Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I love carrot cake. Of all the non-chocolate cakes, it's probably my favorite one. When Hungry Bear gave me the choice between carrot cake and chocolate turtle cake, I still chose the carrot cake. I wanted to keep it uncomplicated this past Sunday night, and what's better than a simple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting?

Hungry Bear used a recipe from an old roommate, Roz. You know, the kind of recipe that's written on an index card and handed down. The cake contains pineapples and coconut flakes, which we both enjoy in our carrot cake. Hungry Bear mentioned Cook's Illustrated (CI) pooh poohed the use of canned crushed pineapples, toasted coconut and wheat germ in The New Best Recipes. In fact, they were "unanimously voted out", but CI approved raisins and nuts as options... um, no thanks. I love Cook's Illustrated, but sometimes their decisions seem completely arbitrary. With all due respect to CI, Hungry Bear and I unanimously voted pineapples and coconut flakes back in!

The carrot cake was fantastic. It was relatively light, tender and moist, but not soggy. And then there's the cream cheese frosting. I think it speaks for itself. I knew the cake was good when our friend, Jane, had two servings of dessert, which she never does. Or it just could be, she's eating for two now, congrats Jane and Mark! We like to believe the cake was really good.

Since the carrot cake is fresh on our minds and palates, I'm going to make a light carrot cake based on a Cook's Illustrated recipe this weekend. We'll see how it compares to the full fat version. And yes, crushed pineapples and coconut flakes will be included!

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

SND Note: The parchment paper in step 1 is optional. It will make it easier to remove from the pan and the presentation may be a bit nicer. If you're fine with icing the cake in the pan just skip the parchment and greasing. The frosting is on the sweet side, so reduce the amount of confectioners' sugar to taste. When the cake is frosted only on top, we use only half the frosting. The recipe calls for 8 ounces of crushed pineapple, but Hungry Bear used 12 ounces, which she thinks is a better amount.

Carrot Cake Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups carrots (4-5 medium carrots), peeled
  • 8 ounces crushed pineapple, lightly drained
  • 3 1/2 ounces coconut flakes
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened but still cool
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) butter, softened but still cool
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 16 ounces confectioners' sugar
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13 by 9-inch baking pan with vegetable oil. Line bottom of pan with parchment and oil.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; set aside.
  3. Shred carrots using small holes of box grater; set aside. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or in large bowl and using hand-held mixer), beat eggs, granulated and brown sugars on medium-high until thoroughly combined, about 45 seconds. Reduce speed to low; with mixer running, add oil in slow, steady stream. Increase speed to high and mix until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 45 to 60 seconds longer.
  4. On low speed, add the dry ingredients until just combined. By hand stir in the carrots, pineapple and coconut until well combined. Pour into cake pan and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. On a wire rack, cool cake to room temperature in pan, about 1-2 hours.
  5. Mix cream cheese, butter, and vanilla at medium high speed in clean bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment ( or in large bowl using handheld mixer) until well combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until very fluffy, about 1 minute.
  6. Run paring knife around edge of cake to loosen from pan. Invert cake onto wire rack, peel off parchment, then invert again onto serving platter. Using icing spatula, spread frosting evenly over surface of cake. Cut into squares and serve.

Makes one 13 by 9-inch cake

[Directions adapted from Cook's Illustrated]

[tags]carrot, cake, pineapple, coconut, cream cheese, frosting, nutmeg, cinnamon[/tags]

20 Comments on “Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. a. grace said:

    oh, how i love carrot cake. well, to be honest, i think i love it so much because it’s an excuse to eat copious amounts of cream cheese frosting. my version of your cake (coconut and pineapple definitely included!) would have twice as much frosting… :)

  2. vanessa said:

    i fell asleep last night thinking that i would love to make a carrot cake, which is a cake i never, ever make. and i wake up this morning to find a sign from the universe telling me to bake carrot cake! it looks lovely. can’t wait to give it a go.

  3. I love carrot cake. This is almost exactly my recipe except I use less sugar and oil. Just up the crushed pineapple to replace the oil and you won’t notice a difference. Mmm. Carrot cake and cream cheese frosting.

  4. Erin said:

    That is a seriously hot looking piece of cake! Bravo! And parchment paper is so a cook’s best friend.

  5. Chuck said:

    a. grace, nothing beats cream cheese frosting, well maybe a chocolate ganache frosting, but nothing else!

    Vanessa, I don’t know what other signs you need. It’s time to bake a carrot cake.

    WC, my light carrot cake version is going to use a lot less oil, so I’m going to up the pineapple quantity. I’m hoping it’s as good as this recipe.

    Erin, thanks! I love parchment, but wished it would come in pre-cut circles. My parchment circles are never very circular, ha!

  6. brilynn said:

    I love all the carrot cakes that are popping up around this time of year, I need to make one too, this looks fantastic!

  7. Amy said:

    Haha CI is a little snooty about their recipes sometimes but this looks delish, I would have to unanimously vote in the pineapple and coconut as well. :)

  8. Jennie said:

    Carrot cake is by far one of my favorite cakes. Using local, just-harvested carrots from the farmers market adds a whole new depth to the flavor. I also like to use a mix of dried fruit in mine: even sometimes dried cherries and blueberries! It’s fun! So I’m totally with you on voting back in the coconut and pineapple.

    Here’s my standard recipe if you’re curious: http://straightfromthefarm.wor.....ts-up-doc/

  9. michelle said:

    I just came across your blog and just wanted to say its one of the nicest food blogs I have come across, your recipes look delicious, your photos are mouth watering and I cant wait to try them.

  10. Christine said:

    Carrot Cake is also one of my favortes – it’s got it all – some spice, soft, most texture, and cream cheese. The addition of pineapple and coconut reminds of hummingbird cake.

  11. Love carrot cake!

    What do you know? Great tummies must think alike, eh?

    We baked a carrot cake a couple of weeks ago (posted today: http://eatingclubvancouver.blo.....-cake.html) and are looking forward to bake it again!

    It was quite delicious and I’m not usually a fan of any cake.

    Am enjoying your blog very much. I especially love the Vietnamese recipes. Vietnamese food is one of my favourites.

  12. Chuck, this recipe is a total winner. I cannot imagine a carrot cake without those yummy tropical ingredients , coconut and pineapple!

    I ‘m going to try this one though I usually don’t bake cakes.

  13. southerngems said:

    I love carrot cake! I will definitely try this recipe!

  14. Cyndi said:

    No nuts or raisins? And who would want to make a carrot cake without the pineapple and coconut?? All four of those ingredients are always in my carrot cakes, and carrot salad.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  15. koralia said:

    hello! this cake looks so nice! i have never tried carrot cake but this is making me think that i am missing out on something nice! what is cream cheese frosting by the way? bye!

  16. CakeLover said:

    Everytime I make this cake I am asked for recipe. Brilliant and easy. Yum!

  17. wei li said:

    hi! just wondering, would it be okay to leave out the crushed pineapple and the coconut at the end?
    And my baking tray is dark in colour unlike yours, would it be okay to bake it at the same temperature and time?


  18. Sarah said:

    CAN TASTE THE OIL! Yuck! A great cake recipe ruined by copious amounts of oil. I bake all the time and made sure to emulsify it but it has an oily aftertaste. I even took 1/2 a cup out and put in more pineapple. I’ll reduce it even more next time. I did use vegetable oil incase you were wondering. It was very moist and fluffy in texture though. It just needs some adjusting with the oil. xx

  19. Steve said:

    Great cake! It just keeps collapsing on me. What am i doing wrong. I follow the recepie to the letter. Can anyone help me please?

  20. LInda said:

    which is the best cream chees to use for carrot cake, i have a really good rceipe for the cake but the icing always turn out to soft almost runny ,i follow the instructions exactly.

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