I made this cake for my friend at work to surprise her for her birthday this past week. She and I actually started our new job on the same day and we were lucky enough to hit it off from the start. It seems as though food is always a good topic of conversation when you are getting to know someone….I mean we all eat. Early on I found out her favorite cake in the whole wide world is carrot cake so the choice was an easy one. I was a bit nervous about it as she has eaten plenty of carrot cakes in her life….what if mine didn’t meet her expectations? Well, luckily it did….she said it was one of the best carrot cakes she has had in a long time. This is good being that she has been eating carrot cake for her birthday for several years!
Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home To Yours
For the cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3 cups grated carrots
- 2 cups chopped walnuts (toasted)
- 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup canola oil
- 4 large eggs
- 8 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the frosting:
- 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 pound (3 1/4 cups) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Getting ready: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter three 9-x-2 inch round cake pans, flour the insides and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.
To make the cake: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, 1 cup of the chopped nuts and coconut. Working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the sugar and oil together on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one, and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Beat in the vanilla and the crushed pineapple.
Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix in the chunky ingredients and then divide the batter among the baking pans. Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers come out clean; the cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.
To make the frosting: Working with the stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice.
To assemble the cake: Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. Cover the first layer generously with the frosting and smooth all the way out to the edges. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake top side down and smooth on a layer of the frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top and sides of the cake. Top the cake with the remaining 1 cup of nuts. Refrigerate the cake for 30 min, just to set the frosting before serving.