Carrot Cake is my all-time favorite dessert in the world- it was even my wedding cake! I love all the textures and flavors, and would really be happy eating it every day of my life. Everyone has their preferred way of making it- with or without nuts, raisins, pineapple, coconut, etc. After many trials and tastes, below is my version of the ultimate carrot cake! It's a denser cake that's full of tasty ingredients. I love the depth of flavor that toasted nuts & coconut add to this cake, along with spices like cinnamon & nutmeg. I wouldn’t call it a tropical carrot cake though, because you definitely won’t find pineapple in my version! Rolled oats add a nice textural component, but you may also sub out another type of flour (all-purpose works fine) if you prefer. I’m not the biggest fan of cream cheese, but I do enjoy the tangy flavor it lends to frosting in carrot cake. Alternatively, I’ve made a coconut cream cheese frosting using both coconut cream & cream cheese, making it a bit lighter & fluffier, but still creamy & delicious! If you use vegan cream cheese (or leave it out altogether), this cake is also entirely vegan & full of healthy ingredients like carrots, applesauce, nuts, and coconut oil, so feel free to indulge as much as you please! PS- I'm by no means a pastry chef, and am still learning ow to nicely decorate a cake in that perfectly precise way. Thanks to my husband for lending his technical skills!
Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 cup coconut palm sugar
- 2 cups unsweetened applesauce
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups carrots, shredded (plus extra for topping)
- 1 cup pecans, toasted & chopped (plus extra for topping)
- 3/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted (plus extra for topping)
- 2 cans coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
- 6 oz. cream cheese
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray two 9” cake pans with non stick spray, line them with parchment paper, and then spray the parchment paper.
Make the coconut cream cheese frosting first. Remove the coconut milk from the refrigerator, and turn upside down. Open cans from the bottom, pour out the coconut liquid (save for smoothies!), and scoop out the solid coconut cream. Add to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk, along with cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. Whip the cream, starting slowly at first & gradually increasing your speed, until it’s nice and fluffy. Move frosting to an airtight container, and refrigerate to allow it to set.
Sift all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Combine wet ingredients in another bowl (oil to vanilla), then add the two together until just combined. Fold in carrots, pecans & coconut last. Pour the cakes into pans, and bake for about 30 minutes. Allow cakes to cool a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack.
Once the cakes have fully cooled, you may even them out by removing any domed shape on top (this will allow them to stack more evenly). Place one cake on a cake stand, add a layer of frosting, then stack the second cake on top. Add a thin, “crumb layer” of frosting over the entire cake, then allow it to chill for 30 minutes to set. Now apply a thicker layer of frosting over the entire cake. Top with remaining carrots, pecans & coconut as desired. Slice and enjoy!
*Can be made with three 6” round cake pans to create a 3-layer cake. Increase baking time to about 35-38 minutes.
**Adapted from Carrot Cake in Skinny Bitch in the Kitch.