If you want a lush, moist, fragrant, real carrot cake (not a mamby pamby “spice cake” with no discernible flavor or carrots), this will be your new gold standard. It’s been mine since the late 1970’s.
Winding back the clock, my family was living in Barstow, California, in the Mojave Desert where my father was stationed at the Marine Corps Logistics Base. Toward the end of our stay in Barstow, we lived outside of the base. Our next door neighbors were the Arosamena’s, a family from Panama. We became close to some of their kids who were the same age as us, and the carrot cake originates from one of their daughter’s, Elena.
My family has made this carrot cake for 40+ years! I’ve changed a few of the proportions and given a couple of variations as options, but otherwise it remains the same.
Fun (nothing to do with cake) fact: My Confirmation name is Tobias. I choose it after my then best friend, Toby Arosamena, a few years after we moved from Barstow!
From my and the Arosamena’s family to yours, I hope you enjoy this amazing carrot cake!
Two Families’ Carrot Cake
Wet ingredients, Part 1
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or 1/4 cup vegetable oil plus 1/4 cup melted and cooled coconut oil for a tropical flavor)
- 2 cups regular granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups all purpose flour (250 grams)
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher or seal salt (not table salt)
Wet ingredients, Part 2
- 10 ounces crushed pineapple, very well drained. I use fresh pineapple, but canned is fine. (or, finely diced and drained mango, if you want to stick with a tropical theme)
- 3 cups peeled and grated carrots (use a hand grater, not a food processor. A food processor changes the moisture level)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup raisins, any color or variety
Frosting ingredients (makes enough to cover the top and sides of the cake)
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (1 stick, or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 pound (16 ounces) powdered sugar (10X, confectioner’s)
- 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1/3 cup crushed pineapple, very well drained
- Pre-heat oven to 375F (190C) and line the bottom of a 13 X 9 (33 x 22 cm) pan with parchment paper. Spray or brush the pan with vegetable oil
- Drain the pineapple by twisting in a napkin. Save the juice
- Place the raisins in small bowl and pour the pineapple juice over them
- Place Wet ingredients, part 1 into a large mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until well combined
- In a separate bowl, sift together the Dry ingredients
- With the mixer on low, slowly add Dry ingredients into the bowl of the already mixed Wet ingredients, Part 1 until just combined
- Drain the raisins (drink the remaining pineapple juice, you’ve earned it!)
- Fold in Wet ingredients, Part 2 into the bowl with the other ingredients
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes. The cake will be dark, which is normal. A toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake should come out cleanly and the cake should have pulled away slightly from the edges of the pan. Cool the cake completely before turning it out or frosting it directly in the pan.
- Beat the cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar until well mixed
- Mix in the well-drained pineapple and walnuts
- Resist eating the whole bowl of frosting before spreading it on the cake