Carrot Cake

Last week the Fall season hit me like a brick! All of the sudden I wanted to snuggle up in cardigans, rock my UGG boots and sniff in the delicious scents of cinnamon, pumpkin and crisp apples. While my UGG boots are still buried in the depths of my closet, I have in fact worn a few cardigans and I also put away all of my summer scented candles and exchanged them with cozy fall scents.

Of course, these autumnal aromas also triggered a change in my baking. First on my Fall baking list was carrot cake. Simply because I had a giant bag of carrots in my fridge that needed using up. I have not made a carrot cake in about a year, so I turned to twitter for recipe recommendations.

Someone recommended I try Big Bill’s Carrot from Dorie Greenspan’s book, Baking: From My Home to Yours. Although I cannot remember who offered this suggestion, I thank you because it was truly delightful! This cake was not overly spicy and the coconut added a fantastic flavor and texture, plus anything slathered in cream cheese frosting is perfect in my book! I will definitely be making this one again!

Big Bill's Carrot Cake


2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted with a shredding a blade or use a box grater)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)*
1/2 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs

For the Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound or 3 and 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract (I omitted this and replaced it with 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract)
1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)

Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)


For the Cake

1. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.

3. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.

4. Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

5. The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.

For the Frosting

1. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.

2. If you'd like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.

To Assemble the Cake

1. Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top- and the sides- of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft.

2. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.

To Serve the Cake

1. This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it's good plain, it's even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.


- The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it's firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.

from Dorie Greenspan


36 Responses to “Carrot Cake”

  1. delightfullysweet — September 9, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    thank you! thank you. i have been looking for a good recipe for a carrot cake and this one looks wonderful!


  2. Gourmet Candles Distributor — September 9, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Oh that looks so gourmet to me. Great job. It's time for fall cakes that is for sure.


  3. TriniGourmet — September 9, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Wow! This is so beautiful :) Definitely will give it a try, I love Dorie's recipes! :)


  4. Nina — September 9, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Your cake looks wonderful! Great job!! That recipe is a winner. Perfect one to kick off fall. Happy Baking!


  5. ~Mrs. Guru~ — September 9, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    mmm, looks so good!


  6. Eliana — September 9, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Your cake looks fabulous. An excellent choice to welcome the fall season, although I can have it any time of year.


  7. Karin — September 9, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    How beautiful! Looking at your cake, I don't think I will ever ice the sides again… I dread icing the sides of a cake!!


  8. Leslie — September 9, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    I am sooo jealous. I wish I could feel fall coming. Here in Florida we dont ever get to rock Uggs!!
    Love the carrot cake!


  9. Pamela — September 9, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    I love Fall! I am so looking forward to cooler days, making pots of soup, pumpkin and apple picking with my boys. Just great days ahead! And now…I wish I were fall so you could welcome ME with that cake!! I loved this recipe. And you are SO right about cream cheese frosting!


  10. Tracey — September 9, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    I love fall too! I can't wait for it to arrive in full force :) Big Bill's Carrot Cake was the first TWD recipe I made and I thought it was amazing! Your cake looks scrumptious!


  11. Maria — September 9, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    I still need to make this cake. It looks so good and I have heard rave reviews!


  12. Sara — September 9, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Oh man, I love carrot cake! This look wonderful. I love how you just frosted in between the layers. Yum!


  13. Katrina — September 9, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    That looks perfectly fabulous! I hadn't joined TWD yet when they made this one, but it's at the top of my "make up" list!
    Dang, now I'm craving carrot cake. Sigh!


  14. Fahrenheit 350° — September 10, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Oh, I just love carrot cake, but I believe no one can touch my carrot cake – the secret is pineapple!


  15. Siobhán — September 10, 2009 at 3:52 am

    mmm.. I love me a good carrot cake! :) This recipe looks straightforward enough too, easy enough to replicate I'd think. I just wish I wasn't in the midst of moving house, my kitchen is too chaotic to bake anything in!! :)


  16. Jennifer — September 10, 2009 at 5:20 am

    Carrot cake is one of my favorites!! Yours looks so amazing! Is it ifall yet?!?!?


  17. Bethie — September 10, 2009 at 5:49 am

    Jamie, your cake is gorgeous. Now where is my fork?


  18. pigpigscorner — September 10, 2009 at 5:53 am

    Beautiful! I've been wrapping myself up since last week…Summer is finally gone =(


  19. Ingrid — September 10, 2009 at 9:06 am

    MMmm, I've had carrot cake on the brain since I saw (& drooled) over Em's carrot cake post.

    I wish it would get a little cooler here. Low 80's would be nice.


  20. Palidor — September 10, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Pairing coconut and carrots is a great idea! Seems perfect for celebrating the arrival of fall.


  21. Larie — September 10, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Ooh, looks tasty! I'll have to try it when I can convince someone to grate carrots for me :)


  22. CaSaundraLeigh — September 10, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    I should make this for my mom when she comes to visit–carrot cake is her fav and this looks stunnnnning!


  23. Cate — September 10, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    I'm forever on the hunt for "the" carrot cake recipe – trying this one next – looks stunningly gorgeous!


  24. Christy — September 11, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Your cake is beautiful and looks perfectly delicious!


  25. Kerstin — September 11, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Carrot cake is my favorite, but I still haven't a recipe I'm completely in love with yet, so I'll have to try this one!


  26. Donna-FFW — September 11, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Your carrot cake looks absolutely spectacular. Delicious. I always use Ina Gartens recipe, but I may try this next time.


  27. Mary Ann — September 12, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Absolutely beautiful! I love this cake and it is the only carrot cake I make- so good!


  28. Jhonny walker — September 14, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    I love baking—but mostly non-desert stuff.But I absolutely love to try out new deserts…you have some amazing ones..will keep you posted on my experience…next weekend will surely be carrot cake!
    And yes Baking is an addiction


  29. Aggie — September 21, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    That carrot cake is totally calling my name!! It looks just lovely…


  30. Teresa — April 23, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    I’ve always felt mine has been the best Carrot Cake ever. But after seeing this one…I’ve got to try it. YUMMMM


  31. Erin — October 30, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    I made this cake two weekends ago for my Mom’s Birthday…. (excluding the coconut in the recipe)…and it was a HUGE success! Party-goers were quite impressed at my “skills”…but had to leave some of the credit for you! Thanks for a great recipe and site!


  32. Paige — March 21, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    I have been on the search for a carrot cake to make for Easter and this one seems to have caught my attention!
    Do you think i could make these into cupcakes?? Do you think i would need to alter the amount i make??




    • MBA — April 11, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      I apologize I didn’t get back to you before Easter. I typically find that most cake recipes can be easily be transferred into cupcakes by using the same recipe. Stop back and let us know how they turned out – have a great day!

  33. Taylor — November 10, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Is there a way we can alter this recipe for cupcakes? I am making cupcakes for a wedding and carrot cake is the brides favorite! This recipe looks so amazing and easy i thought i would give it a try! Thank you!


    • Jamie — November 10, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      You can use the same recipe for cupcakes but you will need to adjust the cooking time.



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