Classic Carrot Cake with Pineapple and Cream Cheese Frosting- an easy and delicious cake to make for any occasion, including the holidays.
Classic Carrot Cake with Pineapple and Cream Cheese Frosting
Some recipes have stories behind, while others don’t. This recipe is sitting on my pile of “recipes to make one day” for some time now.
It is one of these recipes that are shared among friends, therefore I am not able to give credit to someone specifically.
When I was telling my daughter that I was putting this recipe on the blog she told me that when she turned 30, one of our family friends in Romania made it for her and she liked it very much.
If you’re planning to make this recipe, know that it has my daughter’s seal of approval. 🙂
What I liked about this recipe is the simplicity of it.
There are recipes of carrot cakes out there made with all kind of ingredients that add sweetness and moisture to the cake.
I think from all the versions I tried so far, this one with pineapple is the best because it has very simple flavors.
It is also easier to make, because you don’t need to worry about layers.
Of course, you can be fancy and play with the shape of this cake, but if you want to keep it simple, a 9×13 baking pan is perfect for the recipe.
The delicious cream cheese frosting goes on top of the cake and the decorations can be kept on the simple side.
A few pieces of candied orange peel and some crushed walnuts are all you need to make this cake pretty.
Cut it in squares and serve it next to a good cup of coffee.
Do you need a dessert for a potluck, or party where you need to bring something? This cake can be transported and served directly from the baking tray.
What is carrot cake?
Carrot cake is a delicious cake made with shredded or grated carrots added to the batter that gives it a sweet flavor that feels natural and not processed.
Historically, carrot cake recipes came from Europe.
The first documents about versions of this cake are from the Medieval times.
England, France and Switzerland (where this cake is considered the traditional birthday cake) are the countries where this recipe is more popular.
What is the texture of this Carrot Cake with Pineapple and Cream Cheese Frosting?
Usually carrot cake can be very dense but, in this recipe, due to the addition of crushed pineapple the cake has a lighter texture.
I would describe it as somewhere between a dense pound cake with tight crumbs and fluffy white cake with looser crumbs.
It will definitely have a cake-like consistency, it will be moist, and sort of fluffy and have speckles of carrots swirled throughout.
What ingredients should I use for this Carrot Cake with Pineapple and Cream Cheese Frosting?
First of all, like in any recipe, the quality of the ingredients you are about to use are very important.
As I said before, you cannot make good food using bad ingredients.
Carrots– For carrot cake, you have to grind your own carrots. Do not buy the store-bought shredded carrots (or “matchstick” carrots) because they are too big for this cake.
I recommend that after you peel your carrots, you use a box grater, or the food processor if you have one.
You should use the shred blade and then if your carrots are still too big, pulse them with the regular blade for a few seconds.
You want your carrots to be small so even if you use the box grater make sure you use the smaller grates.
I also would recommend you buy a few organic carrots. My experience has been that organic carrots are a little sweeter than the rest.
Pineapple-It will add moisture and sweetness without an overpowering pineapple flavor.
The texture will be almost like a banana bread but of course with a different flavor profile.
Brown sugar- Again, I personally like dark brown sugar versus light brown sugar, because of the molasses that brings more depth to the flavor.
However, if you prefer light brown sugar then you can use what you like and what is available.
Brown sugar is used in carrot cake because it adds moisture and a rich flavor.
Spices – My recipe asks for cinnamon because it is a cake is more appropriate for the spring months when most of us are tired of the fall and winter seasoning we have been using in our baked goods and cooked dishes.
Can I use other spices?
Of course! You can definitely play with the spices and add nutmeg, ginger and even all spice.
If you make the cake in the fall and winter months, I would definitely recommend making it a little spicier.
But if you make it for a birthday, Easter or Mother’s Day, I’d recommend keeping it lighter with just the cinnamon.
How do you make Carrot Cake with Pineapple and Cream Cheese Frosting?
This is a simple recipe where you first mix all of the wet ingredients and then you add them to the dry ingredients.
You then pour the mixture in the pan, you bake it, frost it and you get eat it as if someone will take it away from you.
More specifically though, first, you preheat the oven to 350F/180C, and then you butter 9×13 baking pan and set it aside.
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Then you shred the carrots like I recommend it above, and you mix them with the brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.
In a separate bowl you beat the eggs with the granulated sugar until creamy and pale in color, and then you add the oil and mix well.
You then add the flour and baking soda, pineapple, walnuts and the carrot mixture, mixing everything well. If it looks a little lumpy, that’s ok! It will have a better texture later.
Note: The carrots will release some juice after they sit with sugar for a while, but do not drain the liquid, add everything to the rest of the batter.
Then you pour the batter in the prepared dish and if you used a 9x13in pan then you bake it for 30-40 minutes, or until the top of the cake is set.
When you test the center of the cake with a toothpick, it should come out clean.
Once it is done, transfer it to a wire rack, and allow it to cool completely in the pan.
Decorate it with the cream cheese and small pieces of candied orange peel.
Can I use a different size pan? Or a different shape?
You betcha! Just be aware that any time you change the shape of the pan, the baking time will be dependent on the chosen shape.
For example, for two 9-inch round cake pans the baking time is about 20-25 minutes at 350°F.
How do you make cream cheese frosting for carrot cake?
Just like the cake recipe, the frosting is easy to make as well.
Either in a stand mixer, or a large mixing bowl with a hand-held mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth, then add the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat it until it is fully combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
How do you store carrot cake?
It all depends on how warm your house is. If your house is 70 F (21 C) or colder, then put it in an airtight container on the counter.
If your house is warmer than that, then refrigerate it.
The carrot bits in the cake if left in a humid environment can develop mold, so it might be safer to keep it in a cool and dry environment.
Can you freeze carrot cake?
Absolutely! It can stay in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you plan to eat it, just refrigerate it overnight before serving.
Can I use only egg whites instead of whole eggs?
I would not recommend it. For best results you need to stick with the whole eggs.
Every ingredient is designed to do a certain job in a recipe. After all, baking is chemistry, right?
What kind of oil should I use? I don’t have sunflower oil.
You can use any oil available, but keep in mind that certain oils will change the flavor of the cake (aka: olive oil, walnut oil, coconut oil).
I prefer sunflower oil because it is a neutral oil with no after taste.
I have been able to find it at Trader Joe’s or my local grocery store.
Can I make carrot cake using gluten free flour?
Unfortunately, I do not have an answer for this one as I do not have experience with gluten free flours.
You will need to look for a gluten free recipe online.
I am allergic to nuts. Can I replace walnuts with something else in carrot cake?
Yes! Traditionally carrot cake is made with walnuts, but if you are allergic, you can take them out.
It will not ruin the texture of the cake. You can add shredded coconut or raisins if you want to make the texture a little more interesting.
I know some people with walnut allergies can eat pecans, so you can add those as well.
What kind of pineapple should I use for this Carrot Cake with Pineapple and Cream Cheese Frosting?
Crushed pineapple, or chunks?
I prefer and recommend cans of crushed pineapple for this cake as I don’t like my cake to have big pieces of pineapple in it.
It takes away from the original carrot cake flavors.
If you like a chunkier cake with a more pineapple-y flavor, then you can use what is available to you and what you like to eat.
Should I drain the pineapple?
I would say drain it a little bit. It does not have to be dry but you also do not want it to be swimming in syrup.
Since canned pineapple is so sweet already due to the syrup, my recipe asks for less sugar.
I wanted to take into account that some people might not drain all of the syrup.
If you make this cake, let us know! We always love to hear from you.
No matter how you decorate it, or serve it, this Classic Carrot Cake with Pineapple and Cream Cheese Frosting will become one of your favorites.
- 3 cups carrots shredded(about 5-6 medium carrots)
- 1/2 cup/3.5oz/100g brown sugar
- 1/2 cup/4oz/114g pineapple crushed(well drained)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup/3.5oz/100g granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract(one for the cake and one for the cream cheese frosting)
- 1/2 cup/3.8 fl.oz/110ml oil (sunflower or any other vegetable oil)
- 2 cups/8.8oz/250g all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 cup/1.4oz/40g chopped walnuts
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
- 2 1/3 cups/10.5oz/300g powder sugar
- 8.8 oz/250g cream cheese
- candied orange peel for decor
- To make the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
- Butter a 9x13 baking pan and set aside.
- In a medium bowl mix the shredded carrots with the brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Set aside.
- In a bigger bowl, beat together the eggs with the granulated sugar until creamy and pale in color.
- Add the oil and mix well.
- To this mixture add the flour and the baking soda.
- Also, add the carrots mixture(do not drain the juices), pineapple and walnuts.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 30-40 minutes until the top of the cake is set and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack, and allow it to cool completely in the pan. Decorate with cream cheese and small pieces of candied orange peel.
- To make the cream cheese frosting:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a hand-held mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth.
- Add the butter and mix for until well combined and smooth. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue mixing until fully combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Using a knife or an offset spatula, top the cooled carrot cake with the cream cheese frosting. Decorate with candied orange peel.
- Slice into pieces and serve.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 351Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 196mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 2gSugar: 34gProtein: 4g