I am actually not big on desserts but I am a huge fan of celebrations and nothing says celebration more than a decadent labor-of-love dessert so I happen to have a few solid signature cake recipes in my back pocket. Big Country’s all-time favorite is carrot cake. He is always on the lookout for a new carrot cake to try. Truth be told, pretty much any carrot cake will do but this recipe is at the very top of his list so when he had a birthday recently in the midst of COVID, I knew just what to do.
Years ago, I came across a recipe on Allrecipes called Sam’s Famous Carrot Cake and I have been making it ever since, adapting it as I go. I made a double batch of this cake and sent out texts to family and friends, inviting them to a drive-through birthday celebration, featuring carrot cake and coffee to go. I also delivered extras to the neighbors and then wrapped up the leftovers into individual packets and popped them in the freezer so he could enjoy his birthday for a few more weeks, one piece at a time.
The thing about this particular recipe is that it is more like a fruit cake– dense with carrots, pineapple, applesauce, raisins, coconut and pecans. Actually, it might be considered a meal substitute for some of you! I mean, it’s got fruit, nuts, whole grains and dairy. That’s a complete meal, right?
If you prefer your carrot cake light and fluffy, keep looking; however, if you’d rather serve a cake that has a complexity and substantiveness, this might be the version for you. With all of this fruit in a cake, you can lower the processed sugar. I mix in whole wheat, oat flour and flax seed to make it even more robust. And then top it with cream cheese frosting made with a dollop of real maple syrup. Trust me when I tell you that this carrot cake will create lasting memories and isn’t that what celebrations are for?
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup oat flour (or ground oats)
- 3 Tbsp ground flaxseed
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut, flaked or shredded
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup canned crushed pineapple with juice
- 1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2-1 cup powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8 x 12 pan.
- In a medium bowl, sift together all flours, flaxseed, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, applesauce, oil, sugar and vanilla. Mix well and then completely incorporate in flour mixture.
- In a medium bowl, combine shredded carrots, coconut, raisins, pineapple and toasted pecans
- Using a large mixing spoon, add carrot mixture to batter and fold in well.
- Pour into prepared 8 x 12 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees about 1 hour. Check center with toothpick to ensure doneness.
- Allow to cool before spreading with cream cheese frosting.
- Add all ingredients to mixing bowl and mix on high speed until fluffy. After starting with 1/2 cup powdered sugar, add more to taste, if needed. Spread on cooled cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.