I love volunteering to make birthday cakes for people because I really don't get many excuses to make cake. I'm not one to spend the time on something I'll undoubtedly end up throwing away. But birthdays are occasions to celebrate which means I get to spend time making pretty cakes in honor of the ones I love. And when the ones I love request carrot cake, well, that just turns out to be one of my favorites as well. My mom has spent the last decade or so using a great recipe she got from Bon Appetit long ago. I was having trouble finding my copy of that one so I went in search of a new recipe on the blogs of my favorite food bloggers. I settled on one from Simply Recipes. It turned out absolutely divine. It was moist and beautiful, dense and light, all at the same time. And as the birthday girl said, this cake was all about the cake and not so much the cream cheese frosting which carrot cakes have a habit of drowning in. I made a couple of modifications to the original recipe. I have posted it as I made it.
1 1/2 cups shelled walnuts, chopped (more whole or chopped for topping)
1 1/2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
2 cups of finely grated carrots
1 cup of drained crushed pineapple
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp (I accidentally used a whole stick and it was fine)
2 1/2 cups of confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9 inch cake pans. Cut out rounds of wax paper and place at bottoms of cake pans. Butter the top of the wax paper rounds.
Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Add oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat well. Fold in chopped walnuts, coconut, carrots and pineapple.
Pour batter into pans. Set on the middle rack of oven and bake for 45-50 minutes (shift positions of cakes front-to-back if necessary about halfway through), until edges have pulled away from sides and a toothpick or sharp knife tip inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a cake rack.
To prepare frosting, cream together the cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Slowly sift in the confectioners sugar and beat until mixture is free of lumps. Stir in vanilla and orange juice.
Once cakes have cooled, frost. Sprinkle top with chopped walnuts or arrange walnut halves in a crown around the top.