I have a not-so-cherished memory of elementary school lunches with so-called carrot salad, which was basically sliced carrots and raisins in some kind of vinegar. I was not terribly picky about school lunch, but this…. Just no. It was perhaps why decades passed before I ever considered making a carrot cake, let alone an Incredible Carrot Cake.Jump to Recipe
Resistance is Futile
My husband has long enjoyed carrot cake as a birthday tradition; thus began my journey with carrot cake. At first, I grabbed a boxed mix. The cakes were ok, but … meh. I had hoped this carrot cake thing was a phase that everyone would grow out of, but it was clearly not, so I accepted and adapted. Speaking of adaptation, this year I adapted The BEST Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting to create a recipe worthy of a lasting family tradition. Incredible Carrot Cake may just be the recipe that gets passed through generations of this carrot cake loving family.
The Ancestry of Carrot Cake
British, French and Swiss claim to be the originators of carrot cake, but the exact origins are unclear. The cake appears to have descended from carrot puddings dating back to the Middle Ages. Check out the timeline for carrot cake, which includes recipes for various ancestral variations. More recipes can be found here, including Mary Berry’s (hello, fellow Great British Baking Show binge-watchers) Carrot and Banana Cake.
About Incredible Carrot Cake
The flavor and texture of this cake are lovely. And it’s surprisingly easy to make considering all of the steps. If you can’t get green raisins, use golden ones. I prefer unsweetened, organic coconut flakes; use unsweetened coconut if at all possible. The pecans not only add flair to the icing but to the flavor of the cake. You can substitute almonds if desired or forego altogether. I add a touch of tawny port to add even more flavor, but this is optional. Incredible Carrot Cake is fabulous on its own, with a cup of coffee or glass of milk, and even better with a scoop of ice cream.
“‘Have I gone mad?’ ‘I’m afraid so! You’re entirely bonkers! but I’ll tell you a secret ….. All the best people are!’” ― Lewis Carroll
Incredible Carrot Cake
- 2 C all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp salt
- 4 eggs
- 1 ½ C brown sugar
- ½ C sugar
- ½ C unsweetened apple sauce
- ¾ C vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 TBSP tawny port
- 1 TBSP green raisins
- 1 TBSP gold raisins
- 2 TBSP grated coconut
- 3 C julienne carrots
- 8 oz cream cheese
- ½ C butter softened
- 2 C powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp tawny port optional
- ½ to ½ C pecans chopped
- 8 to 10 whole pecan halves
- ¼ C coconut flakes (approximately)
- Grease and flour two nine-inch cake pans (for cupcakes, use cupcake liners in standard muffin pan). Line with parchment paper for easier release. Preheat oven to 350° F.
- In large bowl, combine and whisk or stir together the first six dry ingredients.
- In separate mixing bowl, whisk or stir together the next seven ingredients.
- Add the carrots, raisins and coconut to the wet mix.
- Carefully fold and blend the dry and wet mix and stir together.
- Pour batter into cake pan(s) and bake 30-35 minutes (35-45 for 9×13 or 10×10 and 20-25 for cupcakes) until wooden pick comes out clean.
- Cool on baking rack and remove from pans.
- For frosting, pull out cheese and butter and let reach room temperature. Beat the cheese until smooth, then add butter and mix well. Add in powdered sugar, vanilla and port and mix until fully combined and smooth.
- Spread over cake or cupcakes. If making 2-layer cake, level the first cake, ice the top, add the second cake and ice whole cake.
- Sprinkle coconut flakes over the entire top of the cake. Sprinkle pecans in desired pattern and add whole pecans to design.