cold. You are going to spread this on top of the pineapple layer when the cake has cooled completely. Before spreading the pudding over the pineapple, stir in one cup of coconut to the pudding and then put on cake.
Whipped cream frosting
Make sure the whipping cream is cold. Pour into large mixing bowl and add sugar and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer on high speed until firm. Spread whipped cream over pudding layer. Top whipped cream with toasted coconut.
Because of the pudding and whipped cream, this cake should be kept refrigerated until it is ready to serve. Enjoy!