Yesterday was National Carrot Cake Day, so of course we had to celebrate by eating it for breakfast. And as an afternoon snack.
This carrot cake recipe is so delicious: it’s what my husband and my oldest have asked for as their birthday cakes for the past few years.
And while the combination of ingredients make it incredible (carrots, applesauce, coconut, pineapple), it’s the one thing that I stumbled on to by mistake that takes this over the top. Don’t worry- it’s really easy.
You’ll have this carrot cake batter mixed and ready before your oven has even had a chance to preheat- that’s how easily it comes together.
For the cake:
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/4 cup applesauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 cups grated carrots*
- 1 cup crushed pineapple (do not drain)
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
*I usually grate the carrots myself but I realized the other day that I’d broken my grater last month, too violently grating some cheese. A trip to go get a new one wasn’t in my plans, so I bought the bag of carrots already shredded. They’re thicker that way. Which really doesn’t make all the much of a difference either way, though my kids noticed them more like this. Still delicious, either way.
For the frosting:
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 pound powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350. You can also prepare your pans for baking now: grease 2 8 inch round cake pans (I used 8.5 inch because that’s what I have)
- In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, sugar, applesauce, and vanilla. You’re handmixing all of this- save your mixer for the frosting.
- Add the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and stir to combine.
- Add the carrots, pineapple, coconut, and walnuts and stir to combine.
- Pour mixture into the cake pans (I use a half cup measuring cup and measure it out between the two so they’re about the same. I always say that I’ll remember what half of the mixture is, but I never actually do it)
- Bake for 40-45 minutes (I used the toothpick test to test for doneness- insert toothpick in the middle and if it comes out clean, it’s done)
- Here’s the secret to the best carrot cake: Put the cakes in closed containers to allow to cool. I use a cake carrier and a pie carrier. The steam from the cakes gets trapped in there and the moisture goes right back into the cake, giving it the most amazing texture. I did this once because I was baking the cake at night and frosting it in the morning and I didn’t want to just leave the cakes sitting out since I figured my family would cut right into them if they were just out. But it really does make all the difference. It’s still good if you don’t do this, but it’s the best carrot cake if you do!
- Beat the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until fluffy. It took a few minutes on medium speed.
- Slowly add the powdered sugar and continue beating until smooth. This took several minutes- you really want it to get smooth, otherwise there’s a little bit of a gritty texture, so have patience.
- Frost the cake and then eat any leftover frosting with your fingers because it’s so delicious. Or don’t, but no judgement here if you do.