Coconut Pineapple Cake

Coconut Pineapple CakeAbout two years ago, an acquaintance called and asked me to make a Coconut Pineapple Cake for his birthday party.Coconut Pineapple Cake
In retrospect, I should have asked more questions. In our brief phone call, there was no mention of whether it should be layered or in a bundt or flipped upside down, just that it should be full of tropical flavor and generally resemble a cake.Coconut Pineapple Cake
Instead of doing the logical thing and calling to clarify, I just tried to channel my grandmother and go with my gut.Coconut Pineapple CakeCoconut Pineapple Cake
My gut said to flavor my favorite vanilla cake with coconut, layer it with pineapple filling, coat it in coconut buttercream, and decorate the crap out of it with sweetened flaked coconut. And so I did.Coconut Pineapple Cake
To this day, I have no idea if this is what my acquaintance had in mind when he made his initial order. Not a clue.Coconut Pineapple Cake
What I do know, though, is that he loved it.Coconut Pineapple Cake
I can say that with confidence because he has consistently ordered a Coconut Pineapple Cake every two months since, just because he has a craving.Coconut Pineapple Cake
That may sound a little ridiculous—ordering a whole layer cake for yourself just to fulfill a craving—but if you try this cake, it might suddenly seem very logical.Coconut Pineapple Cake

Coconut Pineapple Cake
makes 1 9-inch round layer cake

Cake Batter:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons coconut extract
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature

Pineapple Filling:
16 ounces canned crushed pineapple in juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 pound confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract
4 tablespoons heavy cream
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Cake layers and pineapple filling may be made up to a day in advance.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla and coconut extracts. Add dry ingredients and buttermilk in two alternating installments, combining completely after each addition.

Divide batter among prepared pans. Tap pans on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake cakes 32-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cake layers cool in the pans for fifteen minutes before inverting onto a rack to cool completely.

Make pineapple filling. Combine crushed pineapple in juice, sugar, and cornstarch in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until juices are clear and mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Let cool to room temperature, or place in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Slice each cake layer in half equatorially (this is called torteing). Place one half-layer on a serving plate and top with about 2/3 cup of pineapple filling. Repeat layering until you have 4 thin layers of cake and 3 layers of pineapple filling. Tent cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Mix in confectioner’s sugar and salt, followed by vanilla and coconut extracts. Add heavy cream and beat frosting for one minute, or until fluffy. Use an offset knife to frost cake. Press sweetened flaked coconut onto the frosted surface of the cake.

Serve immediately. Leftover cake will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Coconut Pineapple Cake

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