Zucchini and pineapple is not a combination of ingredients that I normally would have thought of putting together, but let me tell you, they work wonderfully together. This cake is one of the most moist and delicious cakes that I have ever made. I considered making my famous carrot cake for this occasion (and by famous, I mean it's my family's favorite) but I wanted to try something new, and since it was zucchini season, I started looking for zucchini cake recipe ideas. Usually when I think about baking with zucchini I tend towards making a quick bread, but I figured it could work in cake, just like carrots do. While I was browsing I saw a few recipes that included pineapple on the ingredient list. Like I said, at first I wasn't too sure about the combo, but I use pineapple in my carrot cake recipe, so I went with me foodie instincts and the cake turned out great!
The cake is moist, flavorful, and full of wonderful textures, especially from the pineapple pieces and the coconut. I didn't add any raisins or nuts, even though I think they would be the perfect compliment to this spice cake. Certain family members... *cough*myhusband*cough* dislike these additions to cakes. The other nice thing about this cake is that it moderately healthy, as far as cakes go. There is only a small amount of fat from oil, so the eggs and yogurt really make the cake rich instead of a large amount of oil or butter. There isn't a ton of regular sugar added either, since a lot of the sweetness is introduced through the pineapple and coconut instead. That being said, cake is still cake and the ridiculously delicious buttercream cancels out any "healthiness" the cake may or may not have had.
You could make the cake and serve it without any frosting but in my opinion, if you make this cake, you absolutely must make the brown butter buttercream to go with it. I wish I could do a better job of explaining how well this cake and this frosting go together, but I am at a loss for words. If you have never tried using brown butter before, this is the perfect recipe to start with because the lovely spiced cake perfectly highlights the deep, rich, not too sweet flavor of this brown butter buttercream. I hope you give this recipe a try even if it seems a little bit out there for you; it truly is a fantastic spice cake.
Zucchini Pineapple Cake
1 cup white sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vanilla or plain greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
2 cups grated zucchini
1 (20 oz can) crushed pineapple in juice, drained
1/4 to 1/2 cup reserved juice from pineapple, if needed
1/2 cup raisins and/or chopped pecans or walnuts, optional
Preheat the oven to 350F and grease two 9" cake pans. Combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, greek yogurt, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and whisk together until well combined. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt and then add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until just barely combined. Stir in the zucchini, pineapple, and coconut. Also add the raisins and/or nuts, if desired. Add enough of the reserved pineapple juice, if needed. The batter should be somewhat on the thin side, but not totally soupy. Evenly divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 20 minutes in the pans and the remove from the pans and cool completely on wire racks.
Inspired by Taste & Tell
Brown Butter Buttercream
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
3-4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
2-3 tbsp milk or cream
Place 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat and cook until the butter is lightly browned, stirring frequently, about 3-5 minutes. See my brown butter chocolate chip cookie post for more details on browning butter. Let the butter cool completely to room temperature. Mix the other stick (1/2 cup) of softened butter and brown butter together and then incorporate the powdered sugar until you reach the consistency and sweetness of your liking. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, and enough milk to make the frosting just a bit creamy. You may have leftover buttercream, depending on how you choose to frost your cake.