Apparently carrot cake is something people get very contentious about. The list of items that people feel quite strongly should or shouldn’t be included in a carrot cake is substantial: pineapple, coconut, raisins, nuts. So let me be very clear: this is my personal favorite style of carrot cake, I’m not trying to define this as THE way to bake carrot cake but I will certainly assert that this is a very delicious recipe (if you’re not too offended by the ingredient list).
Carrot cake is probably my favorite cake and I’m very picky about its flavor and texture. My recipe includes crushed pineapple, shredded coconut, and raisins with a chopped walnut and cream cheese frosting. These ingredients GUARANTEE a highly moist, dense cake with a ton of texture. There’s a healthy amount of spices for a rich, deep flavor, and a lot of fresh carrot, more than I’ve found in most recipes.
I prefer my desserts less on the sugary side, so I prefer a carrot cake with a cream cheese frosting that isn’t too sweet. This frosting recipe has more cream cheese and butter, and less of the powdered sugar, which means it has a definitive cream cheese tang to balance the sweetness and complement the spice of the cake.
Basically this recipe is awesome and you should make it. I think carrot cake tastes best the next day after kept chilled, which makes it perfect for a make-ahead recipe. In the recipe notes I’m included options for different baking formats and icing styles. This is a really fun recipe to make with kids because you can have them “help” measure, scoop, and pour so many ingredients, and stir it all together without a stand mixer. Even spreading the frosting can be a kid’s job – we’re not so fussy with this cake!Print
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tbs baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cups finely grated carrots, about 6 large carrots
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 3/4 cup crushed pineapple
- 1.5 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1.5 cups vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1.5 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 12 oz cream cheese, room temp
- 8 tbs butter, room temp
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup finely chopped walnuts for decorating
- Preheat the oven to 350 and grease two 9″ cake rounds.
- Mix all the wet ingredients in a large bowl.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients in another bowl, holding back the raisins and coconuts.
- Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined – don’t over mix this.
- Add the raisins and carrots and just stir to spread evenly.
- Pour the mixture into the cake pans and baked for 30-35 minutes, you’re looking for the edges to start to pull away from the sides and a toothpick to come out clean. My oven is done in 30 minutes, so start checking right at 30.
- Remove from cake tins and allow to fully cool before icing.
- For the icing, beat together the cream cheese and butter until completely smooth.
- Slowly add the sugar until it is fully mixed and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
- Ice your cake!
- If you prefer thinner cake layers and a higher stack, you could slice each 9″ round in half for a total of four layers. Double the frosting if you plan to go this route.
- If you hate putting together a stacked cake, go the sheet cake route and bake this in a 9×13 pan with a single layer of frosting to top. Cut it into squares and serve.
- This cake is delicious chilled, and stores very well. You could make this a day ahead and store, covered, in the fridge until serving.
- If you like a lot of frosting, I’d suggest scaling up the icing recipe by 1/4. This makes just enough for a thin center layer and icing the top and sides. If you want a larger volume in between the two layers, bump it up to around 15 ounces cream cheese, 10 TBS butter, 2 1/4 cup confectioners sugar.