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. 

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
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.
Pineapple Filling:
1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
In a saucepan combine all ingredients over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently until mixture gets a glossy look. Set aside to cool.
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
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, 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.
This is best when refrigerated for at least four hours.


  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 looks absolutely amazing, I'm sort of jealous that there's a picture of it and not an actual piece sitting on my lap :)

  3. amazing cake !! I love piña colada!!! delicious! gloria

  4. 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

  5. Okay, I'm trying this. I know I asked you to figure out the recipe for the Plate and Palates Coconut cake, but this looks amazing!

    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.

  6. You had me at Pina! This looks amazing :)

  7. Hi

    Where did you get the recipe for this cake.

  8. Jackie, This recipe was printed in the Deseret News (SLC newspaper) Food section October 2011.

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

    1. Anon, I used canned coconut milk found in the Asian section of the grocery.

  10. 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!

  11. Thank you for this recipe, i made the cake and my family love it ..
    it was a hit.

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. Made this for Easter. It was un-freaking-believeable!!!!

    1. Melissa,
      Glad you loved this cake. It's one of my all time favorites!

  15. 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!

  16. 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 :)

  17. 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!


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