Right up there behind Red Velvet Cake, carrot cake is my absolute favorite cake. Maybe it’s the bunny, or the season, but I typically make this in the spring for Easter gatherings. I mean, it’s a completely decadent, lusciously moist cake that is rich, spicy, and because it’s – hello, made with carrots – a vegetable! – I feel slightly better when eating a slice. However when you consider the world’s best cream cheese frosting on top, there is literally, no better combination.

I prefer this version of carrot cake, which includes coconut and crushed pineapples as well as walnuts. If you have aversions to nuts or allergies, you of course can leave this out.

Southern Carrot Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots (about 3 to 4 medium carrots)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 can (8 ounces) well drained crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, divide

In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients; stir to blend. Add eggs, oil, shredded carrots, and vanilla; beat until well blended. Stir in pineapple, coconut, and 1/2 cup of the walnuts. Pour into a greased and floured 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake at 350° for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Place cake in pan on a rack to cool. Frost the cooled cake with cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with remaining chopped nuts, pressing into the frosting very lightly.

I typically prepare carrot cakes in a layers as the frosting is so dang good. It just screams to be inside that cake. I prefer a modern square pan to circles, but it is totally a preference.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes a double batch, so you may have extra.

  • 2 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 teaspoon orange juice
  • 1.5  teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
  • 8 cups confectioners’ sugar

Cream together the cream cheese, orange juice, orange zest, and orange extract.  Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth and creamy.  Frost bottom layer, assemble top layer, and frost overall cake.