Diane, A Broad
December 5, 2012

That Carrot Cake

You know how I can tell I’m an adult? I wanted carrot cake for my birthday.

Carrot Cakes with pink roses.

Not just any carrot cake. That Carrot Cake. I received the recipe for That Carrot Cake from a friend during college. He’d gotten it from his mom, who’d gotten it from a neighbor, who’d gotten it from her aunt, etc. etc. etc. I ended up passing it on to HR Director at work a year or so ago, and now I’m passing it on to you.


It’s That Carrot Cake because I’ve been fiddling with the ratios in this recipe for years and years, and I’ve got the balance of moisture level and cinnamon batter flavor and carrot/walnut/coconut bits just right; that is, exactly how I like it. The original recipe came from a friend, but now it’s mine.

Pink roses.

That Carrot Cake is so moist that it’s hard to ice; little moist chunks and crumbs keep wanting to fall off. Now I don’t even try to ice the whole thing — just a slip of frosting between each layer will do, and perhaps a light layer around the outside if you’ve got some extra.

Carrot cakes with tiny blue flags.

That Carrot Cake has so much walnut in it that it might as well be called a walnut cake. The carrots are both shredded and grated, so that some smaller pieces melt into the batter while other, larger pieces hang around like flakes of carrot confetti. A good amount of coconut provides more chewy texture. Oh, and there’s pineapple in there. You don’t taste it, and I have no idea how it works, but that pineapple might be the secret ingredient that brings it all together, with just enough batter to hold everything in one piece.

That Carrot Cake

Makes 1 9×13-inch sheet cake, 3 8-inch round cakes, 24 cupcakes, etc.

butter and flour for pan(s)
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup carrots, shredded on large holes of box grater
1 cup carrots, grated on small holes of box grater
1 cup fresh pineapple OR 1 8oz can of crushed pineapple with juice, undrained
1 1/2 cups chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut


Heat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter and flour your cake pan(s). If desired, you can line your cake pan(s) with parchment paper as well for cleaner release.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract and stir until uniform. Add the dry ingredients to this mixture and mix well.

If using fresh pineapple, chop up the pineapple very fine, reserving any juice that is released from the fruit from the chopping, and add 1 cup of the chopped pineapple and accumulated juices to the batter. If using canned pineapple, just add the whole can to the batter, including juice.

Add both kinds of carrot, the toasted chopped walnuts, and coconut to the batter. Stir everything together and pour into your pan(s), dividing the batter up evenly if using smaller pans.

Bake for 50-55 minutes for a 9×13-inch pan, 35-40 minutes for two 8-inch pans, and about 25-30 minutes for cupcakes, or until a toothpick poked into the center of a cake comes out clean. Cool completely before unmolding from pan(s).

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

1 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt


Place the cream cheese in a medium-sized bowl and cream for 1 minute with a hand-held mixer or electric mixer, until the cream cheese is fluffy and smooth. Add the butter and continue creaming with the cream cheese for another minute or so until completely incorporated with the cream cheese. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt and cream for another 3-4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Carrot layer cake.

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3 responses to “That Carrot Cake”

  1. I’ve never considered not icing the outside of a cake before, but always think its so beautiful in its just icing in the middle, piled up high state. I will have to try this! Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Susan says:

    My mother was shocked when I asked for carrot cake for my birthday this year…

    Truly the mark of an adult.

  3. This carrot cake sounds so different from the others out there. I love that it has bigger pieces of carrot in it, because sometimes carrot cake just tastes like spice cake.

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