So I know, every good cook has a recipe for carrot cake. But does every good cook have a “killer” recipe for carrot cake. (There is a difference you know!) I consider this recipe, which I have been preparing since a few of you were only glimmers in your father’s eyes, the most moist and delicious vegetative cake that I have ever had the pleasure of taking out of my oven. But one thing I must warn you about, besides of course the tendency to become addicted to it, is that this cake only reaches its full potential after it has been frozen. It really needs to spend a short time in your freezer to attain the moist consistency all of us treasure in a truly wonderful carrot cake.
Now I know that statement sounds preposterous. But if you have read any of my other recipes for cakes or breads that contain fruit or veggies, I almost always recommend a short resting period in your freezer as the best way to ensure perfection. (And no, I didn’t learn this trick from my many years studying at Le Cordon Bleu. I learned it from my dear friend Linda’s mother Rhoda. And to the best of my knowledge, Rhoda didn’t learn this trick from her years at Le Cordon Bleu either! (Like either of us ever attended any cooking school, much less Le Condon Bleu!) We both perfected our culinary skills in the school of “what’s for dinner, mom”?
But you truly can’t appreciate this cake until you have sunk a fork down through the not-too-sweet frosting and into the moist and tender crumb of this cake. When it reaches your mouth, you not only have the wonderful mouth feel, you have the depth of flavor from the spices, golden raisins that have simmered in pineapple juice, the toasted coconut, and the lovely tasty crunch from the toasted walnuts.
I am not going to tell you that this cake comes together in 30 minutes, because it absolutely does not. You have to simmer the raisins, toast the coconut and walnuts, grate the carrots, and mix the batter, etc. But, if you want to create a cake that has all the characteristics of that perfect carrot cake that you long for every time you see it on a menu, you have to spend the time and do it right. Of course you can always go to your favorite restaurant or bakery and pay through the teeth for just one piece. Or you can set aside a bit of time and make yourself a treat that can be shared with your family and friends for a fraction of the cost. Of course the advantage of making this cake rather than just buying a piece, is that you get to have seconds. And who in their right mind doesn’t want a second piece of carrot cake, especially around midnight or with their morning coffee?
So do yourself and your family a favor. Make one of these cakes for your next birthday celebration, or as a treat for your family and guests after your next dinner party. Remember, you really need to bake the cake ahead of time, freeze it, and then frost it the day you plan to serve it for dessert. So the hard work is all done ahead of time. That leaves you with plenty of time the day of your get-together to concentrate on the other dishes you are planning to serve. And isn’t that a plus?
So enjoy my friends. And always remember to eat your veggies!
- 8 oz. crushed pineapple
- 1 c. golden raisins
- 2 c. granulated sugar
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 c. vegetable oil
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 c. grated carrots
- 1½ c. toasted chopped walnuts, divided
- 1½ c. toasted coconut, divided
- 2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground mace
- ¼ tsp. ground cloves
- ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
Drain the pineapple juice into a small saucepan. Set pineapple aside. Add raisins to the juice and bring to a simmer over low heat. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl cream the sugar, eggs, and oil together with a whisk. (No mixer needed for this recipe.) Add the vanilla, carrots, 1 cup of the toasted walnuts, 1 cup of the toasted coconut, the reserved pineapple, and the cooled raisins.
In another bowl whisk together the flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, mace, cloves, and nutmeg. Stir flour mixture into the carrot mixture just until thoroughly blended.
Pour into a lightly buttered and floured 9×13-inch glass baking dish. Bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes or until a pick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place pan on a wire rack. Cool completely before covering with plastic wrap and placing in the freezer for no shorter time than 2 days. (I warned you in my introduction!)
The day you plan to serve the cake, remove from freezer and allow to come to room temperature.
Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below) and garnish with remaining half cup of coconut and half cup of walnuts.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- ½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- pinch salt
- 3½ c. powdered sugar or more if needed
Cream butter and powdered sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, salt, and enough powdered sugar to make a firm but not stiff consistency. Beat until smooth and easy to spread. Spread evenly over cake. Garnish with remaining half cup coconut and half cup walnuts.