Pineapple Sheet Cake is a moist, pineapple-studded cake drenched in a sweet, creamy coconut icing, with crispy toasted pecans on top. You’ll be dreaming of beach vacations and tropical cocktails after just one bite!
When it comes to dessert, I’m not likely to kick any of them off the table, but I do love cake. It’s hard to get bored with all the different flavor combinations, textures, fillings, and of course the frosting.
I mean, there’s a reason they’re served at every special occasion I’ve ever been to! While the best cake is definitely one someone else makes for you, the next best thing is sheet cake.
You get to enjoy all its wonderful qualities – a soft piece of buttery cake, draped in a sweet, rich frosting, without the hassle of all the cake pans, layer-stacking, and care needed to construct a dainty, more vertical, confection.
This Pineapple Sheet Cake smells like vacation and tastes like a dream, and comes together faster than you can say “pina colada” (well, almost).
Puerto Rico actually gave us that classic, beach-side cocktail, and this Pineapple Sheet Cake is basically a pina colada cake-ified. Tangy, sweet pineapple, chewy coconut in a creamy icing . . . you just need a palm tree and some sand between your toes (maybe some rum), and the island setting is complete!
The cake itself is a simple batter infused with pineapple juice and dotted with sweet pineapple pieces. The fat in the cake comes from vegetable oil which is a nice, neutral flavor that lets all the pineapple and vanilla flavors shine through.
Although I prefer butter in denser desserts like pound cake (and, of course, dump cakes), oil is a dependable way to ensure a tall and airy result, with the perfect crumb, that’s always moist.
Adding a touch of baking soda (which we use instead of baking powder because of the acidic quality of the pineapple) lightens the batter even more.
You might be tempted to substitute a lighter cake flour too (which has about 8 – 9% protein vs. the 10 – 13% protein in all-purpose flour), but I think a slightly heavier cake in this particular recipe provides a more substantial base for the rich, coconut- and pecan-heavy icing you’ll be pouring on top.
When you’re ready to bake this puppy, you have a couple of options.
Commercial or store-bought sheet cakes usually come in ¼, ½, or full sheet cake sizes, the latter being about 16” x 24”. Most home cooks use the half size (12” x 18”) to make sheet cakes. For this recipe, however, I use a 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking sheet. If you don’t happen to have this size baking pan, do what my Mom does and bake it in a 9” x 13” pan.
Not all of us have sheet cake pans, first of all, but smaller pans means thicker cake slices, and I think we can all agree that’s a good thing! It’ll just take a little longer to bake (~ 10 minutes) than the sheet cake pan version will, but the payoff from this little bit of patience will be almost an extra inch of height.
While the cake’s setting up in the oven, you’ll have time to prepare the warm icing to mingle with the cake once it’s cooked.
By the way, there is a difference between frosting and icing. While some people like to use those words interchangeably (I think someone somewhere decided “icing” sounded fancy and just decided to use it instead), frosting is the lighter, buttercream-style stuff piped onto cupcakes. Icing is the thinner, slightly sweeter sibling that works to glaze pastries and doughnuts.
The concoction used on this Pineapple Sheet Cake is a combo of the two.
This is a cooked icing, similar to the one used on a classic German chocolate cake, but without the egg yolks. The butter, sugar, and evaporated milk turn into a light caramel during this cooking process, and that toasted butter quality really plays well with the coconut and pecans.
I don’t recommend subbing in unsweetened coconut here. The sweetened variety still has some of the coconut water intact, in addition to the sugar, so it’ll not only impact the flavor of the icing but you’ll also miss the characteristic chew of the coconut.
Don’t skip the toasting step on the pecans either because you want them to stand out among all the other flavors going on in this cake. Plus it’s super simple: either toast them on a sheet pan (the one we’re NOT using for baking this cake) in a 350 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes, just until they’re fragrant.
You can also toast them in a big skillet on the stove top, over low/medium-low heat, tossing frequently to prevent burning.
The real magic that makes this cake such a rich treat is pouring the icing over the cake while they’re both still nice and warm. The cake will still be steaming and porous which makes for a perfect sponge to soak up the icing. Just make sure you wait to add the toasted pecans on top, rather than stirring them in with the coconut, so they’ll keep more of their crispy texture.
Yes, I like sheet cakes because they’re easier for me to bake and frost, but it’s not all about making me happy, I suppose.
This Pineapple Sheet Cake is more portable and therefore easier to share (which may be a difficult decision to make once you’ve tasted this cake).
You can bake it and serve it out of the same container too, which means no stressing over whether you adequately greased those little round pans enough to keep from breaking the cake when you turn it out to cool. If you’ve ever tackled cutting a multi-layer cake and been frustrated with the etiquette of cutting it properly (wedges? Quarters, then slices?), the sheet cake takes all the guesswork out of that too.
This Pineapple Sheet Cake is such a sweet, textural masterpiece that I actually love to make it all year long – during the summer when I might actually be spending my days on the beach, and during the winter when I’m wrapped up in blankets and dreaming of warm, sunny days.
If you haven’t made a sheet cake, this is the one to try. If you have made a sheet cake, this one’s gonna be your new favorite!
More Cake Recipes?
Apple Dump Cake Recipe –This cake is infused with tender fruit and a rich, buttery cake covered with crunchy crumbs!
Strawberry Triple Layer Cake – This delicious showstopper cake is super moist, rich, and sweet!
Peach Dump Cake – Loads of luscious fruit marry a warm, buttery cake for a sweet, effortless ending to any meal.
Hummingbird Cake – A touch of tang in the cream cheese balances the cake , along with a generous garnish of more chopped pecans!
Source: Spicy Southern Kitchen
- Yield: Serves 12
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 24 minutes
Pineapple Sheet Cake
- Sugar - 2 Cups
- All-Purpose Flour - 2 Cups
- Vegetable Oil - 1/2 Cup
- Eggs - 2 Large
- Crushed Pineapple-Undrained - 1 (20-Ounce) Can
- Baking Soda - 1 Teaspoon
- Vanilla Extract - 1 Teaspoon
- Salt - 1/4 Teaspoon
- Sugar - 1 Cups
- Butter, Cubed - 1/2 Cups
- Canned Evaporated Milk - 2/3 Cups
- Salt - Pinch
- Sweetened Shredded Coconut - 3/4 Cup
- Toasted Pecans, Chopped - 1/2 Cups
- Preheat oven to 375 Degrees. Spray a 15X10X1 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium mixing bowl, mix together all cake ingredients until smooth. Pour into prepared pan.
- Bake in preheat oven 20-24 minutes or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted int the center comes out clean.
- While the cake is baking, make the icing. In a saucepan combine the sugar, butter, salt, and evaporated milk. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Stir in the coconut.
- Pour the icing over hot cake. Sprinkle the top with pecans. Allow icing to set and cool before cutting.