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Cake & Cheesecake | October 22, 2011

2011 Utah State Fair Winner: Pina Colada Cake

2011 Utah State Fair Winner: Pina Colada Cake

2011 Utah State Fair Winner: Pina Colada Cake
This recipe won the “King Arthur Flour Great Cake Contest” in the Utah State Fair last month.
I made it last weekend. It was absolutely delicious! Coconut cake is one of my favorites. Combine it with pineapple filling? Oh goodness. I’m still thinking about it. We loved it. I know you will too.

5 from 2 votes

Pina Colada Cake

Lisa Blodgett



  • 2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 5 egg whites

Pineapple Filling:

  • 1 20- ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch


  • 1 8- ounce package cream cheese softened
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 16- ounce container whipped topping or 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped


  1. Mix flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl and set aside. Place the butter in a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed with a mixer for 1 minute. Add sugar and beat for another minute. Add coconut milk and coconut extract to butter mixture. Gradually add flour mixture into the butter mixture and beat for 2 minutes. In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Grease and line two 8-inch cake pans and divide batter evenly between them. Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 23-28 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the pans from the oven and place on a cooling rack for 5-10 minutes to cool before removing cake from the pans.

For the Pineapple Filling:

  1. In a saucepan combine all ingredients over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently until mixture gets a glossy look. Set aside to cool.

For the Frosting:

  1. Beat cream cheese in a bowl until smooth. Add coconut milk, powdered sugar and coconut extract. Mix well and then fold the whipped topping or cream into the mixture.

To Assemble:

  1. Cut both cakes open, making four 8-inch rounds. On top of one, place half the pineapple filling and top with a cake layer. Next add a layer of frosting, then a cake layer. Place remaining pineapple mixture on the cake and top with the last cake layer. Frost the sides and top of the cake. Sprinkle with coconut.
  2. This is best when refrigerated for at least four hours.

44 thoughts on “2011 Utah State Fair Winner: Pina Colada Cake

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Recipe Rating

  1. WOW!!! This is such a beautiful cake. I make one with lemon filling and what a nice change the pinapple would be. This one is bookmarked for the next birthday!!! Love your new header photos.

  2. This is a must make. I hope you know I just made a HUGE chocolate cake of yours (the one that Jack ate) from Braden's birthday and it was a hit even though my bottom layer was really crumbly

    1. Karen, I tried the Plates and Palates cake recently. It was delicious, but a little on the heavy side for me! It tastes very similar to the Barefoot Contessa recipe for coconut cupcakes.

  3. What kind of "coconut milk" is it? Canned, Sweetened Canned (Coco Lopez), or coconut milk from the dairy/milk aisle? Thanks!

  4. I made this about a month ago and it was fabulous! I was wondering about the frosting though. I used whipping cream and when I added it to the mixture, it ended up really soft and not stiff enough to use as frosting. I did it anyway, hoping it would firm up when refrigerated. It did slightly, but definitely not enough. Wondering if you have any tips? I plan on making it again this week, but was hoping to figure out the frosting before I do.

    1. Hi Flo,

      I agree with you, the frosting is really delicious, but a bit on the soft side. You could do a couple of things that would firm up the frosting:
      1. Leave out half of the whipping cream, and see how it turns out. I think the flavor is wonderful, but using 1 1/2 cups of whipped cream makes the texture of the frosting very loose.
      2. Substitute this frosting for the one used in this coconut cake. It is much more firm and will withstand having to sit out on a counter at a party or other gatherings.

    2. Thank you, Si! I really appreciate the response. Do you recommend using the alternate recipe for the inside of the cake as well, or just as frosting?

    3. The cakes are totally different as far as texture goes. This cake is made from scratch, no box. It is a true home made cake. Because it is home made, it is not quite as sturdy as the other cake. I love both, but if I have the time, this one wins. The other is a great cake and will travel better because it more firm after baking. Either one is a great choice!

  5. I made this cake last night and it was delicious! I agree with Flo, the frosting was pretty runny even after I reduced the cream like your tip suggested. Maybe the next time I make it I will try the other coconut cake frosting with a little coconut milk added for flavor. YUM!

  6. This looks wonderful! I am hoping to make it for Easter lunch, but I have lots of other dishes to be preparing that morning, too (along with getting to church!). Is there anything that can be prepared ahead of time, with the same great results? Any idea if the cake would be as nice if it was in the fridge overnight (instead of just 4 hours)?

    1. Monica, Sorry to be so late in responding. I am sure you figured out by now, this cake does store well in the fridge. I have made it the night before with great results!

  7. This is REALLY good cake! I love the coconut flavor and the texture — it's different from any other coconut cake I've made. The frosting is also really delicious, which is crazy considering I think 90% of cake frostings are sickly sweet, and I normally don't like cream cheese in my frosting. The only change I made is dicing up some fresh pineapple and replacing some of the canned with it.

    This is going to be a staple in my house. My boyfriend ate this entire cake in 2 days, which is insane for him since he's not a big dessert eater. I am making one right now just because he hasn't stopped begging me since I made it on Mother's Day 🙂

    Thank you for this recipe!

  8. Wow! Thanks for the feedback on this cake. I love to hear when a reader makes one of the recipes on ABK, and love it even more when I hear a less than enthusiastic dessert fan asks for more!
    Love that you tried the fresh pineapple too. I wondered if that would work. Thanks!
    Happy Baking 🙂

  9. The recipe didn't instruct properly how to prepare frosting when using whipping cream instead of container whipped cream. It's an art in itself! Whip cream in a bowl with mixer, fold in the sugar until it's light and fluffy then add in the other ingredients. I'm going to make this for my birthday tonight, based on your comments, I will be careful and maybe consider adding a package of unflavored gelatin or pudding to thicken. I have a great recipe packed away in storage somewhere if I ever find it I'll share here. For now, I'm glad I found this one!

    1. regarding whipped cream: be sure your cream, beaters and bowl are very very cold before you start. I stick mine in the freezer until I am ready to whip. I have also put my metal bowl down into a larger bowl of ice cubes.

      Remember when it comes to whipping things:

      C = Cold for Cream
      W = Warm for Whites (egg whites)

  10. I made this cake for the second time. When I checked it at 26 minutes, it had overflowed the pans and was still wet in the center. I cooked it another 10-12 minutes until it had cooked through, but it had fallen in the center. I followed the recipe exactly and greased and floured both my pans and liners. What did I do wrong? HELP!!!

  11. I just had a thought, I took my butter out of the freezer and defrosted it in the microwave a little too long so some of it had melted. Could that have affected the reason my cake fell?

  12. I feel like such an idiot! I made the cake again after I realized that I had forgotten to add the egg whites! The second cake turned out beautifully and I used the frosting from Nan's Yummy Coconut cake. It was perfect!!! Problem solved 🙂

  13. Have you ever tried to make cupcakes with this recipe? My sister is getting married, and instead of having a big cake, we are making 3 or 4 different types of cupcakes, and she LOVES coconut!


    1. Hi Carolyn,
      I have not tried to make cupcakes with this particular recipe. While this is one of my all time favorite recipes, and for a from scratch cake, you will be hard pressed to find a cake that is more delicious, I would use the recipe on ABK for Nan’s Coconut Cake if I were to make cupcakes for a wedding. It has amazing coconut flavor and is very simple. The cake is also a bit more sturdy, but still extremely moist. Take a look at that recipe! thanks for reading ABK, and if you make the cupcakes, share them on social media please!

  14. This is was amazing! My dad loves coconut and pineapple treats. For his 60th birthday party, I decided to make this for him. Everyone who tried it loved it. It’s super moist and simply delicious. This recipe is definitely a keeper. Thanks!

  15. I just saw this recipe. For the frosting could you use, dare I say, cool whip or dream whip powder to stiffen it?

    1. Hi Stacie, I would not recommend cool whip, but maybe the dream whip would stiffen the frosting bit? Let us know if you try it!

    2. there is an alternative frosting which is sort of a cheater but really good and holds up well: Take a package of instant pudding (whatever flavor you want) and make it with 1/2 the normal amount of milk. When it is softly set, whip it up a bit with mixer then fold in whipped cream or Cool Whip if you want to use it. Ready to spread! Not too sweet or rich and very nice on this cake. I like French Vanilla pudding mix.

      Another alternative frosting is called Ermine. There are recipes all over Pinterest for it. Cook a cup of milk with 1/2 cup of flour until smooth. Place saran wrap directly on the mixture to keep it from forming a skin, and cool thoroughly. When ready to make frosting, whip the flour/milk mixture with 1 cup of granulated sugar in your mixer then start adding cold butter to it a few small pieces at a time. It will look perfectly horrible at first just keep whipping it. Like magic, it suddenly comes together and is a beautiful, very white frosting. I put some vanilla extract in with the flour/milk mix when I start whipping it. I’m doing this from ‘memory’ but if you search in Pinterest for “Ermine” frosting you will find it easily with the correct quantities. . It is a type of buttercream and is very light and not overly sweet at all. You can make a chocolate version by adding cocoa to the flour and milk mixture or by melting chocolate and beating it in with the sugar.
      Ermine is the original frosting for Red Velvet Cake!!! I like it better than the cream cheese!!

    1. Hi Jackie,
      The pineapple does not need to be drained, when it is cooked with the other filling ingredients it will thicken up!

  16. 5 stars
    Made this today for my grandparent’s wedding anniversary. It was next level deliciousness!! Everyone loved it! Some of the reader comments said their frosting was a little runny, but mine wasn’t at all. Maybe their cream cheese was too soft? Anyways, it was a decent amount of work, but so worth it.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe, Sarah, this is one of my all-time favorite cakes! Thank you for sharing and for reading ABK,

  17. 5 stars
    My 16 year old daughter asks for this cake every year on her birthday! She loves it so much that she usually jumps in and ends up doing most of the work herself with only a little help from me. So delicious and always a winner for special occasions!