Pineapple in carrot cake


What fun we've been having in our lab this month! Three birthdays three weeks in a row -- plus a potluck Octoberfest -- means lots of baking. A light, simple orange-coconut-chocolate layer cake for the first birthday (a European student), chocolate cupcakes for the second (a self-described picky junk food eater), and now our dear (almost) grown-up boyscout of a guy has pledged a preference for carrot cake.

I don't turn down a slice of carrot cake when offered to me, but it isn't my favorite and I've perhaps made one or two in my entire baking career. In looking for a recipe for this week, therefore, I was astonished to find pineapple included in nearly every cake. I would never have guessed pineapple to be an ingredient in most of the carrot cakes I've eaten, and certainly not in the ones I've enjoyed.

Does "everyone else" consider pineapple standard in carrot cake? Does canned pineapple tend to blend in to the batter so that big chunks aren't obvious? Any opinions or recommendations for or against including it? My thanks!

badge posted by: biobaker on October 24, 2010 at 11:25 pm in Baking, desserts and sweets
share on: Twitter, Facebook
Replies to this discussion
Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save" to activate your changes.
reply by: PaddyL on October 24, 2010 at 11:36 pm

Very good question, biobaker. I've made carrot cake from time to time, but always without the pineapple. The last carrot cake, or piece of, that we had did have pineapple in it (I didn't make it.) and my sister loved it. Since then, I've been debating whether or not to add it next time I make this cake. It will be interesting to see what others think.

reply by: HopeH on October 24, 2010 at 11:39 pm

I've seen a lot of carrot cake recipes without it, as well as bought slices in delis without pineapple. My own taste is that I love it, but I'm extra-fond of pineapple to begin with. All the recipes I've seen used crushed pineapple, so there weren't any "chunks" to disappear, although there were small bits. (I think there's a difference between a "bit" and a "chunk," yes?) :~)

If he has no preference, use your own. However, it does make the cake very moist.

reply by: beachdee on October 24, 2010 at 11:42 pm

good topic, biobaker! I tend to prefer carrot cake with pineapple and most recipes I know of include it (and coconut, too, but it is not in as many recipes). The thing is to make sure the crushed pineapple is really well-drained. If the recipe calls for some liquid, and the pineapple was packed in its own juice (not syrup) then you could perhaps include a bit of the juice. But since the pineapple is not really the main player, I think that would depend on how much one likes it and wants the cake to taste of it.

As with so many things, there are many "favorite" carrot cake recipes and the ingredients can really vary. The pineapple helps give it the characteristic moistness. Nothing worse than a dry carrot cake. I saw one recipe that used applesauce to replace pineapple. -BeachDee

reply by: beachdee on October 24, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Forgot to add, but I don't think that an applesauce carrot cake would taste like "real" carrot cake to me...somehow there's an interplay between the pineapple and carrot flavors that for me is inexplicably the "carrot cake flavor".

reply by: biobaker on October 25, 2010 at 12:20 am

Hmmm...fascinating. I have a serious suspicion that I've been enjoying pineapple as an intrinsic element of "carrot cake flavor" without realizing it. I also have a suspicion that I'll be best off taking my trusty cleaver to the can of pineapple chunks I've purchased before adding it to the batter. And, perhaps, reserving the liquid until after I've mixed in my grated carrots and determined how moist or dry this batch of roots might be?

reply by: wingboy on October 25, 2010 at 1:15 am

I like pineapple, but I'm not that fond of it in a carrot cake. I'm partial to the recipes from the 70s with a lot of oil. I have a version posted from my DSW's Aunt Mildred. Lots of oil and topped with lots of cream cheese frosting. It has carrots so it must be a health food, right?

reply by: beachdee on October 25, 2010 at 12:50 pm

America's Test Kitchen "Best Light Recipe" book has a carrot cake recipe that does NOT include pineapple and has only 1/2 cup oil in it. Confess I haven't tried it. My dad also came up with a yummy carrot cake recipe that was a healthier (from less fat and oil standpoint) take, after his triple by-pass back when he was only early-50s in age. He's in his 80's now and only had to go back in for replumbing once (doc told him most are back with additional problems after only 7-10 years), so he's doing something right. If I can find it, I'll post it, if anybody expresses interest in it.

I prefer to get the moisture from a balance of less oil and the moist pineapple. Personally, I find the cup-or-more of oil recipes too greasy, but as with all this food stuff, it's just a matter of personal taste, right?! (sorry, groans deserved and allowed, LOL) -BeachDee

reply by: KIDPIZZA on October 25, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Good day to you. I can understand your interesr in the use of veg. oil in baking. As you know (others may not know this secret) that part of the oil can be subst. with apple sauce. In my recipe for carrot cake it does employ pineapple (Crushed w/o the juice).I use the juice to macerate the raisins over-nite along with a little cinn. & a spot of honey. I enjoy my recipe very much. I would never change it.
Enjoy the rest of the day Dee you hear!.


reply by: Naughtysquirrel on October 25, 2010 at 2:12 pm

I love carrot cake I love pineapple I love cream cheese...a vegetable a fruit a dairy..almost the perfect food...NS

reply by: beachdee on October 25, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Your raisin-soaking concept sounds good, KidPizza. Maybe I'll try that whenever I next make a carrot cake. Oh yes, raisins...another love 'em or hate 'em ingredient (up there with coconut, from my observation). Some recipe include, some don't. And that's what makes the world so much more interesting, no? I also do often substitute applesauce for some of the fat/oil, in fact just made a banana cake doing that. The cake I had mentioned earlier was actually using applesauce in place of pineapple, as the fruit/moisture component. I wouldn't have any issue with having the pineapple and then replacing some oil with applesauce. But I don't think any of these cakes NEED so much oil, I usually bake with less fat and sugar than recipes call for. It's all what one's tastebuds like, and what one desires to consume. I've gotten more "European" in my likes, baked sweets-wise -- less sugar is tastier, too sweet gives me a headache just thinking about it. To each his own :^)

reply by: bocca on October 26, 2010 at 2:39 am

That is a good idea with the raisins. Pineapple has got to be in carrot cake! I grew up eating that way and was stunned when I realized there were recipes without it, haha my reaction was overly dramatic but it was a bit of a surprise.

reply by: biobaker on October 26, 2010 at 4:19 am

Beachdee, I couldn't agree with you more. We could enjoy "tea" together any time! No offense to anyone of alternate opinion, but baked goods with oodles of fat and sugar, with very few exceptions, just don't appeal to me. Not only do they not taste good, the texture tends to be overly squishy for my liking and the effect on my stomach isn't too pleasant, either. As much as I love KA's recipes, I usually begin by slashing the sugar and replacing half of the fat with applesauce. The major exceptions are cookies, where texture relies on those proportions. Muffins, cakes, and other quick breads are the worst offenders! I definitely realize that this is the product of acquired taste and that I'm in the minority.

That said, I've had real reservations about reducing the sugar in the KA carrot cake. I'll use a low-oil recipe and have no qualms about substituting for part of the fat, but this type of cake tends to depend on sugar for texture to the extent that I fear reducing the sugar will also reduce the rise and negatively impact the crumb. Beachdee, have you tried reducing the sugar in a carrot cake?

Incidentally, I did find and love the sound of the healthier carrot cake recipe. If I was making this for myself, I'd use it without question. Being as it is a birthday present for a fairly normal guy, however, I'm probably best off using a more standard recipe. Then again, he raved over the low-sugar, whole wheat flour and oatmeal-topped apple crisp I brought in this morning!

reply by: omaria on October 26, 2010 at 9:45 am

Good Morning everybody. See how funny this world can be ?I was just flabbergasted when I saw these postings. Pineapple in carrot cake???I never heard of such a thing. But it sounds good and I happen to have a fresh pineapple on my counter. Part of that one will be used for a pineapple-carrot cake. Ria.

reply by: Mike Nolan on October 26, 2010 at 9:55 am
Mike Nolan

My wife will begrudgingly put up with coconut in carrot cake, pineapple sounds like a good substitute for both the flavor and texture of coconut.

I'll gladly put raisins in almost anything.

reply by: beachdee on October 26, 2010 at 11:33 am

biobaker, tea together sounds lovely! I can't recall about making a carrot cake with reduced sugar, cuz it's been so long since I baked one!

Our PCC co-op grocery deli has "most excellent" carrot cake, huge pieces, & I buy one every couple of weeks. DH & I share it, I scrape off all but a thin "taste" of the cream cheese frosting (wouldn't dream of doing without totally!) and that's how we keep from overdoing it.

In the past I've cut sugar back from, say, 1 cup to no more than 3/4 cup (and usually using all if not most Florida Crystals or other not-as-refined sugar). That's how I usually bake. Not severely reducing, but reducing nonetheless & amount depending on other ingredients. If there were a lot of dried fruit in a recipe I'd probably cut back even more. I like honey but DH doesn't so not often using it.

If it tastes good, I'm not so worried about texture, frankly, but don't recall huge issues with texture, as my choice of recipe usually is the heartier sort of thing. Of course, also usually am subbing in at least some WW or whole spelt or whathaveyou flour, so that changes things too. Let's just say, I'm not known for baking chiffon cakes! LOL! The original Crunchy-Granola person, or Roots-n-Twigs as my DH says. :)

reply by: beachdee on October 26, 2010 at 11:50 am

biobaker, I replied using the instructions PJ gave about which "reply" link to use to put my post at the bottom of the post list, but the "reply mode du jour" decided to put it at the TOP of the list of posts, so you can find it there... :^{

reply by: Sheryle on October 26, 2010 at 12:39 pm

All this talk about carrot I'm craving it. :)

I've had carrot cake both ways, with pineapple and without. I like both but prefer it with pineapple but then, I love pinapple. Never had it with coconut....I imagine I would like that too.

reply by: biobaker on October 26, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Oh, Beachdee, this is wonderfully hilarious. I, too, love my local co-op's carrot cake, though the exorbitant price means that I've only enjoyed it at a few co-op parties (the joys of being a volunteer!) I completely agree with you about the texture issue, but that is perhaps my biggest reason for concern in baking for other people. When I think that a whole wheat chocolate cake has come out beautifully moist and rich, those with whom I've shared it have commented more than once on its being dry and "healthy tasting." Of course, they eat it anyway, and I've just become known as the girl who eschews white flour. Nothing new; one of my nicknames in high school was "the crunchy granola girl!" Does that make us foodie sisters?

Since I'm baking the carrot cake in collaboration with a friend (Macedonian, and also preferring less sugar), I'm not sure yet what we'll decide to do. Regardless, come Thursday, I'll have to let you-all know how it was received.

Thanks, all, for all of the pineapple, coconut, and raisin suggestions!

reply by: bocca on October 28, 2010 at 11:52 am

Wingboy the family recipe we have sounds similar but I'd guess ours is from the 60's, lots of oil and loaded with cream cheese frosting but it includes pineapple. Love that type of health food!

reply by: frick on October 28, 2010 at 6:22 pm

I can't imagine a carrot cake WITHOUT pineapple. It has to have walnuts, too and of course, cream cheese frosting. I've never had it with coconut but would be willing to try, however, it would be a strange cousin to the real thing.

reply by: frick on October 28, 2010 at 6:25 pm

By the way, NOT pineapple chunks, but crushed pineapple. Some bits will remain here and there, and while it may not be the main player, there is no doubt it is there. So good.

reply by: biobaker on October 28, 2010 at 6:46 pm

The carrot cake has been baked, presented, and enjoyed with...hmmm...success, I think? Seeing as three of our group dislike raisins and two hate coconut (no, I don't understand it either), we decided to delete those two options and include the pinapple instead. Having purchased a can of pineapple chunks in juice, we just drained off the juice (drank pineapple juice and rum on ice while baking) and took a cleaver to the chunks for a few minutes. The batter was beautiful, the cakes looked lovely coming out of the oven, and both layers left their top halves in the pan when we turned them out. I thoroughly greased both (vegetable oil; it's all my friend had in her kitchen) and used nonstick pans, so my best guess is that the amount of inclusions made the cake too fragile?

The biggest problem ended up being with the frosting. 8 ounces of neufchatel, 1/2 cup butter, and 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar beat up to a sweet, runny slurry. Definitely not light and fluffy and spreadable! The frosting was already teeth-numbingly sweet (way too sweet for the two of us), so we tried making up a simple egg white and powdered sugar meringue and folding that in. The meringue helped marginally with the sweetness, but didn't substantively change the texture. In the end, we poured our "frosting" over the bottom layer, flipped the top layer on (and watched it crack, and try to repair the worst of the damage), and poured the rest of the filling over the top and sides.

It looked perfectly dreadful, but everyone this morning seemed to think it tasted wonderful. Definitely very moist, even if Biljana and I still thought it far too sweet. Most relevantly, we all enjoyed the pineapple; I'm sure it helped boost the moisture content (even if it contributed to the cake falling apart) and seemed to boost the carrot flavor without overwhelming its essential carrotyness.

If anyone has any ideas on what happened with our frosting, I'd love to hear them!

reply by: beabaker on November 10, 2010 at 12:11 pm

funny - can't imagine carrot cake with pineapple - we don't even put raisins in here and it's a winner for sure.

reply by: janetb21 on November 10, 2010 at 3:56 pm

I've had carrot cake with pineapple, and I don't really care for it. It tends to be a piece of squishiness. I do like walnuts and raisins in my carrot cake though.

reply by: beachdee on November 11, 2010 at 1:38 am

IGNORE - my post went to the wrong place (despite what it showed above it while composing...won't let me totally delete it.

reply by: beachdee on November 11, 2010 at 1:44 am

Again, my post went to the wrong place (despite what it showed above it while composing...won't let me totally delete it.

PJH & KAF - here's another example where not once, but TWICE the post went somewhere other than expected, using the "small reply" button just below someone else's post. These ended up several posts below, after older posts. Frustrating, hope fixing this whole reply/posting thing is near the top of your fixit list!!! I mean, this is the meat of what a forum is about, for crying out loud...and we still await definitive instructions for which links to use. Well past time for it, IMO. Unless you can't tell us becuz they don't work properly...but then it would be nice to hear someone at KAF ackowledge that, instead of keep saying, "well, if you just use Reply" or "Post Reply" or "reply" it'll go here or there or hither and yon -- yet it does not, CONSISTENTLY. I'm not the only one who's pointed this out. It would be a bit placating to at least know what the status of this issue is, thanks.

reply by: beachdee on November 11, 2010 at 1:46 am

janetb21, I find that if it is properly drained before adding, pineapple will not make the cake "squishy". IMHO, what makes the carrot (and other) cakes in my experience squishy/ucky, is the way-overboard amount of oil that is used in the recipe...and I don't really care for that. I can't see a need for more than a half cup of oil in a normal-sized cake recipe. But perhaps the cakes you've tried were not the super-oily ones, but just the "pineapple's too wet" variety....and anyway, certainly you have the right to not like pineapple-carrot cake, LOL! By the way, has anybody else experienced having the walnuts turn black and not-nice-looking in carrot cake after a day or so? I thought perhaps they were reacting to some other ingredient (such as the acidic pineapple) but have no scientific basis to back that theory up.

reply by: pambola on December 07, 2010 at 10:19 pm

I have had positive comments regarding my recipe for carrot cake and it only contains shredded carrots; no pineapple, no raisins, just carrots. It is a standard spice cake with 3 cups of shredded carrots that are combined with 3 tablespoons of the original amount of flour so they do not fall to the bottom of the cake while baking. The cake is iced with cream cheese icing and people love it. I found when developing this recipe that when people want a carrot cake, that is exactly what they want.... a carrot cake.

reply by: beabaker on December 08, 2010 at 10:06 am

mines the same!