Pineapple Strawberry Cream Cake
Feeling real lazy and craving pineapple cake one day, I searched online to compile a shmorgasborg of short-cut ingredients.  Because this cake is anything but made from scratch, I wasn't expecting much.  To my complete surprise, this pineapple cake can easily compete with cakes baked from scratch and has possibly won itself a spot on my top 5 list of cakes!  Not kidding - its So. Yummy.  Moist from all the pineapples and fresh strawberries and cool and creamy fresh whipped cream, each slice is total heaven.  This is THEE cake for your long, hot summers.  (Strawberries can be omitted if not in season.)

Ingredients (9-inch round cake)

  • 1 (15.75 ounce) box white cake mix, sifted
  • 3 eggs, near room temperature, beaten (when eggs are too cold, the cake does not rise as high and may bake unevenly)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted (butter is fine to use, but coconut oil takes this cake to another level of happiness)
  • 1 (20 ounce) can Dole crushed pineapple, in "Heavy Syrup"
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream (fine, yes, you can use a 12 oz. tub of Cool Whip topping - if so, omit powdered sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar 
  • 15 to 18 medium strawberries, washed and dried

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9-inch round aluminum cake pan with a parchment paper round coating pan and parchment with butter or coconut oil.

2.  Whisk cake mix, eggs, melted coconut oil and milk together until just incorporated.  Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake as directed.

3.  While cake is baking, hull the strawberries and cut each strawberry in half.  Set aside in refrigerator.

3.  When cake is done baking, allow cake to cool completely in the pan.  Remove cooled cake from pan, place cake on 9 or 10-inch cake cardboard round, and wrap cake with plastic wrap so that its airtight.  Refrigerate until ready to use).

4.  To make filling, dump entire can of crushed pineapples and syrup into a medium sized mixing bowl.  Stir in instant vanilla pudding powder until mixture thickens.  Set aside.  In your mixer mixing bowl, add in heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar.  Place beater attachment onto mixer and whip mixture on high for 1 to 2 minutes, watching the mixture carefully.  When soft peaks apppear (when liquid begins to solidify), keep a close eye on the peaks, as it will soon be done.  When nice, solid whipped cream peaks form, stop mixer immediately.  Over whipping will make you butter!  Use a spatula to add a third of pineapple mixture into whipped cream, carefully folding in.  Repeat two more times with remaining pineapple mixture.  DO NOT OVERFOLD NOR BEAT PINEAPPLE MIXTURE INTO WHIPPING CREAM.  If you are not careful the delicate whipped cream will deflate.  Cover mixing bowl of pineapple cream with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.

5.  Remove cooled cake from refrigerator and remove plastic wrap.  Use a serrated knife and cake turntable (if you have one) to evenly cut the cake in half, horizontally.

6.  Spread bottom half of cake with a thin layer of pineapple cream.  (*Tip: if you did not split your cake evenly, distribute the cream to cover uneven sides with more or less cream, as needed!).  Take strawberry halves, staring from outer edge of cake, lay strawberries cut-side down with pointy ends sticking outwards, next to each other so they are touching.  Make sure a bit of strawberry point is slightly sticking from the edge of the cake so that it shows through in the final presentation.  Continue laying strawberry halves until there is no room left!  Next layer: top strawberries with about ⅓ of pineapple cream left in mixer.  Use a spatual to spread evenly over strawberries.  Add more cream as needed.

7.  Carefully place top half of cake over filling.  Spread half of remaining filling on top half of cake.  Add more as needed.  Use your spatula to make fun swirls and waves on top - don't worry about making the cream look perfect, it's a rustic looking cake, which makes it all the more irresistible!  Refrigerate cake for at least 8 hours before serving.