CHEW THIS! Not Your Average Carrot Cake

The following “Chew This!” column originally appeared in “The Courier-Times” and / or “The Shelbyville News”. Check their websites for further information and dates.

Not Your Average Carrot Cake

Blaise Doubman

I am always thrilled to come across a new recipe! Especially a recipe for something so classical and traditional as the old-fashioned carrot cake. This recipe came to me from my friend, Jeanne Burns, who is a fabulous cook and baker in her own right. Matter of fact, she is the one who sampled this cake, loved it and even took the picture I’m sharing here with everyone. The original recipe may be found under the name J. Alexander’s Redlands Grill Carrot Cake, from the South Florida Sun Sentinel. I made this wonderful cake and made a few changes and wow! What a deliciously moist and flavorful cake. I could not believe it! Many people see or hear the word carrot cake and are immediately turned off. I get it. I used to be too, until what I discovered was that I just actually had not had a good carrot cake before, just lots of bad ones. When I discovered carrot cakes could be chopped full of pineapple, coconut and pecans, I was sold.

This cake has not only pineapple but also crushed pineapple, shredded coconut and pecan pieces. It also has a secret cake syrup that guarantees a moist and delicious cake every time. The cream cheese frosting really sets this cake over the top. You will not believe how delicious this cake is until you try a bite yourself. Make sure when making this cake that your butter is at room temperature, you use real actual buttermilk and your cream cheese is also at room temperature. If the cream cheese is not at room temperature you will never get that gloriously smooth consistency you’re looking for. It will be grainy and flat. Simply follow those instructions and this is foolproof!

Not Your Average Carrot Cake

For the cake…

2 cups white all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 cups white granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

¾ cup vegetable oil 

¾ cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

8 oz drained crushed pineapple

2 cups julienne carrots

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup pecan pieces

For the cake syrup…

1 cup white granulated sugar

½ cup buttermilk

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the frosting…

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter

8 oz cream cheese, soft

2 cups powdered sugar

Splash of milk for consistency

Splash of pure vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Start by preheating your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl whisk together the white all-purpose flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon, white granulated sugar and salt. Whisk in the large eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk and pure vanilla extract.

Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the drained crushed pineapple, prepared carrots, shredded coconut and pecan pieces.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Wrap on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake, in preheated oven, for 45 minutes.

In the meantime, make the cake syrup by combining the white granulated sugar, buttermilk, unsalted butter and pure vanilla extract in a medium pot over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture is melted and smooth. Once it comes up to a boil, boil for about a minute and then turn off and set aside. The sugar will be dissolved at this point.

Once the cake has baked, remove from the oven and poke holes all over the top with the end of a wooden spoon. Do not worry if it looks bad, the frosting will cover that up later. Once all the holes are poked, gently pour the syrup all over the cake and let it absorb. Place the cake into the refrigerator and have it chill completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, combine the unsalted butter and cream cheese until both are smooth and combined. Add in the powdered sugar with a splash of milk, pure vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. The frosting needs to be beaten until thick and smooth, like thick melted ice cream. Gently frost the cake and place back into the refrigerator. This cake is best eaten chilled but you may also find warming a piece up in the microwave is not a bad idea either.

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