Carrot cake and Easter seem to go hand in hand. We have a great, easy carrot sheet cake in our first cookbook that we love, but this is the carrot cake for celebrations and also for murder by sugar. This is my friend Jeni’s (who I always seem to be stealing recipes from) trademark cake, and it comes from my all-time favorite all-purpose cookbook. If you’re thinking, “Ooh, carrot cake is healthy, What to Expect the First Year told me to make it for my baby’s first birthday,” this is definitely not that cake. It is to cake what Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs are to eggs. But it’s definitely worth it.
You’ll need your typical cake-making ingredients–flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk. Then you’ll need cinnamon, carrots, crushed pineapple, pecans (if desired), and coconut. And butter. And we haven’t even gotten to the frosting. Or the buttermilk glaze.
Preheat your oven to 350. Grease and flour 2 9″ round pans and set aside.
Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Combine eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk,
and vanilla in a large bowl and beat at medium speed until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Fold in the carrots
and then fold in the pineapple,
and pecans (if using).
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans and then bake for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Now this is where things get crazy. You know our buttermilk syrup? Yeah, we’re pretty much going to drizzle a slightly undercooked version of that all over the cakes. While the cakes are baking, combine the buttermilk glaze ingredients (the recipe is below) in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 4 minutes, stirring constantly, until the syrup is light golden. Remove from heat and set aside.
When the cakes are done baking, remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Drizzle the warm buttermilk glaze over the cakes and allow the cakes to cool completely (I actually recommend popping these in the fridge and letting them chill after they’ve cooled so the cake is easier to frost).
To make the frosting, you’ll need butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla. You can also add a little almond extract if you like it. Which I do.
Beat together the softened cream cheese, butter, and extracts. Add 3/4 lb. of powdered sugar and then test the frosting–if you like it sweeter and softer, add a little more, but I really like a pronounced cream cheese flavor, so I go easy on the sugar.
Tear four thin strips of wax paper or aluminum foil and form a square on the plate that you’ll be serving the cake on. Carefully remove one of the cakes from the pan and place it on top of the strips.
Gently ice the top of the cake layer and then top with the second layer. Ice the cake completely with remaining frosting. Decorate with extra coconut and pecans if desired.
I desire it because I’m a horrible cake decorator and it hides all my mistakes.
For best presentation, it’s better to refrigerate the cake overnight and then let it return to room temperature before serving.
This dense, rich, old-fashioned carrot cake recipe is perfect for any springtime celebration (or, really, anytime!)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons table salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cup grated carrot
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
2/3 cup coconut
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted (optional)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 pound powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease and flour 2 9″ cake pans. Set aside.
Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla on high speed until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined. Fold in the carrots. Fold in the pineapple, coconut, and pecans (if using). Divide the batter evenly among the pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a pick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
While the cakes are baking, prepare the buttermilk glaze. Drizzle the glaze over the warm cakes and then cool the cakes completely on a wire rack. When the cakes are cool, tear four thin strips of parchment or wax paper or aluminum foil and make a square on the serving plate. Place one layer on top of the square. Prepare the cream cheese frosting and spread some frosting on the bottom layer of the cake. Place another layer on top of the frosted layer. Frost the entire cake with cream cheese frosting and decorate with coconut and chopped pecans if desired. For best presentation, refrigerate overnight before serving.
This cake has many steps and can be overwhelming to make all at once. The cake layers can be made in advance and refrigerated or frozen (in the pan, with the buttermilk glaze) before icing the cake.