Oh hey y’all. It’s me. Lynn. Yes, I still exist and am aware of the existence of this blog. I’m the worst I know, I haven’t posted to this blog in months. YES months. How.embarrassing. I could go on and on with excuses about where I have been but the truth is, sometimes life just gets in the way. I’ve had a lot of changes going on in my professional life, and some things in my personal life as well (mostly good, *cough cough* I went to London), but basically it’s just a problem that I need to figure out how to address. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you, it’s just that when I get home from work, all I want to do is lay on the couch and relax… it’s pathetic really. Honestly, I’ve also been surviving off of things I can make in bulk or ahead of time, like this chili, and this pizza, and things I can make on the cheap (like the two things I just mentioned). Cooking had started becoming a chore, and I just wasn’t enjoying it, so I took a break. Motivation was hard. It was difficult to come up with a reason to slave in the kitchen just for a recipe and some pictures. But then my motivation arrived to get back in there…
My best friend for the last 14 years got engaged! I was over the moon. I actually cried when she called me. I was so overwhelmed with happiness that I just couldn’t hold back the tears. She was SO happy and I just couldn’t help but feel her happiness through the phone. We shopped for a wedding dress a few weeks later and she found the ONE! We’ve been wedding planning like MAD and having the best time ever doing it. And her wedding is like a year away. We are just amazing planners who do everything in advance. She has her venue and bridal party all picked out (and did I mention the dress!!) So when the time came for her engagement party, I jumped at an opportunity to make her cake.
But what KIND of cake? There are the typical vanilla, chocolate, red velvet varieties of course… but those just didn’t seem special enough for her. Plus we were going to the lake to go hang out on a boat all day and I didn’t think people would want to spend hours out in the hot sun and then come back to a heavy chocolate cake. So I did what any reasonable food blogger / best friend would do… I consulted my bookshelf of cookbooks, in search of a cake that would be exactly (or almost exactly) what I was looking for. And then I found it. Pina Colada Cake. It was perfect. Light and flavorful, screams “it’s time to party” and hellooooo “If you like Pina Coladas!!! And getting caught in the rain da da da” Amazing. This was the ONE.
I ran to Harris Teeter to get the ingredients and could hardly wait to get started. I made the cake layers in advance and froze them for a day, because that’s what I usually do when I know I will be short on time. HOWEVER, let me tell y’all, be really careful when you do this because I didn’t let them thaw enough and when I went to level the layers, the serrated (SHUN, read= crazy sharp) knife slipped out from the layer and hit me right in the index finger, making a huge gash that didn’t heal for THREE WEEKS! It also means that I made the filling of the cake, the icing, and assembled the cake one handed (read=I’m a total bad ass). Now I know what it feels like to literally cook with one hand behind my back.
Ok ok, enough talk… Here’s how you make the cake!
Pina Colada Cake (barely adapted from Sky High Cakes)
For the cake (brown sugar cake):
3 3/4 cups cake flour
1 3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar (secret time: I only had like 1.5 cups of brown sugar so used regular sugar, and it all turned out fine!)
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 3/4 buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
For the filling:
1 can crushed pineapple in juice
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 vanilla bean, scraped
For the icing:
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 lb powdered sugar
2 tsp. rum extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup rum (dark or light, it’s up to you!)
Coconut shavings to decorate(I honestly don’t know how much I used, maybe a half cup…all I know is I bought a bag of it and had tonssss left over)
Preheat oven to 350 and butter three 9-in pans.
Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Place them in the bowl of your mixer (or a regular bowl if you are planning to use a hand mixer), and whisk to combine (just until combined, not too much).
Add in the brown sugar and 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk to the bowl.
Mix slowly on low to incorporate.
Increase your speed to medium and then beat approximately 2-3 minutes until fluffy (it took me a bit longer, at least 4 mins)
Whisk in the eggs and the remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk and vanilla. Add this mixture to the batter in 3 separate additions, beating only to incorporate and scraping the bowl sides before adding the next addition.
Divide the batter between the pans and bake for 25-28 minutes, or until a toothpick or fork can come out clean.
Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes before taking them out of the pans to fully cool. Allow them to cool completely before freezing, if you choose to do that. If you don’t freeze the layers, I would recommend cooling them in the fridge a bit just to harden them up a bit, because it will make it easier to level the layers.
In a large pan over medium-low heat, combine the pineapple, sugar, and lime juice.
Using the tip of a paring knife, slit open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Mix in the seeds, then add the pod of the bean (just for cooking, this will not go into your cake).
The next three photos show this process:
The mixture should be of a jam-like consistency and there should be no liquid left. Take out the vanilla bean and remove from heat. Let the mixture cool completely before using it in the cake. You can actually make this a day ahead and refrigerate but let it reach room temperature before using it either way.
In the bowl of your mixer, whip the butter with the sugar. I have found the best way to do this is to start by whipping the butter and then adding the sugar in batches. Then once everything was mixed well, I add in the extracts. This buttercream recipe is actually my favorite, and wasn’t the one I was supposed to use to make this cake. It was supposed to be this fabulous icing made with coconut milk and egg whites but I don’t know where I went wrong but the texture was just so off, I couldn’t bear using it. So I went with my own icing that I knew I could whip up in like 2 minutes. The rum was really the only addition that is not in my typical buttercream. I didn’t need coconut because it was already in the cake and I was planning to use the coconut shavings to decorate anyway, and I’m making a pina colada cake not a coconut cake
Place one of the cake layers on your plate or cake stand, smooth side down, and level the first layer.
Drizzle about 3 tablespoons of rum over the layer (I was very generous with this…it WAS a party!!)
Scoop half of the pineapple filling onto the cake layer and spread until about 1/2 inch remains around the edge.
Level the remaining two layers.
Place the next layer on top, flat side down again, drizzle about 3 tablespoons of rum over the layer (again, I was very generous with this!) and place the remaining half of the pineapple filling on this layer and spread to the edge, leaving about 1/2 inch.
Place the final layer on top, leveled side down/flat part up), and then start icing.
I love doing a crumb coat, as I find it makes it infinitely easier to make the cake look smooth (although that’s not AS important here because you will be covering it up for the most part). By crumb coat, I mean spreading a thin(ish) layer of icing all over the cake (top and sides) and then put it in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes. Then you can ice it using the remaining buttercream and it should be much easier. I then took the coconut shavings and spread it all along the sides. You could even do it on the top if you feel so inclined, or even use toasted shavings or toast them yourself, but I did not think it was necessary (plus I only had one hand remember?)
I used a micro-sized grater and zested the lime, spreading the zest randomly over the top of the cake
I then sliced the same lime as thinly as I could. I thought this made it look cooler because the edges of the lime were all different and they didn’t all have a perfect edge, which I think makes it look more interesting. I then used the lime slices and made a circle around the edge of the top and placed some quarter slices in the middle (see picture below).
Well everyone seemed to love it. Some people even had it for breakfast the next morning! And you know what? I loved it, and I don’t even LIKE coconut. Like at all. I don’t even really like pina coladas… but this cake was perfect for the occasion and was fantastically delicious. I highly recommend it for any summer festivity that you can have an excuse to make a cake for. Just go ahead and do it. You will be happy you did.
BUT, on the off chance you are still looking for a cake idea to make for the 4th of July, here is the tutorial for making an American Flag Cake (complete with video by moi!)