Friday, January 16, 2015

Prize-Winning Carrot Cake: Eating Your Vegetables

This may not be the perfect time to introduce you... 

...but I'm going to do it anyway.

Please meet the most perfect,, prize-winning...

Carrot Cake...

THE Best carrot cake the history of world… 

(or at least in the history of my kitchen...which has quite a little history)
Somewhere in the midst of all the January resolutions, 

...the exercises, 

...and heart-smart, healthful promises...

…someone is in need of a very special,
...even better than from a fancy bakery...even... 

...rivaling the best dessert shops anywhere...

 --a from scratch, masterpiece. 

A cake baked with love --kind of cake…
Somewhere, someone must need a birthday cake…. Right??

Did I mention it was a prize-winning cake too??   It is. 

It won the “big one”…   --twice.  

Is everyone still exercising??

…Good, I’m glad to hear it…

...because this cake might have a few calories…
….but this cake is absolutely worth taking an extra lap around the block…
And …Is everyone still eating their veggies??

I hope so…

…because as it turns out, this prize-winning carrot cake has both veggies and fruit in it….and some coconut too, which I am about to look up…I think it’s a nut…?? 

As it turns out… coconut is a fruit… bonus.

This cake is the perfect make-ahead dessert because it tastes so much better the next day…
It’s good the first day…but,

 --Oh my, the second day… some kind of magic happens…
...all the flavors come together…the texture is perfect…

For all those who need some sweet relief…, or a birthday cake…or just want to keep it for future reference… 
The recipe follows:  
(And if you need to see HOW to make it with my BEST BAKING TIPS and baking pointers…keep reading below the recipe…

Prize-Winning Carrot Cake

Blue Ribbon Favorites from Karri Perry


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tiny pinch of ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs-room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk-room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups of finely grated carrot-  Food process once with a grater attachment and then a second time for finely grated carrot.
1 can (8 ounce) crushed pineapple, drained very well
1/2 cup flaked coconut-I use Baker's Sweetened Angel Flaked-in the blue bag.
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts (optional) Toast nuts in a 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes, cool and chop before adding to the cake. 


Line three 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and lightly grease/spray.  Set aside.

Stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and tiny pinch of ground cloves.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk and vanilla, mixing together until combined and emulsified (smooth with no oily puddles).  Slowly add the flour mixture, stopping to scrape down the bowl.  Mix cake batter just until flour mixture is incorporated.

Fold in the grated carrot, pineapple, coconut and chopped nuts if using.

Pour batter into prepared cake pans.  

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cakes.

Let cakes rest on wire rack for 10 minutes.

Remove cakes from the very warm pans after 10 minutes AND remove and discard the parchment paper.  Let cool.

Once cakes are at room temperature, spread the frosting between the cake layers, on the sides and top of cake.  This is not the final coat, this is only the crumb-coat.

Chill cake in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes, then apply a final coating of the frosting, add nuts to the sides for garnish. 

Refrigerate cake overnight, up to 24 hours and then serve. 

** For cupcakes, this recipe makes 36 cupcakes.  Use cupcake liners, fill cups 3/4 full, bake for 17-19 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting

(I usually double this for a three-layer cake)

1 stick of softened butter (8 TBS)
1 brick of softened cream cheese (8 ounces)
3 cups of powdered sugar
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts

(If frosting is too thick, add 1 teaspoon of milk or cream at a time until desired consistency is reached.)

Pre-heat the oven, 350 degrees. …It’s always a great place to start. 
Cakes are always baked on the center rack of the oven…so look inside and if you need to adjust your racks.  Adjust them before the oven is hot.

If you ever had a cake get over-done, or dried out…it might have been because the cake was baking too close to the heat…on a lower rack.

Prepare your pans.  I like to spray pans, lay parchment in and give it a light spray once more...

Use parchment to line the bottom…


The cake might not come out of the pan if you try to skip the parchment...this cake has plenty of sticky goodness in it…

I took a photo of the pan just after I removed the cake…if the parchment paper was not in there…there is a pretty good chance that the little bit of sticking would have been a whole lot…

Good news… they sell pre-cut parchment rounds.  If you can’t stand the thought of cutting out parchment rounds…consider picking some up… I do!

If cutting rounds out, old school style, simply lay the pan on the parchment paper, trace the pan shape and then cut.  If you are new to parchment paper, it is usually found in the aisle at the grocery near the aluminum foil and plastic wraps.

Get your ingredients ready…
Toast the walnuts.  

Wondering about toasted vs. raw nuts?? 

…toasting nuts for any recipe add tons of flavor and makes everything taste better…

If you don’t believe me…  taste a walnut that is raw, un-toasted and then try one that has been lightly toasted for 7 minutes… the taste is dramatically different and often is the difference in baking competitions.  Toast the nuts 5-7 minutes in a 350 oven.  Let cool and then chop.

Carefully measure flour, spices and baking soda…set aside.

Measure sugar in a separate bowl.  Set aside. 

Did you know??  Baking is basically like chemistry…so if you measure correctly…your product will have at least half a chance of turning out amazing…. Adding too much or not enough, often spells disaster when baking… Don’t’ worry... You can do it!!

Measure buttermilk and oil.  Set aside.

No buttermilk in the house??  Don’t worry. 
 I often don’t have buttermilk on hand either.  A quick fix: using milk, (whole and 2% work best for this trick)… Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice OR vinegar… It sours the milk and gives you faux buttermilk in a pinch.

What kind of oil should you use??  Great question!!   Vegetable or canola oil is a great choice because those oils are flavorless…meaning they don’t impart any unusual flavors that some other oils (like olive oil) might.

TIP: Twice grated carrots:  Peel carrots.  Grate carrots.  I like to use this grater attachment on my food processor.

Once through, it yields grated carrot, but the pieces are too large for a cake…

Add the blade and give the carrots a second chopping, until the carrot pieces are smaller…but not pulverized.

Why smaller grated carrot pieces?? The cakes only bake for 30 minutes… there is no way grated carrot can soften up to a nice consistency in just 30 minutes…so by making the grated carrot a little finer, the end result is smaller and softer carrots in the cake.  Tip:  I like to add the drained pineapple and coconut to the grated carrot and give the food processor a quick pulse and then I only have to combine once.

Beat eggs, oil and sugar with the electric mixer.

Add the flour mixture, a little at a time.  Stopping to scrape down the sides once. Stop mixing once the flour is incorporated.
Fold in the carrots, pineapple and coconut.  Add nuts if using.

Pour into prepared pans.
These are my new cake pans from Santa... they are Nordic Ware non-stick 9-inch cake pans.  I liked them very much, nice deep sides and they baked evenly.

Bake 30 minutes. 

Remove cakes from the very warm pans after 10 minutes.  Remove parchment paper and let cool.  Do not let the cakes cool with the parchment paper left on...

Frosting the cakes:

Add frosting in between each cake layer.

Give the cake a crumb coat… lightly frost the whole cake.  Then put the cake in the refrigerator for about an hour… go relax… letting the cake firm up in the refrigerator makes the final frosting much easier.
After an hour of cooling down the frosting acts like a glue holding the cake together better… which helps the layers to not slide around and you will be able to add the nuts without the cake falling off the plate…

Finish the cake with a final frosting and coat the sides with chopped toasted nuts.
To add nuts, hold the cake at a slight angle over a rimmed baking sheet that has the chopped nuts waiting.  Gently press the nuts onto the sides of the cake.  Nuts that do not adhere to the cake will fall back onto the baking sheet.  Repeat and rotate the cake until the sides of the cake are coated with chopped nuts.

(As you can the above photo...I ran out of cake rounds to rest the cake on for icing...I used an upside down stack of paper plates to get the job done... so classy... 

I know...  just keeping it real.  Necessity is the mother of invention!

 PS... if you were not sure what the "big one" was... it is a two-time Best of Show fair winner. 

-- That's big!


  1. Your carrot cake looks so wonderful! I bet it is awesome good! Thank you for sharing your winning recipe! I would love it if you would consider following my Blue Ribbon Recipes board on Pinterest, found here You will find your cake recipe pinned there. I just starting following you on Pinterest!

    1. Hi Dana...I'm terribly sorry for the tardiness of my response. Thanks for stopping by and I will be checking out your Pinterest board. What ever did we all do before Pinterest??



  2. Love the recipe and step by step process with photos. You make it so easy :) Will be trying this out myself as i love to bake and cook :)

    1. Hello Paul, Thanks so much for stopping by the blog. I hope you enjoy the carrot cake as much as we do!! It's a favorite of mine, it always turns out and I love that it's a great make-ahead cake!! All the best, Karri

  3. Yep.. this was excellent, thank you for the recipe! It was super moist and loved by the whole party!

    1. Yay!! What great news. Thanks so much for stopping by the blog and taking the time to let me know! Best, Karri

  4. Could not wait to make this any longer...The cakes are baking in the oven as I type. Let you know how it turns out.

    1. I'll be anxious to hear how it turns out! This cake actually tastes better after resting in the fridge overnight... If you can wait that long!! Thanks for stopping by the blog!!

  5. Hi - I can't wait to try this recipe! I do like raisins in my carrot cake - how much would you recommend adding? Also, not a big fan of do you think leaving that out would affect the taste?

    Thank you!!

    1. Hi Beth!! Yes you can absolutely leave out the coconut. I would probably add 1/2 cup or so of the raisins.... It should be fabulous!! Happy Baking!!

    2. Thanks!! I'll let you know how it turns out!

  6. This looks totally amazing and I will be making it for dessert after Sunday's dinner! Anything special about making this a 3 layer instead of 2, besides the obvious benefit of having more frosting? :)
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi! Thank you!! If you make a two-layer cake, don't fill the two cake pans with all the batter from the recipe, the cakes won't get done and could overflow their pans. Use the extra batter that would be for the third cake to make cupcakes or just discard. I hope you love it!! Happy Baking!!

  7. Can this cake be made in a bundt pan?

    1. Hi! This cake works best as a layer cake or as cupcakes. The batter Is thinner than bundt cake recipes and the finshed cakes tend to want to stick, the cakes really needs the cooking spray and parchment/ or cupcake liners to release from the pan. While I've never attempted this cake in a bundt pan, I wouldn't advise it... I think this batter isn't suited for that type of pan.... Or the much longer bake time that would be required for a bundt cake. Thanks for writing. :)

  8. Yay!! So happy to hear you're enjoying it!! Happy Baking!!


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  10. Im not a fan of pineapple...can I omit this from the recipe??

    1. Hi Heather! Yes, you can omit... I will say this, a lot of people have said the same thing about not being a fan of pineapple... But they remark that they like it in this cake. But... I totally get it.. Some folks do not want it in there...So, if you want to skip the pineapple, I would suggest adding 1/4 cup of plain applesauce... That way you won't miss out on the moisture the pineapple provides. Happy Baking! I hope you enjoy it!!! :)

  11. Wow! This cake is awesome! I don't like carrot cake at all but after seeing my family devour this one I decided to give it a try. I LOVED it. I made another one the next day.
    I will let you in on a little secret. I have become known in my family for "My Carrot Cake." I get requests for it on a regular basis. One request was even for a wedding.
    When anyone says something about how good it is, I just smile and thank them. I've never once shared the recipe. I know, I'm a stinker, right?
    You did an awesome job!!

    1. Hi Janice!! Thank you so much for taking the time to write...I really appreciate it!! I love hearing success stories and how much folks are enjoying these blue ribbon winning desserts!! I'm so happy you and your family loved it!! I think the carrot cake might be one of my favorites too... I don't think I would pass up a slice of this particular cake. :) Happy Baking!!



  12. Best cake EVER! Tasted like it was bought from a bakery but better, everyone loved it. Only difference was that I used fresh pineapples instead of canned, I just chopped it into tiny cubes and added it to the carrots in the food processor. This recipe is for sure a keeper, thank you!

    1. Hey Aida!! Thanks so much for writing to let me know!! So happy you loved it!!!


  13. A friend made me this cake and it's the BEST carrot cake I've ever had!!! I want to try to make it for my son's birthday. We live in Colorado. Do you recommend any adjustments for high altitude?

    1. Hi Deanndra,

      I don't have any experience baking at higher altitudes... but I have a baking resources that I is the link: The offer charts and explanations as to why the changes need to be made for great baking a different altitudes. I LOVE King Arthur Flour...they have great products, tools, recipes and a fab blog too. I don't get paid to say that...they are truly great. I hope the link helps answer your questions. Best of luck and happy baking!!


  14. Just made mine as I'm typing this. Hope it turns out yummy like yours is pictured. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I hope you LOVED it!! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog!!

  15. This looks amazing, I plan to make inflated this week for an co-workers birthday! I was just wondering about how many lbs of carrots I should buy?

    1. Hi Brittany,

      One regular bag (2lb. or 4 lb.) will be plenty. I use whole organic carrots, never the peeled baby ones. It takes about 3-5 medium carrots to get the amount needed. Don't forget to shred them and then lightly pulse them --so they end up being fine carrot bits--it will bake up beautifully!! Best of luck!! Happy Baking!!!

  16. Can you leave out the pineapple? If so any other changes?

    1. Hello!! I just saw that I missed your comment...very sorry for the delay. Funny enough, a lot of folks who normally do not care for pineapple, say that they very much like it in this cake... maybe because the pineapple is ground up a bit with the carrots and coconut...?? If you want to leave it out, I suggest adding 1/4 cup of applesauce--that way you won't lose too much of the moisture the pineapple would have provided. Hope this helps!!

  17. Can you make this cake in a 9x13 pan?

    1. I haven't made it in a 9x13.... If you try it, be sure to grease the pan well and fill the pan only 3/4 full... You may end up with extra batter. You'll need to adjust the baking time too... Cake will be done when a tooth pick inserted into the middle comes out clean and cake springs back to a light touch... Best of luck, I wish you baking success!!!

  18. Would you recommend covering the cake if storing it overnight in the refrigerator? I'm making this delicious looking cake for my in laws Easter celebration tomorrow. My mother in law LOVES carrot cake!

    1. Hello! I always store this cake in the refrigerator... I don't usually cover it once it's frosted, unless I have something smelly in the fridge with it. The frosting becomes firm after a few hours. Refrigerating it overnight also allow the spices to bloom!! Hope you enjoy it!! Happy Easter!!

  19. I have made this cake 3 times in 2 weeks. I made it into a bundt cake and it was perfect. Made a trial run and we loved it so I made it for Easter. One of my coworkers is moving to another area so I made him one because carrot cake is his favorite. We ended up giving some to a few of our patients and everyone who tried it said it was the best cake ever. Stayed moist for 5 days. Wish I had a piece now. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I am looking forward to finding something else delicious to make this weekend. ;)

  20. This cake is excellent. I didnt have 3/4 cups of buttermilk, so I used the 1/4th of a cup that I had and 1/2 a cup of greek yogurt. Worked perfectly. Thank you for sharing this recipe. Reminds me of the old fashioned style my mom used to make!

  21. Karri,

    I have to say that this truly was the BEST carrot cake I have ever made. I am thrilled to have found your website, and cannot wait to try some of your other recipes. Thank you for sharing your amazing cake recipe! You are a gifted baker! Thanks again!

  22. Hello.I am from Nigeria a and I intend trying this recipe for the first time and hopefully stick to it.what can be used to replace the walnuts as they are not readily available here,..raisins,almonds or peanuts? Thanks

    1. Hello!! The nuts are an optional ingredient, so if you chose to leave them out and not replace them with anything, it would not alter the recipe drastically. I have had carrot cake with raisins before and it was quite good... if you wanted to add some raisins it sounds good. I might soften the raisins fist, letting them soak in a little hot water, then drain them before adding them. Sometimes raisins can be very chewy and almost hard... so if your raisins are not soft to begin with, give them a soak. Best of luck and happy baking!!

  23. Can I use coconut oil instead of canola or vegetable oil?

    1. Hi Cindy, I’ve never made it with coconut oil... but since coconut is in the recipe too... it would be worth a try. (The flavors wouldn’t compete). If you try it, let us know how it turns out!!

  24. So I just love this recipe but my icing does not come out super white. It's like an "off" white. And very sweet. Not sure if certain brands make a difference. This time I went cheap and did Wal-Mart great value brand cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar.

  25. Delicious!! I made this cake for my hubby on our anniversary. I omitted the coconut, and still turned out delicious. I am making this for Easter, but in 9x13 pans. Making 2!!!

  26. I made this for Easter and it was amazing! Very moist and delicious, enjoyed by all. Thanks for a great recipe.

  27. Hi Karri Perry...i have tried making this carrot cake few weeks ago... using your recipe without adding coconut but instead add was so yummy delicious and moist! i am going to make another soon....fell in love with it...thanks for sharing this awesome the way, i was wondering if i add a little liquor.. for example... a little brandy to the cake mixture & frosting, would it be ok too - for flavor? if yes, how much do you recommend to add? 2-3 tbsp ok? will it be taste good as well? ...or mixture will be runny?

  28. Hello. I made this carrot cake yesterday for Thanksgiving. I have made many carrot cakes before, but must I say that this is the best ever! This is going to be my forever carrot cake recipe! I loved it, my husband loved it, everyone loved it! I was so close to omitting the pineapple but was so glad I added it! Barely tasted it but my goodness it made the cake really moist and delicious! I did omit coconut since we are not a big fan of coconut but the cake was delicious! I altered the cream cheese frosting by adding 1/4th cup of dark brown sugar. I believe it gives a nice color and flavor and the adjusted confectioners sugar accordingly. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. This truly is an award winning recipe!