This old-fashioned Granny Cake recipe is a delicious pineapple cake with a sprinkling of brown sugar and a creamy, buttery sauce with chopped nuts and shredded coconut poured over the top. The topping seeps into the cake making it incredibly moist and flavorful.
What is Granny Cake?
Granny Cake is an easy pineapple dump cake, with brown sugar and a sweet milk topping. It gets its name because it is the kind of old-fashioned recipe you find taped inside your grandma's cabinet.
Some versions just have nuts and the sweet milk glaze over the top, but my granny's recipe includes shredded coconut!
Depending on where you are from, you may know this cake by one of its other names. It is also called Cajun Cake, Arkansas Doodle Cake, and my favorite, Do Nothing Cake.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
No Mixer Needed - It's so simple to make, you don't even need to take out your electric mixer! Just whisk the ingredients in a bowl and pour it into a 9x13 pan to bake.
The Most Moist Cake - The milk and butter glaze soaks into the cake resulting in a texture similar to tres leches cake. It's the moistest cake you will ever have!
Buttery Brown Sugar Flavor - With the pineapple and coconut you might think this would be a tropical summertime dessert. But don't worry! It does not have a strong pineapple flavor. And the butter and brown sugar add a caramel flavor that is comforting all year round!
Family Recipe - Homemade Granny Cake with coconut is a recipe from my family's collection, passed down for generations! It is a nostalgic recipe with simple ingredients that will remind you of something your grandma would make.
See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full list of ingredients, including measurements.
All-Purpose Flour - This recipe calls for all-purpose flour since it is a pantry staple, but cake flour would work also.
Crushed Pineapple - This recipe calls for the whole can of pineapple, both the fruit and the juice, which adds a lot of moisture and sweetness.
Butter - I use salted butter most of the time, but either salted or unsalted may be used.
Evaporated Milk - Be sure to get evaporated milk and not sweetened condensed milk. If you use the latter without any recipe changes your dessert will end up way too sweet! You can also use heavy cream instead of evaporated milk.
Nuts - Use pecans or walnuts, whichever you have on hand. If you do not like nuts then leave them out completely.
Coconut - Unsweetened coconut is best as there is already a lot of sugar in this recipe, making the cake plenty sweet.
Step One: Whisk Dry Ingredients
- Place all of the white dry ingredients (that's including the granulated sugar, but not the brown sugar) in a large mixing bowl.
- This doesn't have to be mixed a lot. Just enough to not have a big clump of baking powder or something in the batter.
Step Two: Add Wet Ingredients
- Add the crushed pineapple and the eggs to the flour mixture.
- This time whisk really well. It is ready when you no longer see any streaks of eggs and everything seems thoroughly combined.
Step Three: Pour into Pan
- Pour the batter into a greased 9x13-baking baking dish.
- Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the top.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350°F (177°C).
Step Four: Prepare Topping
- About 10 minutes before the cake is done baking it's time to prepare the topping.
- Bring everything except for the coconut to a rolling boil and stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved.
- Mix in the coconut.
Step Five: Top the Cake
- Pour the cooked milk mixture over the hot cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.
- Try to pour the liquid evenly. It is okay if the nuts and coconut fall in clumps.
- After all of the liquid is poured, take a spoon and carefully redistribute the nuts and coconut so that they are scattered evenly as well.
- Let the cake sit at room temperature for several hours. The topping will seep in, making it super moist!
- Note: Some recipes call for you to poke holes in the cake. This is not necessary and I find that this step can lead to parts of your cake becoming too soggy.
- Spiced Granny Cake - Add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the dry ingredients. The warm spice blends nicely with the other ingredients.
- Nuts - Some Granny Cake recipes call for the nuts to be sprinkled on the batter along with the brown sugar. Other recipes have no nuts. You choose!
- No Coconut - Lots of old-fashioned Granny Cake recipes are made without coconut. My family recipe includes the coconut, but you can skip this ingredient if you prefer.
- Cream Cheese Frosting - Replace the sweet milk topping with your favorite cream cheese frosting! The cake will not have the tres leches-like texture, but it will still be moist with tons of great flavor!
Wrap the pan tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and store it at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Yes, while I recommend that you let the cake cool completely so that all of the topping is absorbed, it's okay if you can't wait! Just let the cake sit for at least 30 minutes, then slice and serve. You can also reheat a slice of cake in the microwave if you prefer it warm.
First of all, don't feel bad. Buying sweetened condensed milk instead of evaporated milk is an easy mistake to make. You can still use the condensed milk for the topping! Just leave out the ⅔ cup of sugar since it is already sweetened.
Let me know how you like this recipe by leaving a review! And follow along on Instagram @stateofdinner for behind the scenes and to be among the first to know when new recipes post!
Granny CakeRecipe by:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (260 grams)
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar (300 grams)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 20 ounce can crushed pineapple (not drained)
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup brown sugar (110 grams)
- ¾ cup evaporated milk (177 ml)
- 10 tablespoons butter (142 grams)
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar (133 grams)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (75 grams)
- ½ cup shredded coconut (48 grams)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 9x13-inch pan with nonstick spray.
- Whisk the flour, 1 ½ cups granulated sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
- Add the crushed pineapple and eggs and whisk until thoroughly combined.
- Pour the batter into your prepared cake pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the top of the cake batter. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Meanwhile, place the evaporated milk, butter, ⅔ cup granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and chopped nuts into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Once the mixture has come to a boil and the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the shredded coconut.
- Remove the baked cake from the oven and immediately pour the topping evenly over the cake. The nuts and coconut may clump. Gently use a spoon to distribute across the cake. Cool for 2-3 hours so that the topping is absorbed into the cake.