Its already summer here in Los Angeles. I see people dressed in flip flops, sun dresses, and wide brimmed hats. I see all these people on vacation soaking up the sun and frolicking on a weekday. I’m jealous. I miss my spring breaks and summer vacations.
To compensate and make myself feel better, I made this tropical carrot cake. It’s no ordinary carrot cake. It’s a carrot cake on a vacation in the tropics somewhere. Traditional carrot cake is boring. This cake is different. Although it is a moist cake, it is not oily or dense. The addition of crushed pineapples and dark brown sugar help to add moisture without sacrificing the structural integrity of the cake.
To me, anything with pineapples and coconut means a good time. It’s exotic and fun and just screams vacation. The lightly toasted coconut in the cake batter imparts a subtle nutty flavor without adding the walnuts commonly found in carrot cakes. The lime zest in the frosting adds a much needed kick and zing to trite cream cheese.
This may not be prettiest cake, but it sure is the tastiest cake I’ve ever made. I love trying out recipes that make the old new again. There are so many little things you can add or subtract from traditional recipes to make them modern and fresh. I see this tropical carrot cake going places. I’m sure friends and family will be asking for this come picnic and barbecue season.
In the meantime, I’ll have my slice of cake while I pretend I’m lounging underneath the palm tree enjoying the salty ocean breeze and the warm sand between my toes.
Tropical Carrot Cake, adapted from Home Baked Comfort by Kim Laidlaw
makes 2- 8 in cakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup canola oil
3 eggs, large, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla paste, or extract
3 cups shredded carrots, about 3-4 large carrots
1- 6 oz can crushed pineapples, drained
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together sugar, brown sugar, and oil. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.
4. Fold in shredded carrots, crushed pineapples, and toasted coconut. Add dry ingredients in two additions and mix until just incorporated.
5. Divide batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. It is best to weigh out batter so ensure even cake layers. Bake for 30-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Let cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before unmolding. Run a knife or a small offset around the perimeter of cake before inverting. Let cake cool to room temperature on wire rack before frosting and assembly.
Lime Cream Cheese Frosting
16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
zest from one lime
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together cream cheese and butter on medium high speed until smooth and fluffy. Reduce speed and gradually add in confectioners’ sugar. Add lime zest. Combine to beat until frosting is smooth and spreadable.
Dark rum for soaking cake layers
Unsweetened coconut flakes to garnish sides of cake
1. Once cakes are at room temperature, unmold and make sure layers are the same height. If necessary, cut tops of cake with a serrated cake knife.
2. Place one cake round on cake board. Lightly soak cake with dark rum. Evenly spread about 1/2 cup of lime cream cheese frosting (or more if desired) on cake using an offset spatula. Repeat soaking and spreading frosting on second layer of cake.
3. Use remaining frosting to coat sides of the cake. If desired, garnish with unsweetened coconut flakes.
4. Chill cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.