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Coconut Layer Cake with Pineapple Curd

May 22, 2012

Otherwise known as ‘The Coconut Cake That Almost Wasn’t’.

If you like piña coladas…

Wait. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Coconut Layer Cake with Pineapple Curd

This cake almost gave me a heart attack. Not the best way to introduce this cake to you, I realize, but it’s true. Don’t worry, there’s a happy ending.

I offered to make my mom a cake for Mother’s Day. And by offered, I mean insisted. She requested a coconut cake. Challenge accepted!

I started baking the cake the day before I planned to take it to her. Things were going great. The individual components all looked and tasted great.

But… somehow things went awry.

Coconut Layer Cake with Pineapple Curd

Curd ran, filling and frosting oozed, and I found myself taking my layer cake apart at 8:00 PM the night before it was to be delivered to my mom.

Not good.

The good news is that after a little regrouping and some small adjustments, the cake came together in no time. I learn these lessons the hard way so that you don’t have to.

Lessons learned: Curd must be thick before it’s used to fill a cake. If it’s pourable, it’s too runny.

Don’t use runny curd. Runny curd ruins cake dreams.

The great news is that, once properly assembled, this coconut cake tastes amazing. Like a tropical vacation.

Coconut Layer Cake with Pineapple Curd

It’s moist and coconut-y and just sweet enough. I find that some coconut cakes don’t really taste like coconut, but this cake does not suffer from that problem at all! It practically overflows with coconut flavor. And then there’s the tangy sweet pineapple curd mixed with more coconut. Plus the satiny, fluffy, sweet meringue frosting. I didn’t want to use a heavy, rich buttercream or cream cheese frosting for this ultra-moist cake and the butter-free meringue worked perfectly.

So if you like piña coladas… you should really make and eat this cake. And maybe get caught in the rain? (Sorry.)

Coconut Layer Cake with Pineapple Curd

Coconut Layer Cake with Pineapple Curd

Makes one 9-inch two-layer cake
Printable Recipe (All components)


2 9-inch coconut cakes
1 cup or more of pineapple curd, chilled
1-2 tablespoons coconut rum (optional)
remaining sweetened cream of coconut (optional)
1/4 cup + 2 cups (or more) sweetened shredded coconut
1 batch meringue frosting

Cake Assembly

Set bottom layer on cake circle.

If desired, add 1-2 tablespoons coconut rum to remaining sweetened coconut cream. Poke cake layer all over with fork, being careful not to go all the way through cake. Gently brush on rum mixture with pastry brush. Allow to soak in for 5 minutes.

Stir a heaping 1/4 cup coconut into chilled pineapple curd.

Pipe frosting around top edge of bottom cake layer. Fill with pineapple curd mixture. Set remaining cake layer (bottom side up) on top. Repeat basting with rum mixture as outlined above, if desired. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Press remaining 2 cups of coconut lightly onto top and sides of cake until covered.

Cake can be stored in a covered container overnight in the fridge. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Coconut Cakes

Makes two 9-inch cakes
Adapted from Bon Appetit

Sweetened cream of coconut (Coco Lòpez) can usually be found in the liquor or drink mixers section of most grocery stores. It’s the same stuff you’d use to make a piña colada. Be sure to stir your Coco Lòpez well before using! It should be a pourable, opaque liquid. If it’s solid you need to stir.


3 cups + 1 tablespoon (13 ounces) cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco Lòpez)*
4 large eggs yolks (whites reserved)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoons coconut extract
1 cup buttermilk

4 (reserved) egg whites
pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 350°F. Liberally spray two 9-inch round cake pans with baking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

With an electric mixer, beat together sugar, butter, and sweetened cream of coconut until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolks (reserve whites), vanilla and coconut extracts. On low speed, mix in dry ingredients then buttermilk until blended. (Batter may look curdled – that’s OK.)

Using a clean bowl and beaters, whip reserved egg whites with a pinch of salt to stiff peaks. Gently fold into cake batter until just combined.

Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. (Tip: weighing them on a kitchen scale can help you be more precise!) Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cake tops may brown.

Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then run knife around the sides and invert cakes onto greased racks to cool completely.

Pineapple Curd

Adapted from Eating Well
Makes approximately 2 1/4 cups

The curd may seem like it’s not thickening as you whisk over heat, but don’t stop – it thickens very quickly right at the end. For a smoother curd, push through a fine mesh strainer before storing. Press plastic wrap against the top of the curd to prevent a film from forming in the fridge.


6 large egg yolks
3 6-ounce cans pineapple juice, (2 1/4 cups)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
5 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch


Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes, whisking constantly, until curd comes to a boil. Continue cooking and stirring for several minutes more until curd thickens enough that a dollop of curd spooned out and dropped back into the pot doesn’t melt back in immediately. Remove from heat and cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Chilled curd thick enough for cake filling should leave holes when spooned out.

Meringue Frosting

Adapted from Cake Journal
Makes enough to frost a 2-layer 9-inch cake


3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large egg whites
2 tablspoons cold water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract


Fill medium saucepan with about an inch of water and bring to a simmer. Place sugar, egg whites, water and lemon juice in the metal bowl of a stand mixer. Set bowl over simmering water and whisk constantly until sugar has dissolved and mixture reads 160-170°F on an instant read thermometer.

Remove from heat and attach bowl to stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat on medium speed until a glossy white meringue with stiff peaks forms and the bowl no longer feels warm to the touch (about 10-15 minutes). Beat in extracts. Frost immediately.

  1. May 23, 2012 7:00 pm

    Everything looks so crave-licious

  2. May 23, 2012 8:47 pm

    What a delightful post! You’ve given me a good laugh as I’ve done the same thing, twice! Beautiful cake and looks perfectly delicious. :)

  3. May 24, 2012 12:37 am

    Good morning!

    I so love your selflessness – I learn these lessons the hard way so you don’t have to… priceless!

    Cake looks good too, even though I don’t like coconut.

  4. May 24, 2012 3:55 am

    Wow, the cake looks delicious! It looks like it’s from a magazine!

  5. Blissfully Vintage permalink
    May 24, 2012 5:07 am

    The cake looks absolutely gorgeous! It’s got to go on my ‘must bake’ list – I have recently tried several curds but not yet tried pineapple – it sounds delicious. The tips and photo’s are great! :)

  6. May 24, 2012 9:06 am

    This is the perfect cake for my boyfriend’s birthday next week!! He loves his pineapples and what’s best, it’s finally summer here in London so pina colada in the form of a cake will be fantastic!! Thanks :)

  7. May 24, 2012 1:05 pm

    The cake looks amazing and yummy. Coconut and pineapple are two of my most favorite foods, if I find the energy and time, I would love to make this!

  8. The Teenage Taste permalink
    May 25, 2012 7:18 am

    Glad that the cake ended up turning out okay! I love the idea of pineapple curd – I’m not one for lemon curd, but pineapple I’d probably love!

  9. May 25, 2012 10:34 am

    AMAZING PHOTOS! Looks so delish! I’m following now! ;D

  10. May 25, 2012 3:30 pm

    I have been craving coconut lately, I love the sound of this recipe. Thanks.

  11. May 28, 2012 1:44 am

    fabulous story, and a great looking cake. I relate to cake disasters for important events having just had it happen to me recently. Unfortunately mine wasn’t as easily saved as yours so well done! :-)

  12. May 28, 2012 10:31 am

    This look’s great. I love coconut and have to try this recipe!

  13. May 29, 2012 9:04 am

    You’re food looks amazing and your pictures!!! Love love love it!

  14. May 29, 2012 4:39 pm

    Coconut cake’s my favorite! Looks marvelous!

  15. May 30, 2012 6:28 pm

    This cake looks so summery and fresh! I am a huge coconut fan. Thanks for sharing!

  16. June 3, 2012 9:28 pm

    This sounds delicous! The fluffy sweetness of the frosting with the tangy yellow filling looks absolutely divine! Although Mother’s Day is long over, I can’t wait to bake this for my coconut and pineapple loving mom too!

  17. June 8, 2012 1:33 pm

    Mmmm this looks so tasty! We are having a Hawaiian Luau party for my mums birthday soon and this cake would be just the right thing. I’ve done coconut cakes before but I absolutely love the idea of a pineapple curd filling, very original! Thank you.

  18. June 12, 2012 7:49 am

    Beautiful cake! I normally use coconut milk in my coconut cake. Does the addition of coconut cream give the cake a dense texture?

    • The Craving Chronicles permalink*
      June 12, 2012 8:08 am

      It’s not too dense, but it’s not the lightest airiest cake I’ve ever had either. I guess you could say it’s somewhere in between :) I would describe it as a moist yellow cake. I would not recommend subbing coconut milk for the sweetened cream of coconut in this cake. The cream of coconut adds intense coconut flavor and extra sweetness that you just don’t get from the coconut milk. Hope that helps!

  19. June 26, 2012 10:38 am

    This looks fantastic for summer! I am the WORST cake froster, I might need to use this recipe to “practice”. :)

  20. June 30, 2012 9:58 am

    I noticed that this curd recipe is slightly different than the one you posted in 2010. Does the additional corn starch help it firm up more to be between layers of cake? Would the curd need that if it weren’t being used for that purpose?

    • The Craving Chronicles permalink*
      June 30, 2012 10:05 am

      Good question Sacha! I did add a little more cornstarch for the cake version to help it firm up and support the heavy cake layers. If you’re not going to use it as a cake filling, the original 2010 recipe should be just fine. Just make sure you cook it until it thickens well. Last time I made it I didn’t cook it long enough and the curd separated in the fridge.

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