I tried pineapple and walnut cake for the first time recently and this experience turned out to be a neat example of food psychology. I find that pineapple cake has a distinct flavour and texture that is noticeably different from that of a standard cake. So when most people try it for the first time, they are thrown off when it doesn’t taste the way they were subconsciously expecting it to. This mismatch results in a knee-jerk negative perception of the food at hand. It took me two bites to decide whether or not I liked it, and only one more bite to fall in love with it 🙂 I made it for my mom’s birthday the next week. My dad, Ed’s family, and my housemate really enjoyed the cake. But it was funny to watch my mom, Ed, and Krystal as they took their first bites. I could see from their faces that they had the same initial reaction that I had. My sister didn’t take another bite because she decided that she didn’t like it. However, it didn’t take long for my mom to decide that she liked it. Then, after encouraging Ed to try more of it, he quickly became a big fan too 🙂 If you give it a chance, I think you are going to love the moistness and density of this simple and fresh cake.
My co-worker, Ainsley, was kind enough to share his recipe with me. He also shared a great tip, which is to refrigerate the cake for 2 days before eating. I tasted the cake after a few hours of refrigeration, after 24 hours of refrigeration and then after 48 hours of refrigeration, and it really did get better with time. The cake became more moist, more [pleasantly] dense, and more flavourful, so I highly recommend the waiting period. This would be the perfect dessert to make ahead of time for a party.
Note: I’ve made changes to the recipes for the cake and the frosting, but Ainsley doesn’t know the original source so unfortunately, I’m not able to credit the original author.
Best Pineapple and Walnut Cake Recipe
for the cake:
19 ounce (large) can of crushed pineapple in juice
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
for the cream cheese frosting:
1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup (or more to taste) icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease and flour a 9″ by 13″ pan. Note: I used a metal, non-stick pan. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda and set aside. Using an electric stand mixer, mix the eggs and sugar on medium speed until well combined. Then mix in the vanilla. Add the vegetable oil, the can of pineapples and juice, and the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed until well combined. Then gently mix in the walnuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use a rubber spatula to spread the batter out evenly. Try to push a little bit more batter into the corners of the pan. Bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool. Meanwhile, make the cream cheese frosting.
Using your stand mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the melted butter and mix in the vanilla. Then mix in the sifted icing sugar 1/4 cup at a time to taste, until well combined, creamy, and smooth. Spread onto the cooled cake and refrigerate for 2 days before serving. Although the cake can be enjoyed as soon as it is chilled through, this waiting period will make the cake more moist, more pleasantly dense, and more flavourful.