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Carrot Cake

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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

All images and text ©

Follow Jamie on Instagram. We love to see what you're baking from MBA! Be sure to tag @jamiemba and use the hashtag #mbarecipes!


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Thursday 24th of March 2022

Normally I don't write comments but I just have to say that I made this for a birthday present and the WOW's ! were resounding. Even family members who said they "hate" carrot cake, thought this was amazing.

I will say there is not enough frosting to do the sides as it says in the instructions, but the picture just shows frosting oozing from the layers, which is very attractive.


Thursday 24th of March 2022

I am so glad you enjoyed the cake! Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and share your feedback. Happy baking! -Jamie


Sunday 16th of June 2019

This recipe is perfect. No guesswork. Comes out great every time!  This is the carrot cake of all carrot cakes!


Monday 17th of June 2019

So happy to hear you enjoy the cake! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback! -Jamie


Monday 10th of November 2014

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!


Monday 10th of November 2014

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



Thursday 21st of March 2013

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??




Thursday 11th of April 2013

Paige- 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! -Jamie


Sunday 30th of October 2011

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!

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