Garage Sale People are weird. You know the ones who get up at dawn every Saturday to go out in search of “treasures”? Or the ones who will root through your stuff on the porch even though the sale is obviously over? OR the ones who pay you in pennies?! Really.
Well yesterday I got to meet all those people at the sale John and I had to get rid of some things before the big move. Although I’m grateful that these people came and paid us good money for our crappy stuff, Garage Sale People creep me out. They always smell funny, and I’m pretty sure most of them are hoarders, which scares me a little and gives John the willies.
Like the garage sale, this cake takes some planning and a few days work, but the rewards are totally worth it. I made this about a month ago for John’s dad’s birthday, and it was a big hit. I really enjoy fruity flavors during the summer, and sometimes it can be hard to come up with a birthday cake that doesn’t involve chocolate. This one is great especially if you have a crowd that likes coconut and boozy desserts.
If you have leftovers I would encourage people to take slices home with them because they get even better after a few days because the pineapple filling and rum will really soak into the cake layers.
Piña Colada Cake
adapted from Sky High Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes
Brown Sugar Cake
- 3 3/4 cups cake flour
- 1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
- 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
- 5 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter 3 9-inch cake pans and line each with a round of parchment. Butter the parchment.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl; whisk gently to combine. Add the brown sugar, butter, and 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk. With the mixer on low, blend to incorporate. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
- Whisk the eggs with the remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk and the vanilla and add to the batter in 3 additions scraping down sides of bowl and beating only enough to incorporate each addition. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared pans. Smooth tops if needed.
- Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then turn out onto wire racks. Peel off paper liners and allow to cool completely before assembling the cake.
Notes: I almost always bake the cakes the day before the cake is needed and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap when cooled. You can also make them farther in advance and freeze them. Frozen cake layers can be easier to trim and pick up for assembling. I got most of my layer cake tips from here.
- 1 (20 oz) can of crushed pineapple (no sugar added)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 one-inch piece of vanilla bean, split in half
- Combine pineapple, sugar and lime juice and a large non-reactive skillet. Scrape vanilla seeds from bean and add the seeds and beans pieces to the pineapple mixture. Warm over medium-low heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.
- Raise heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until juices have almost completely evaporated and the pineapple has a jam like consistency. Remove from heat and discard vanilla bean. Cool completely before using. (This can also be made a day ahead and kept in refrigerator.)
- 3 egg whites
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 1/2 (10 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract
- Put the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitter with whisk attachment so they are ready to go when needed.
- Combine the sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan and place over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and cook, without stirring until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, 238° F on a candy thermometer.
- While the sugar is cooking, beat the egg whites at medium speed until soft peaks form. Slowly add the hot syrup in a thin stream, being careful to avoid the whisk. Continue to whip until the meringue has cooled to body temperature.
- With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the butter, several tablespoons at a time, and continue to beat until a smooth fluffy frosting forms.
- Add the coconut milk in several additions, scraping down sides of bowl after each addition. Add the coconut extract and mix until smooth.
Notes: This was my first attempt and an Italian meringue style buttercream and it was a little stressful. You basically need the sugar syrup and egg whites to be ready at the same time. My method was to get the egg whites going when the sugar boiled and when the whites were ready (and the sugar wasn’t to temperature yet) I reduced the mixer to low to keep the whites moving and prevent them from deflating. Also for some reason I had pretty big chunks of hardened sugar at the bottom of the bowl and in the buttercream but fortunately they weren’t noticeable when the cake was assembled.
Assembling the Cake
- 2/3 cup black spiced rum
- Coconut flakes (toasted) and pineapple slices for garnish
- Trim cake layers so they are even. Place one layer, flat side up on a cake stand lined with strips of parchment paper. Brush/sprinkle with some rum.
- Spread half the pineapple filling leaving 1/4 inch margin around edge. Add second cake layer and repeat rum and pineapple filling steps. Top with the third layer and sprinkle with remaining rum. Frost tops and sides of cake with the Coconut Buttercream. Decorate with coconut flakes and pineapple slices.
Notes: I trimmed a lot off my cakes mainly because they came out very uneven and I prefer a higher filling to cake ratio (the cakes were pretty thick). I also had some leftover whipped cream from another dessert so I added some rum to that and put it on top of the pineapple filling in the middle two layers. I highly recommend doing this.
Phew, that’s a big cake with a lot of steps.