Southern Pineapple Cake


Everyday Culinary Delights 👩‍🍳


Southern Pineapple Cake is more than just a dessert; it’s a journey into the heart of Southern hospitality and culinary tradition. This moist and flavorful cake, studded with pecans and coconut, and soaked with the tropical essence of pineapple, embodies the warmth and generosity of the South. Its origins, while not precisely documented, are deeply rooted in the region’s history, where fruits like pineapple were celebrated for their rarity and sweetness. Today, it stands as a testament to the creativity and resourcefulness of Southern cooks, who have long been adept at turning simple ingredients into extraordinary treats.

The appeal of Southern Pineapple Cake lies in its simplicity and the joy it brings to both the baker and those who get to enjoy it. Whether it’s served at a family gathering, a holiday feast, or as a comforting dessert after a meal, it never fails to impress. The cake’s moist texture, combined with the crunch of pecans and the sweetness of coconut, creates a delightful experience with every bite. Moreover, its easy-to-follow recipe means that anyone can bring this slice of Southern delight into their home, regardless of their baking skills.

For those interested in exploring more about the culinary traditions of the South, the history of Southern cuisine offers fascinating insights into how regional dishes like the Southern Pineapple Cake have evolved. Meanwhile, for baking enthusiasts looking to perfect their craft, discovering new cake decoration ideas can add an extra layer of beauty and personalization to this already stunning dessert. As we delve deeper into the recipe and preparation of this beloved cake, remember that each ingredient and step in the process is a building block to creating a masterpiece that’s both a joy to make and a delight to savor.

Ingredients Breakdown

The Southern Pineapple Cake is renowned for its rich flavors and moist texture, a result of its carefully selected ingredients. Each component plays a crucial role in creating the cake’s signature taste and texture. Here’s a closer look at the key ingredients:

  • All-purpose flour: The foundation of the cake, providing structure.
  • Sugar: Adds sweetness and, when creamed with eggs, contributes to the cake’s lightness.
  • Baking soda: Acts as a leavening agent, ensuring the cake rises properly.
  • Eggs: Bind the ingredients together and add moisture.
  • Vanilla: Enhances the flavor complexity of the cake.
  • Crushed pineapple (with juice): The star ingredient, pineapple not only infuses the cake with moisture but also imparts a tangy, tropical flavor that is unmistakably delicious. The inclusion of the juice is crucial for achieving the moist texture that this cake is famous for.

Understanding the importance of each ingredient helps in appreciating the complexity and balance of flavors in the Southern Pineapple Cake. Whether you’re a seasoned baker or new to the kitchen, recognizing the role of these ingredients is key to mastering this delicious dessert. For those looking to explore further, learning about pineapple cultivation can provide insight into the tropical flair that pineapple brings to the recipe, making every slice a celebration of taste and tradition.

Step-by-Step Baking Guide

Baking a Southern Pineapple Cake is a delightful experience that combines simplicity with the joy of creating something truly special. Here’s a detailed guide to ensure your cake turns out perfectly moist and flavorful every time:

  1. Preparation: Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease or spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish to prevent sticking.
  2. Mix Dry Ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 2 cups of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. This ensures the baking soda is evenly distributed throughout the flour, which is crucial for an even rise.
  3. Add Wet Ingredients: To the dry mixture, add 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and the entire 20 oz can of Dole crushed pineapple (with juice). The juice from the pineapple is key to the cake’s moist texture.
  4. Combine: Mix the ingredients until well combined. You don’t need a mixer for this; a wooden spoon will do just fine. The batter will be quite thick, which is normal for this type of cake.
  5. Bake: Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The golden-brown top should be springy to the touch.
  6. Prepare the Topping: While the cake is baking, prepare the topping. In a medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup butter, 2/3 cup evaporated milk, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Then, reduce the heat and stir in 1 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts and 1 cup of coconut flakes. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens slightly.
  7. Finish the Cake: Once the cake is baked, remove it from the oven and immediately poke holes all over the top using a wooden chopstick or the tines of a fork. This allows the topping to seep into the cake, adding to its moistness. Pour the warm topping over the cake, spreading it evenly.
  8. Cool and Serve: Allow the cake to cool completely before serving. This waiting period lets the cake absorb the topping thoroughly, enhancing its flavors and moisture.

Topping and Decoration

The topping and decoration of a Southern Pineapple Cake are not just finishing touches; they are integral elements that elevate the cake from simply delicious to truly memorable. Here’s how to perfect the topping and explore creative decoration ideas:

Perfecting the Topping

The creamy, nutty topping is what sets this cake apart, providing a rich contrast to the light, moist cake base. After cooking the mixture of butter, evaporated milk, vanilla, sugar, pecans or walnuts, and coconut flakes, it’s important to spread it evenly over the warm cake. This allows the topping to seep into the cake, ensuring every bite is infused with its delectable flavors. For an extra touch of luxury, consider lightly toasting the coconut flakes and nuts before adding them to the topping mixture. This enhances their flavor and adds a subtle crunch.

Creative Decoration Ideas

While the traditional Southern Pineapple Cake is undeniably delicious, adding a personal touch with creative decorations can make your cake stand out. Here are a few ideas:

  • Pineapple Slices and Cherries: Top the cake with thinly sliced pineapple and maraschino cherries for a classic look that hints at the flavors within.
  • Edible Flowers: For a more elegant presentation, decorate your cake with edible flowers. This is perfect for special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries.
  • Whipped Cream Rosettes: Pipe whipped cream rosettes around the edges of the cake for a sophisticated finish. This adds a light, airy contrast to the rich topping.

Remember, the beauty of Southern Pineapple Cake lies in its balance of flavors and textures. While decoration adds visual appeal, it’s the harmony of the moist cake, rich topping, and thoughtful presentation that truly captures the essence of this beloved dessert. Whether you’re serving it at a casual family gathering or a formal celebration, the cake is sure to be a hit, leaving a lasting impression on all who taste it.

Variations of Southern Pineapple Cake

The classic Southern Pineapple Cake is beloved for its moist texture and tropical flavors, but the beauty of this dessert lies in its versatility. Bakers have long experimented with variations to suit different tastes and occasions, making it a truly adaptable treat. Here are some popular twists on the traditional recipe:

  • Pineapple Upside-Down Cake: A visually stunning variation where slices of pineapple and cherries are arranged at the bottom of the pan before the batter is poured over. After baking, the cake is inverted, showcasing a caramelized pineapple topping.
  • Pineapple Coconut Cake: Enhancing the tropical vibe, this version incorporates coconut milk in the batter and shredded coconut in the frosting, offering a more pronounced coconut flavor.
  • Pineapple Carrot Cake: Combining the moistness of carrot cake with the tanginess of pineapple, this variation is perfect for those who love a spiced cake with a fruity twist.
  • Hummingbird Cake: A Southern classic in its own right, the Hummingbird Cake is a banana-pineapple spice cake, filled and frosted with cream cheese icing, and often adorned with pecans.

Each variation maintains the essence of the original while introducing new flavors and textures. Whether you’re a fan of the classic or eager to try a new twist, there’s a Southern Pineapple Cake variation for every palate.

Experimenting with these variations not only broadens your baking repertoire but also allows you to customize the cake to suit any occasion or preference. Whether you’re looking for a show-stopping dessert for a special event or a comforting treat for a family dinner, the Southern Pineapple Cake and its variations offer endless possibilities for delicious creativity.

Serving and Pairing Suggestions

The versatility of Southern Pineapple Cake extends beyond its variations to how it can be served and what it can be paired with. This cake is delightful on its own but can be transformed into an even more memorable dessert experience with the right accompaniments. Here are some serving and pairing suggestions to elevate your Southern Pineapple Cake:

  • Serving Suggestions:
    • A La Mode: Serve a warm slice of cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The contrast between the warm, moist cake and the cold, creamy ice cream is irresistible.
    • With Whipped Cream: A dollop of whipped cream on top of each slice adds a light, airy texture and a touch of elegance.
    • Toasted Coconut Topping: For an extra coconutty flavor, sprinkle toasted coconut flakes over the cake or the whipped cream for added texture and taste.
  • Pairing Suggestions:
    • Coffee or Tea: A cup of hot coffee or tea complements the sweetness and tropical flavors of the cake, making for a cozy and comforting pairing.
    • Fruit Compote: A side of berry or tropical fruit compote can add a fresh, tangy contrast to the rich flavors of the cake.
    • Dessert Wines: Sweet dessert wines such as Moscato or a late-harvest Riesling pair beautifully with the cake, enhancing its fruity notes.

Remember, the key to a successful dessert pairing is balance. The richness of the cake, combined with the right accompaniment, can elevate the overall dining experience, leaving your guests impressed and satisfied. Whether you choose to serve it simply or dress it up with accompaniments, the Southern Pineapple Cake is sure to be a hit at any table.

Professional Baking Tips

Achieving the perfect Southern Pineapple Cake is a blend of art and science. Whether you’re a novice baker or a seasoned pro, these professional baking tips can help you elevate your cake to the next level:

  • Ingredient Temperature: Ensure all your ingredients, especially eggs and butter, are at room temperature before starting. This helps to create a smoother, more homogenous batter, leading to a better-textured cake.
  • Measure Accurately: Baking is precise. Use a kitchen scale to measure your ingredients for accuracy. This is particularly important for the flour and sugar, which can greatly affect the cake’s density and sweetness.
  • Don’t Overmix: Once you add the dry ingredients to the wet, mix just until combined. Overmixing can develop the gluten in the flour, making the cake tough rather than tender.
  • Check for Doneness: Ovens can vary, so start checking the cake for doneness a few minutes before the recommended baking time. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean, or with a few moist crumbs attached.
  • Let it Cool: Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack. This helps the cake set and makes it easier to remove from the pan without breaking.
  • Poke Holes for the Topping: When adding the topping, poke deep holes in the cake while it’s still warm. This allows the topping to penetrate deeply into the cake, making it extra moist and flavorful.

By incorporating these professional tips into your baking process, you can ensure that your Southern Pineapple Cake not only tastes delicious but also looks professionally made. Remember, the secret to a great cake lies in the details, from the choice of ingredients to the way it’s served.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Creating the perfect Southern Pineapple Cake can be a rewarding experience, but even seasoned bakers can encounter pitfalls. Being aware of common mistakes and knowing how to avoid them can make the difference between a good cake and a great one. Here are some key errors to watch out for:

  • Using Drained Pineapple: The moisture from the crushed pineapple and its juice is crucial for achieving the cake’s signature moist texture. Avoid draining the pineapple—use the entire contents of the can.
  • Not Greasing the Pan Properly: Ensure your baking dish is well-greased or lined with parchment paper to prevent the cake from sticking. This is especially important given the moist nature of the cake.
  • Overbaking: Overbaking can dry out the cake, robbing it of its wonderfully moist texture. Keep a close eye on the baking time and perform the toothpick test a few minutes before the timer goes off.
  • Rushing the Topping: The topping should be spread on the cake while it’s still warm to allow it to soak in properly. However, trying to spread the topping on a cake that’s too hot can cause it to absorb unevenly or make the cake soggy.
  • Skipping the Cooling Time: It might be tempting to cut into the cake right away, but allowing it to cool completely helps the flavors to meld and the structure to set, resulting in a better texture and taste.

For those eager to learn more about the intricacies of baking and how to avoid common errors, resources like King Arthur’s Unbleached Cake Flour can offer insights into choosing the right flour for your cake. Additionally, for visual learners, Pinterest provides a plethora of baking tips and tricks that can help you visualize the dos and don’ts of cake baking.


The journey of baking a Southern Pineapple Cake often comes with questions, especially for those trying it for the first time. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions that might arise:

  • Can I use fresh pineapple instead of canned? While canned pineapple is recommended for its convenience and consistent moisture content, fresh pineapple can be used if it’s finely chopped and you adjust for sweetness and moisture. Remember, the juice is key to the cake’s moist texture, so consider adding a bit of pineapple juice if using fresh pineapple.
  • How can I make the cake gluten-free? To make a gluten-free version, substitute the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend designed for baking. Check the blend includes xanthan gum or add it separately, as it helps mimic the texture of gluten.
  • Can the cake be made in advance? Yes, the Southern Pineapple Cake actually tastes better the next day, as the flavors have more time to meld. Just make sure to store it in the refrigerator, covered, to maintain its moisture and freshness.
  • Is there a dairy-free alternative for the topping? For a dairy-free version of the topping, substitute the butter with a plant-based butter and use coconut milk instead of evaporated milk. These substitutes can add a delightful twist to the flavor while accommodating dietary restrictions.
  • How do I store leftovers? Due to its moist nature, it’s best to store the cake in the refrigerator, covered, to prevent it from drying out or becoming too soggy. It will keep well for up to 3-4 days.

For those looking to dive deeper into the art of baking and troubleshooting, exploring additional resources and guides can be incredibly helpful. Whether it’s refining your technique or experimenting with variations, the process of baking a Southern Pineapple Cake is as rewarding as it is delicious.

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Southern Pineapple Cake

  • Author: Naomi
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings


The Southern Pineapple Cake is a quintessential dessert that embodies the essence of Southern hospitality. Known for its moist crumb, rich flavor, and the perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess, this cake is a crowd-pleaser at any gathering.


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 – 20 oz can Dole crushed pineapple (with juice)
For the Topping:
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup coconut flakes


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease or spray with baking spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, eggs, vanilla, and crushed pineapple (with juice) until well combined.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.
While cake is baking, heat butter, evaporated milk, vanilla, and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan until it begins to boil over medium-high heat.
Stir in pecans or walnuts and coconut and continue cooking on medium heat about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken slightly.
Remove baked cake from oven and poke holes all over the top using a wooden chopstick or the tines of a large serving fork.
Spread topping evenly over the top of the warm cake and let cool.
Slice and serve!


  • Ingredient Temperature: For the best results, ensure all your ingredients, especially eggs and butter, are at room temperature before starting.
  • Pineapple: Using canned crushed pineapple in juice is crucial for this recipe as it provides the necessary moisture and sweetness. Do not drain the pineapple; use it with its juice.
  • Topping: The topping should be prepared while the cake is baking so it can be poured over the warm cake, allowing it to soak in and add to the moistness.
  • Storage: This cake can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3-4 days. It’s often found that the flavors meld and deepen, making it even more delicious the day after it’s made.
  • Serving Suggestion: For an extra indulgent treat, serve the cake slightly warmed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.
  • Variations: Feel free to experiment with adding ingredients like walnuts or raisins to the batter for added texture and flavor. A gluten-free flour blend can be used in place of all-purpose flour for those with dietary restrictions.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: American


  • Calories: 494 kcal

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