Carrot Cake

This carrot cake turns out moist and, yes, healthy. It’s made with puréed rather than grated carrots, coconut, canned pineapple, and a luscious cream cheese frosting.

A slice of classic carrot cake--two carrot cake layers filled and frosted with cream cheese frosting; on top are crushed walnuts

In the beginning, Sheila’s mother drove her famous carrot cakes down to Manhattan daily from her Connecticut kitchen. The cake became a Silver Palate classic; it may now become yours as well.–Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins

What makes this carrot cake better than others?

This carrot cake recipe ingeniously uses puréed, rather than grated, carrots in the batter, ensuring a more even and smooth dispersal of carrotiness in each bite. And that distinction alone makes the cake unparalleled in the realm of carrot cakes.

Carrot Cake

  • Quick Glance
  • (4)
  • 45 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Serves 10 to 12
5/5 - 4 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the The Silver Palate Cookbook: 25th Anniversary Edition cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Ingredients

  • For the puréed carrots
  • For the cake
  • For the cream cheese frosting

Directions

Make the puréed carrots

In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine the carrots and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until the carrots are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Drain the carrots and transfer to a food processor. Process until smooth. (Alternatively, a potato masher can be used to make the purée, however, it will have a coarser consistency.)

Make the cake

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Adjust the oven rack to the center position and butter two 9-inch round cake pans or, in a pinch, springorm pans. If desired, line the pans with parchment paper cut to fit.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add the oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat well. Fold in the walnuts, coconut, carrots, and pineapple. The batter will be quite thick. 

Tester tip: If your batter seems impossibly thick, you can add a smidgen of the reserved pineapple juice. But use no more than 1 or, at most, 2 tablespoons.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans. It may come close to the top. This is fine. Bake until the edges have pulled away from the sides and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.

Cool the cakes in the pans, on a wire rack for 3 hours. Remove the parchment, if using.

Make the frosting

In a stand mixer or a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until well combined and almost fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Your cream cheese and butter MUST be at room temperature, as noted in the ingredients list, to ensure a lumpless frosting.

Tester tip: If you prefer ample cream cheese frosting, as in the photo above, you’ll need to double the recipe.

Slowly, slowly sift in the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until fully incorporated, which could take anywhere from 1 1/2 to 4 minutes. The mixture should be free of lumps.

Stir in the vanilla, and lemon juice if desired.

Frost the cake

Place the bottom layer of the cake on a serving platter. Spread a layer of frosting over the cake, then carefully top with the second cake. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining cream cheese frosting. (You can stash any leftover cake in the freezer and it will keep magnificently for up to 3 months.) Originally published June 9, 2007.

Tester tip: This carrot cake slices exceptionally easily when it’s been kept in the fridge.
Print RecipeBuy the The Silver Palate Cookbook: 25th Anniversary Edition cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

This was beyond the best carrot cake I have ever had. I have never put puréed carrots into a cake, but it was great. Very moist, not too sugary, light, and airy. This is my new go-to dessert.

Everything about this carrot cake is perfect—it's moist, flavorful, and, with the layers, fancier than a regular carrot snack cake. It was also reminiscent of the carrot pineapple muffins that my mum made when I was a kid. And it was that very same mum who dropped off a 10-pound bag of carrots a week ago with the words "good luck" and a smile. This is another recipe that I will make many more times—it comes together easily and tastes incredible. I shared it with coworkers, as well as my mum, and it went over a treat with requests for more.

I only have 1 springform pan so I used 2 regular pans lined with parchment paper instead. I did find that the amount of batter came right to the top of the pans so I would recommend using springform pans if you can.

I did find that the batter was very thick—almost like dough—and didn't seem like it would spread once poured into the pans. I added a small amount of the pineapple juice, about 2 tbsps, and that was enough to give it consistency more like cake batter.

The icing came together quickly; it only took about 10 minutes to get a smooth consistency. I did use the vanilla and lemon, the lemon was an especially nice addition that cut through the sweetness of the icing sugar.

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Comments

  1. Overthinker-proof!
    Made this for Xmas Eve and it was a huge hit. My overthinking didn’t damage it at all……
    Was concerned about a few things that all seemed to turn out great. 1- I didn’t use coconut and substituted an equal amount of shredded carrots (for the reader who asked, in my oven this required no extra time, surprisingly ) 2- puréed carrots – there aren’t instructions so I wasn’t sure how much liquid to use to purée them (I cut them up into 1” pieces, simmered for about 25 min, and then added just enough cooking water to make them smooth in my Vitamix) 3- it doesn’t specify to cool in the pans or take them out (I left them in the pans until cool, as they were just easier to transport this way.)
    Resulted in GREAT texture, amazing flavor, nice spice, released no problem, and of course the cream cheese frosting is to. Die. For.
    And yes – yes, it does make a huge cake. Which exactly what I think we should all be eating in 2020.

    1. You’re absolutely right, Janet. If there ever was a year to eat a giant cake, 2020 would be it. Your cake is stunning and I’m so glad that you were able to work around some concerns with the recipe and turn out a perfect dessert. Thanks so much for bringing these details to our attention; we’ve updated the recipe to make it more clear.

  2. This is the Silver Palate Carrot Cake recipe, exactly. A classic and beloved by cooks and their guests for literally decades. It was originally published in 1979. You should acknowledge the source of your recipe.

    1. Vera, if you take a look at whom we list as the authors, the cover of the cookbook, and the copyright line at the bottom of the recipe, and you’ll see Sheila, Julee, and the Silver Palate are all properly and prominently displayed and credited!

  3. Love this cake but it is really big……so I have successfully divided the recipe in half on several occasions and ended up with a majestically tall, two layer 6-inch cake that feeds a small crowd. My only adjustment is to decrease the oven temp a bit toward the end and often tent it with foil as this is a dense cake and I like to make sure it is cooked through before the sides or top get too well done. I usually use the full amount of icing so I can be generous with it. This is my favorite carrot cake recipe ever and is always well received by my crowd. Even at 6 inches I was able to serve 8 people with ample servings.

    1. Thanks, Ellen! Gorgeous cake! Thanks so much for taking the time to share this with us.

  4. Why does the picture have grated carrots in the cake when the recipe calls for puree? I’ve made this recipe several times and it’s never looked like that.

    1. Meredith, good catch! We opted for a new photo that was more contemporary. If you want a bit of texture like this, add 1/3 cup grated carrots to the batter.

    1. Hi Cindy, generally speaking in baking, you can use either (2) 9″ pans or a 9×13 pan. The 9×13 pan will take 5 to 10 less time to bake. This particular recipe calls for (2) 9″ springform pans so I’m reluctant to recommend conversion to a 9×13 as we did not test it that way.

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