Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Washington State Fair Best Cake
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting: this luscious layer cake features finely shredded fresh carrots, crushed pineapple, melted butter, eggs, and a few pantry staples in its batter. Once baked, you layer and frost it with a rich cream cheese/pineapple frosting. Chopped pecans add to its tastiness and texture.
This is it people…the carrot cake that won me over. It literally taught me to LOVE carrot cake.
Bad vs. Good
Can you believe I never liked it? The truth is, my previous experience (nightmare?) with carrot cake was one bite. I tasted one hunk of an over-baked sheet cake when I was a kid. Turns out there were bitter bits in it too: flour not fully mixed in, and maybe rancid walnuts?! One bit of yuck! After that, for a dessert, I would almost always opt for chocolate cake, a lemon bar, or anything else.
One taste of this carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and I totally changed my tune. It’s dense but completely moist, and the cream cheese frosting is to die for! It was so easy to bake and I loved the creamy look of the batter just before mixing in the pineapple and carrots.
I brought the entire thing (minus my generous slice of course) to friends. Not to brag, but one said it was the best carrot cake he ever tasted. (Thanks Henry!) Another, just widened his eyes and said, “WOW!” (Thanks Jeffrey!) OK, yes, I am bragging, but that’s not the point =). This cake is something you definitely need to try at home!
Championship Cake Award Winner
This cake is another all-time favorite recipe from our archives. It’s based on a 1999 1st place winning recipe the Washington State Fair. Blue ribbon bragging rights went to Mark Yamamoto of Seattle. He won a Championship Cake Award for it. Thank you MARK! Funny thing, 1999 was my first ever year managing a recipe contest and its PR. The Washington State Fair was then known as Puyallup Fair or the Western Washington Fair. In fact, locals still call it the Puyallup Fair. You know this recipe is good if it has been a favorite of ours for over 20 years! If you’re loving these “oldies but goodies” recipes, be sure to try another 1999 winner from our archives, this Mounds of Joy Cake, another championship cake award winner.
When I did our recipe test run for this crazy-good carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, I adjusted only a few ingredients. I opted for sifted all-purpose flour versus cake flour, added pecans, left out the raisins, and decreased the pineapple just a bit. Mark held back his cream cheese frosting recipe, so I added my own here.
As soon as you make this, you’ll have a winner on your hands too! Enjoy!
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (about 10 ounces)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs, beaten
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, divided
3 cups finely grated carrots (12 ounces)
Cream Cheese Frosting:
3 tablespoons crushed pineapple (from can)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add sugar, butter, vanilla, and eggs. Mix well. In large bowl, set aside 3 tablespoons of the pineapple (for the cream cheese frosting). Drain the remaining pineapple well, reserving the juice. Add the crushed pineapple and carrots to batter. Mix well. Generously grease and flour two 9-inch round layer cake pans. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Bake 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before carefully removing them from the pans.
Add the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla to the bowl with the 3 tablespoons reserved crushed pineapple. Mix well, then blend in the powdered sugar. While mixing, add small amounts of reserved pineapple juice (about 2-3 tablespoons), just until frosting is spreadable, but still quite thick. Spread on top of one cake layer. Add second cake layer. Spread frosting on entire top and sides of cake. By generous handfuls, press the chopped pecans onto the cake’s sides, all the way around, and evenly. Tip: Leave ample space around the cake and reapply nuts that drop off as needed.