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Coconut Pineapple Custard Cake

Makes8 to 10 servings
  • Active time: 1 hr
    Total time: 3 hr (includes cooling cake)
Coconut and pineapple are a natural pairing of tropical flavors. A tart, luscious, pineapple custard is spread between layers of moist coconut cake and then the cake is adorned with snowy peaks of marshallowy meringue (toasted if you like). This cake is also dairy-free and we promise you won't miss the butter or the cream.


For cake:

  • 3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted self-rising cake flour (sift before measuring), plus more for flouring pan
  • 1 cup unsweetened plain almond milk or 1 cup coconut water, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs, warmed in a bowl of very warm water for 10 minutes
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For pineapple custard filling:

  • 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple in juice
  • 4 large egg yolks (reserve 2 whites for frosting; see below)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For frosting:

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted (see Cooks' Note)


  • 2 (9-inch) round cake pans; a stand mixer; a kitchen torch (optional)


Bake cake layers:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Oil cake pans and line bottom with a round of parchment paper, then flour, knocking out excess.
  • Combine cake flour with coconut in a food processor. Let machine run until coconut is coarsely ground. Transfer to a large bowl.
  • Whisk together almond milk, oil, eggs, sugar, and vanilla in another bowl until smooth. Pour wet ingredients into flour mixture and whisk until just combined.
  • Divide batter between prepared pans and bake until golden and cake starts to pull away from sides of pan, 25 to 35 minutes.
  • Cool cakes in pan on a rack 30 minutes. Run a knife around edges and invert cakes onto rack (discard parchment). Cool completely.

Make pineapple custard while cakes cool:

  • Purée pineapple with juice in a blender. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a 2- quart heavy saucepan. Discard solids (clean and reserve sieve).
  • Add yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt to purée and whisk to combine. Cook over medium low heat, whisking occasionally, until mixture starts to bubble, then boil, whisking, 2 minutes (mixture will thicken).
  • Remove from heat and whisk in lemon juice. Force custard through fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover surface with parchment and chill until cool (or quick-chill by setting bowl in an ice bath, stirring occasionally).
  • Spread cooled custard over 1 cake layer on a plate, leaving a 1/2- inch border free around edge, then top with another cake layer, bottom side down, over custard. (See Cooks' Notes.)

Make frosting:

  • Combine egg whites, sugar, water, corn syrup, cream of tartar, and salt in bowl of stand mixer and set over medium saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water (do not let bottom of bowl touch water). Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved and mixture registers 160°F on instant-read thermometer, 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove bowl from heat and transfer to stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Add vanilla. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes.
  • Increase speed to medium-high and continue to beat until mixture has cooled to room temperature and stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes longer.
  • Fold in toasted coconut.

Finish cake:

  • Frost sides and top of cake, mounding frosting in decorative peaks on top.
  • If using a kitchen torch, move flame evenly back and forth over top and along sides of cake until frosting is golden brown in spots.


  • To lightly toast coconut, spread on a rimmed sheet pan and bake in a preheated 350°F oven, stirring once or twice, 12 to 15 minutes. A good time to toast it would be after cake layers come out of 350°F oven.
  • Cake layers and custard can be made and assembled 2 days ahead and kept chilled, wrapped well in plastic wrap. Bring to room temperature.
  • Frosting can be made and cake assembled 4 hours ahead. Once frosting is made, be ready to spread it on cake; don't let the frosting stand around.