So, the other day, I asked on our Facebook page for suggestions on what kind of cake to make Grandma for her birthday this year. There were so many great comments and I came away with lots of ideas. I finally narrowed it down to six possible cakes: Strawberry (with the layers being ombre colored), Salted Caramel, Cheesecake, Vanilla, Kitty Litter Cake (I came so close to doing that one just to see Grandma's face lol, but I don't know if we could have convinced her to actually eat it) or Pina Colada. I went back and forth over the weekend trying to decide between all of them, then finally I went with the Pina Colada cake. Let me tell you why :)
When I was growing up, my grandma was always ready for fun. Sure, she didn't really like us grandchildren to make too much noise or track mud through the house, but most people wouldn't and we did run a little wild at times. And she was a little overly fond of threatening to get a switch on certain occasions (not that that switch was ever used on me. . . honestly ;) ) But I digress. Together, she, and her sister, my Aunt Idell, were a force to be reckoned with.
Grandma is on the left and Aunt Idell is on the right.
They were always on the go (Panama City, Fort Walton Beach, Defuniak Springs, Montgomery, sometimes all in one week) and up for an adventure. You never knew where they might take you. . . whether it would be the beach, a boat ride in the gulf, or the races, but there was a good chance that the trip would involve at least a little shopping. You might could say they were shopaholics before the word even existed ;)
Of course, me being the baby (because really, at times, it felt more like I had two grandmas), I was allowed to tag along on a lot of those excursions. It was so much fun shopping with them (they favored bright colors and patterns, which were right up this girl's alley). I was tasked with the job of keeping them informed about the best sales that were going on at their most favorite stores (which were, not in any particular order, Gayfers, J.C. Penney's, and McRae's). Huh, maybe that's when my love of clearance shopping began?
You're probably asking what does all this have to do with this cake? Well, I promise, I'm getting to that.
Among their many trips, if they were in the area, they always made time to stop at a certain establishment for pina coladas. We're talking a stereotypical hole-in-the-wall biker bar with music blaring that apparently, in the opinion of at least two grandmothers, made the best pina coladas ever. I was sworn to complete secrecy for many years about it lest my mom find out exactly where we went on those trips.
It's been many, many years since their adventures, and Aunt Idell passed away a decade ago. But I thought it would be nice to give Grandma a little taste of those days.
2 1/2 c cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c vegetable oil
1 3/4 c granulated sugar
3/4 c sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp rum extract*
1 c crushed pineapple (drained slightly)
*You can easily use rum instead and that's what I would've used except I didn't decide what to make til yesterday which was obviously a Sunday.
1 stick of butter (softened)
1 (8 oz) pkg of cream cheese (softened)
3 - 4 c of powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 - 4 Tbsp of cream of coconut or coconut milk*
Maraschino cherries (optional)
* Something I didn't realize til recently, but cream of coconut and coconut milk are two different things. If you use cream of coconut, be careful not to use too much powdered sugar as the cream of coconut is sweet all on its own. By the way, I had trouble locating it when I went grocery shopping, but finally found it in one store on the international aisle with the Mexican foods.
1) Preheat the oven to 350F.
2) In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt.
3) In a large bowl, cream together the oil and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once you've done that, add the sour cream and the vanilla and rum extracts, making sure to mix well.
4) Add the pineapple and mix until fully incorporated.
5) Add the flour mixture in thirds, making sure not to over mix.
6) Pour the batter into three 8 inch prepared cake pans (line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper and grease the sides). Bake for about 20 - 25 minutes (give or take) or until an inserted toothpick comes out either clean or with only a few moist crumbs. Set aside and allow to cool.
1) In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened cream cheese and butter and beat until smooth.
2) Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
3) Mix in the powdered sugar a little at a time adjusting the amount depending upon how thick you want the frosting. The same goes for the cream of coconut (or coconut milk if you use it instead). I'm honestly guesstimating on the amounts for both on this step. Refrigerate the frosting until ready to use.
Toasting The Coconut:
Spread the coconut out evenly on a baking sheet and place in an oven that's been preheated to 325F degrees. Allow it to bake until the coconut turns a nice golden brown color, making sure to stir every few minutes. Set aside the toasted coconut and allow it to cool completely before using.
Assembling The Cake:
Once the cakes have completely cooled, spread the frosting between each layer, on the sides, and on top. Coat the sides and top of the cake with toasted coconut (Tip: Before you frost the cake, place parchment paper beneath the bottom layer to help keep the plate cleaner. Once you're through, simply pull each piece of paper out and toss it.) I then used a plastic storage bag and a cake decorating tip to make small rosettes on top all the way around the edge. Finish the cake with a few maraschino cherries and enjoy!
Happy Birthday, Grandma!