This quick and easy granny cake is a deliciously moist pineapple cake topped with brown sugar and nuts, then a cooked hot milk and butter glaze poured over the baked cake that soaks right into the cake.
This classic cake is full of warmth and comfort like you’re visiting grandma’s house, yet it’s super easy to make. It’s definitely a crowd-pleaser and one you’ll want to make over and over.
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The brown sugar and nut topping provide a crunch contrast to the moist and fluffy pineapple cake and the glaze adds a burst of moisture and richness that ties everything together.
This easy version of granny cake starts off with a boxed cake mix, but there’s no way anyone could tell when eating it, because this one tastes completely homemade as if you made it from scratch, but much quicker.
It’s a one-pan cake, so there’s no having to remove it from a pan or decorate it and it’s so easy to transport to potlucks or get-togethers.
Serve this granny cake after dinner or have it with tea or coffee for breakfast or an easy brunch.
Now let’s talk a little about just some of the ingredients in this granny cake. (The printable list of all ingredients are in the recipe card below.)
Yellow cake mix: This recipe is a cake mix based recipe, which makes it super moist and super easy. It still comes out tasting like it’s from scratch though because you’ll be adding in more ingredients to really take it up a notch.
Eggs, oil and milk: Almost every cake needs these ingredients and this one is no different. These ingredients either add moisture or firm up the cake.
Vanilla extract: I add this to almost every baked good I make. It really adds good flavor to almost any cake flavor.
Crushed pineapple: You’ll need a large can of crushed pineapple for this cake and it doesn’t need to be drained. All that pineapple and juice really makes the cake super moist.
Brown sugar and chopped walnuts or pecans: You’ll actually sprinkle both the brown sugar and chopped nuts on top of the cake instead of mixing them into the batter. It allows them to stay just a little crunchy on the top and gives the cake a nice look.
Butter, evaporated milk, sugar and vanilla: These are the ingredients for the glaze that will be poured over the cake. The glaze gives it a sort of old-fashioned feel and isn’t an overly sweet glaze.
(Make sure to check out the FAQ section below in this post for ingredient and substitution questions.)
How to make this cake:
Let’s talk a little about how to make this granny cake. (The printable instructions are in the recipe card below.)
First, make sure to preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray a 9×13-inch baking pan or dish with nonstick baking spray.
Take a small bowl and add all of the cake ingredients except for the pineapple, brown sugar and nuts and mix with an electric mixer on medium to medium-high speed until well combined.
Add the pineapple, you don’t need to drain it, and stir it in with a large spoon or silicone spatula.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and then sprinkle the brown sugar and chopped nuts all over the batter.
Bake the cake for approximately 33-40 minutes. While the cake is baking, make the glaze.
To make the glaze, grab a small saucepan and add the butter, evaporated milk and granulated sugar. Heat on medium-low heat and make sure to stir frequently until the sugar is dissolved.
Next, heat the glaze to a low boil and simmer for about 2 minutes and stir continuously.
Remove the pan from the heat source and add the vanilla and stir. The glaze will still be a bit thin.
Once the cake is finished baking, remove the cake from the oven and set it on a cooling rack, poke holes into the cake with a skewer and pour the glaze over the hot cake.
Let the cake cool for several hours so that the glaze has enough time to soak into the cake fully and for the cake to firm up.
(Remember that the instructions will also be in the recipe card below.)
Tips & FAQs:
I actually don’t think there’s a good consensus on why it’s called a granny cake. I’ve noticed this recipe in old church cookbooks for years and wondered the same. I can only guess that it’s an easy cake to throw together last minute with items grandma might easily have on hand.
Probably, although I have not tried those flavors of cake mix, I can’t guarantee it will taste the same.
Yes, don’t drain the crushed pineapple.
No, evaporated milk is different than sweetened condensed milk. Make sure to get the evaporated milk.
Yes, the glaze will still be a little thin and that’s okay because it will soak into the cake well that way.
Make sure to let the cake set up for several hours before it’s served as the glaze will need to soak in and the cake will need to cool down and firm up before cutting.
This cake is done baking when a toothpick inserted into the center of it comes out with a few moist crumbs on it or clean, but no raw batter.
I have not tried freezing this cake, but it may work out. If you try it, let the baked cake cool completely, then wrap it in plastic wrap and foil and place it in the freezer for up to a month.
To thaw, place the wrapped cake on the counter at room temperature and let thaw completely, then remove the wrapping.
This cake should be stored, covered well, in the refrigerator and can last up to 5 days.
This cake can be served cold, at room temperature, or warm. If slices are cold, pop into the microwave and heat for about 15 seconds.
Supplies used for this recipe:
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- 13×9 inch baking pan or dish
- Mixing bowls
- Oven mitts
- Cooling racks
- Small saucepan
- Wooden spoon
- Silicone spatula
Easy Granny Cake (with a cake mix)
For the cake:
- 1 (14 ounce) box yellow cake mix
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
For the glaze:
- 1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick) (If you only have unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt.)
- 1 cup evaporated milk (canned milk, not sweetened condensed milk)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 inch baking pan or dish with nonstick baking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, add all of the cake ingredients except for the pineapple, brown sugar and nuts and mix with an electric mixer on medium to medium-high speed until well combined.
- Add the pineapple (undrained) and stir in with a large spoon or silicone spatula.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, then sprinkle the brown sugar and chopped nuts over the batter.
- Bake for approximately 33-40 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs on it, but no raw batter.
- While the cake is baking, make the glaze below.
For the glaze:
- In a small saucepan add the butter, evaporated milk and granulated sugar. Heat on medium-low heat and stir frequently until the sugar is dissolved.
- Heat to a low boil and simmer about 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Make sure to watch closely as it can boil over very quickly. If it starts to do that, pick the pan up off the burner until it calms down a little, then set it back down and turn the heat down a little.
- After simmering for about 2 minutes, remove the pan from the heat source and add the vanilla and stir. The glaze will still be a bit thin, which is fine.
- Set the glaze aside until the cake is done baking.
- Once the cake is baked, remove the cake from the oven and set it on a cooling rack, poke holes into the cake with a skewer and pour the glaze over the hot cake.
- Let the cake cool for several hours so that the glaze has ample time to soak into the cake and for the cake to firm up a little.
- See the notes section for the best ways to store this cake, serve it and answers to more questions.
You can even serve slices of this cake with whipped cream. How to Store: This cake should be stored, covered well, in the refrigerator and can last up to 5 days. How to Serve: This cake can be served cold, room-temperature, or warm. If slices are cold, pop into the microwave and heat for about 15 seconds. For other questions: Make sure to check out the TIPS & FAQs for this recipe in the blog post, which should answer questions you may have about ingredients, substitutions, other pan sizes etc. Nutritional values are an estimate. *This recipe card may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
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