Carrot cake is a classic and also the perfect Easter dessert. To me spring isn’t complete without it. So here you go: you’ve got the recipe just on time to get the festivities started. Be prepared: this recipe is a keeper!
I have been tasting many carrot cake recipes over the years and I am a huge fan of them. They are also my sister’s favorite dessert and even though she never ever bakes (yes I know, it’s hard to believe that we belong to the same family!), I remember that she baked one carrot cake back in the time, and she totally nailed it. And if you have the right recipe, you can’t go wrong with a carrot cake, it’s super easy.
Carrot cakes are a serious thing, and I have started to be a little bit picky about them. They can taste super good, but some are better than others depending on the recipe. Personally, I like them extremely moist, sweet and deliciously flavored with cinnamon, with a cream cheese frosting on top. I used to not like frosting on cakes at all, but now I could not even imagine a carrot cake without frosting. In my world, they have to come along together (same thing with my to die for beetroot cake, it has to come along with a frosting – have you tried it yet?)!
But let’s go back to the carrot cake recipe itself. I discovered they were actually many different variations, and some of them adding ingredients I had no idea we could find in a carrot cake. Focusing on both the consistency that I want really moist and the flavors in the cake, I finally found the very best recipe, according to me but not only. When doing a little benchmark around, I noticed that each time someone mentioned his or her best carrot cake ever, it had these magic ingredients.
So what are these magic ingredients and what do they really add to the recipe? First of all, I love buttermilk in my cake recipes, it is a magical trick to get the perfectly moist texture. So I went for buttermilk in my carrot cake recipe and guess what: it worked again!
Then I noticed that in many different favorite carrot cake recipes they were some pineapple and coconut. I have to say I was a little bit suspicious, since I had no idea we could use them in a carrot cake, especially the pineapple (as an excuse to myself, I was not born in USA)… After some research, I learned that carrots and pineapple actually work together to keep the cake moist, while pineapple also adds some freshness to the cake.
To this very moist texture, you also add some crunchiness thanks to the flavorful pecan nuts (they are a favorite of mine, as you probably noticed on the blog already!), and a wonderful cream cheese frosting that cuts off the sweetness of the cake a little bit. In the end, you get with this recipe a super moist, flavorful and perfectly spiced carrot cake.
I hope you will have a nice Easter celebration with your family and/or friends, with lots of chocolate (make your own chocolate mousse filled eggs with cinnamon fingers, the perfect DIY with your kids), and plenty of eggs in the garden. Happy Easter everyone!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- ¾ cup buttermilk (or homemade buttermilk: 1 tsp lemon + until ¾ cup milk)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups grated carrot
- 1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple, drained
- 1⅛ cup (3 oz) coconut flakes
- 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- 1 cup (224g) cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- ½ cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 2 - 2.5 cup (240 - 300g) icing sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ⅛ tsp salt
- Pecan nuts
- Line a 11 inch (26 cm) round cake pans with a parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium size bowl, stir together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon).
- In a large bowl, beat eggs, sugars, oil and buttermilk together at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Note that you can make your own buttermilk: add one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice in a cup and fill with milk until ¾ of the cup. Stir well and let set for 5 minutes before using it.
- Add flour mixture, beating on low speed until blended.
- Fold in grated carrots, crushed pineapple, coconut flakes and chopped walnuts/pecan.
- Pour the batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 30-40 mins at 350 F (180 C), or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
- In the meantime, prepare the cream cheese frosting: beat the softened cream cheese and butter together on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until soft, creamy and combined thoroughly. Add icing sugar, and beat until thick and combined. Add heavy cream and vanilla extract, and beat on medium speed for 2 more minutes. Add more icing sugar until desired thickness is reached. Add salt to taste and cut the sweetness. Store in the refrigerator until using.
- Let the cake cool completely before spreading the cream cheese frosting on top and sides.
- Decorate with pecan nuts and crushed pecan nuts.
- Store the cake in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.