Bake my super moist spice cake next.
The week is here: happy spring!
While the calendar shows spring this week, the snow piles on our lawn beg to differ. Mother nature is a tad confused, but one thing’s certain: Easter is less than a month away. And with longer days and fresh tulips blooming on the horizon, we HAVE to have carrot cake on the mind.
And, really, any and all spring baking.
I’m in freak out mode over this pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Which isn’t much different from any other time I eat carrot cake, but this time it’s a little excessive because this is 100% + honestly + literally the best carrot cake I’ve ever tasted. It’s similar to this spiced carrot cake (which I may have to rename “my 2nd favorite carrot cake”), but there’s a massively flavorful addition today: crushed pineapple. It brightens up the entire cake.
Do you usually add pineapple to carrot cake? I feel like this is a norm for a lot of bakers. And while I’ve tried it before, I usually default to applesauce, raisins, or coconut as a flavorful add-in. But this year I decided to be like the cool kids and I beg you to give pineapple a whirl too. Grab a can of crushed pineapple OR crush your own OR a can of chopped pineapple and pulse until crushed. You won’t regret it.
This pineapple carrot is absolutely a cut (slice?) above the rest.
Let’s get into the cake details.
This sweet and spicy cake is uncomplicated where all you’ll need is 2 bowls, a whisk, and a rubber spatula. No mixer required, but a little arm muscle to really get those wet and dry ingredients combined. Easy, yes, but that doesn’t mean the carrot cake is plain. It’s bursting with spice flavor and completed with a dense and tangy blanket of cream cheese frosting on top. Baking this carrot cake as a sheet cake in a 9×13 pan makes it even more effortless. Just one layer of cake and one layer of frosting. Easy to frost, easier to cut, easiest to eat.
Crushed or chunks? I vote for crushed. Crushed pineapple acts more like a wet ingredient than an optional addition. (Read: added moisture, a good thing!) I also didn’t want large chunks of pineapple in my slices, which could take away from the cake’s other flavors. And because pineapple is sweet, I slightly reduced the sugar in this carrot cake recipe. While most carrot cakes are cloyingly sweet, this one hits the mark where you KNOW it’s dessert but also don’t feel a cavity forming at first bite.
On a moist level (ew?), this pineapple carrot cake reminds me of my favorite banana cake. Remember the one I obsessed over and recreated last summer? Just like that. If it’s not stick-to-the-back-of-your-fork moist, it’s just not worth it.
We aren’t lacking on the flavor scale either, like I mentioned above. The cake is sweetened *mostly* from dark brown sugar. Light brown works just the same, but I love the extra hint of molasses from dark– especially when baking carrot cakes, spice cakes, and the like. There’s also the mighty gang of spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. And pineapple too, of course.
As for the texture? This pineapple carrot cake is between a dense pound cake with tight crumbs and fluffy white cake with looser crumbs. Somewhere in the middle where it’s a little bit of both. Distinctively cake-like and moist, sort of fluffy and a little dense with speckles of carrots swirled throughout. Make sure you grate your own carrots. Extra moisture that way. (Again, a good thing!) Here is the grater I own and love.
I told you: an actual blanket of cream cheese frosting. ↓
Feel free to get fancy with a piping tip or you can garnish the cake with chunks of pineapples, extra walnuts, toasted coconut, whatever. I decided for a rustic look. Aka: the hungry lazy girl’s method. Spread & serve.
Slice & devour.
Pineapple Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 and 1/2 cups (312g) all-purpose flour, spoon & leveled
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon EACH ground cloves, ground ginger, + ground nutmeg
- 1 cup canola (240ml) or vegetable oil1
- 1 and 1/4 cup (250g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 large carrots, grated (about 2 cups)2
- 1 cup (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained3
- 1 cup (125g) Diamond of California chopped walnuts
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces (224g) full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 cups (360g) confectioners' sugar, plus an extra 1/4 cup if needed
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9x13 inch pan. I always use this glass pan.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and other spices together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Whisk the oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract together in a medium bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Fold in the grated carrots, pineapple, and walnuts.
- Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you find the top or edges of the cake is/are browning too quickly in the oven, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
- Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely. After about 45 minutes, I usually place it in the refrigerator to speed things up.
- Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add 3 confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. If you want the frosting a little thicker, add the extra 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar (I add it). Spread the frosting on the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. This helps sets the frosting and makes cutting easier.
- Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.
Make ahead tip: Prepare cake through step 5. Cover the cake tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature, make the frosting, frost, and serve. Frosted cake freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature or serve cold.
- Instead of 1 cup of oil, try 1/2 cup (90g) unsweetened applesauce and 1/2 (120ml) cup oil. The cake is just as moist.
- Don't use pre-shredded carrots found in the produce aisle. They're typically on the dry side. Rather, freshly grate 3 large carrots to yield approximately 2 moist cups of carrot shreds.
- I use canned crushed pineapple. You can also crush fresh pineapple to use in the cake batter. Crushed pineapple, as opposed to pineapple chunks, acts like a wet ingredient keeping this cake extra moist and tender. Keeping that in mind and if you want larger chunks of pineapple in your cake, you can use chunks instead.
Want a layer cake instead? Follow this recipe and the assembly/baking directions in my carrot layer cake. Use the frosting recipe in the layer cake (makes a little more than this).
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This recipe is adapted from this super moist spice cake, which is basically a deliciously spiced apple version of today’s carrot cake recipe!
SHOP THE RECIPE
Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.
You’ll also love my cheesecake swirl carrot bundt cake!
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