I've had my go-to carrot cake recipe for years, and then I made one with pineapple, and a new favorite was born. I tweaked and tested until I got to this one today, moist, super flavorful, and perfect to make year-round. The cream cheese frosting complements it wonderfully, but this snack cake is also great on its own.
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My first homemade carrot cake recipe ever had pineapple. That was ages ago, literally.
It was not until a few months ago that I started testing some vintage recipes again.
Good thing I did! This cake is phenomenal. Super moist with a dreamy flavor.
The addition of pineapple makes it unique. The walnuts add a nice crunch and can be added to the batter or sprinkled on top before baking.
So, a new carrot cake recipe that is not so new. But it is amazing and foolproof!
Sometimes, there can never be too many carrot cake recipes in our files, right?
- Carrots: grate them at the last moment so they don't release juices. And I recommend a large-holed grater or a food processor.
- Pineapple: canned is the best option. It has a unique flavor and is available year-round.
- Sugars: the mix of both sugars is wonderful. But you can use only one if that's all you have. Just make sure you add both quantities.
- Vegetable oil: I use a neutral one like sunflower oil. But you can also use coconut, canola, and olive.
- Eggs: fresh, large.
- All-purpose flour.
- Baking powder and baking soda: are used as leaveners to help the cake rise, so make sure they aren't expired.
- Salt: I like to use kosher salt when baking. But regular table salt works just fine.
- Vanilla: I use pure vanilla extract or pure vanilla paste when available, but a good vanilla essence (artificially flavored) also works and is infinitely cheaper.
- Spices: I think cinnamon (I like Frontier Vietnamese cinnamon and Simply Organic Ceylon cinnamon) and ginger (such as Mc Cormick's ground ginger) are basic for the flavor of this cake, but feel free to add some ground nutmeg and/or allspice. They all work great together.
See the recipe card towards the end of this post for quantities.
Variations & substitutions
- Nuts: use pecans instead of walnuts. You can sprinkle them on top instead of mixing them into the batter for some crunchiness.
- Carrot cake cupcakes: instead of making a large cake, portion out the batter into cupcake liners and bake for a fun and portable treat.
- Other flavors: add a third ingredient such as grated zucchini, mashed bananas, or shredded coconut to the batter for a more complex flavor.
- Frosting: cream cheese frosting is a classic pairing with carrot cake, but you can also try a simple vanilla buttercream or whipped cream topping. Some people also enjoy a coconut cream cheese frosting to complement the flavors of the cake.
- Different pans: use round cake pans or loaf pans. One recipe makes two or three 8-inch layers (depending on how thick you want them), and 2 medium loaves.
How to make a pineapple carrot cake
Cakes with oil are simpler to mix as there's no creaming of butter. I use an electric hand-beater but you can do it with a whisk if you put in some arm power. It needs to be lightly beaten.
Sift the dry ingredients before adding and, once you do, don't overbeat it. And it doesn't need to be fully incorporated before adding the rest of the ingredients.
Add the grated carrots, crushed pineapple, and chopped walnuts to the thick batter. It will loosen up as you integrate everything.
The batter is thick but easy to pour and spread in the prepared pan. The parchment paper makes it easier to remove it after it's baked.
Cream cheese frosting
I use a simple cream cheese frosting because together with pumpkin it makes the best cake possible.
It's easy to make (mix powdered sugar with butter and cream cheese), keeps well in the refrigerator for several weeks, and there are usually some leftovers.
How much frosting? That's up to you! I find that a thick layer is always a good idea. So let your sweet tooth decide.
Skip the frosting
If you're not a cream cheese frosting person (not judging!), this cake is amazing on its own.
And easier to transport and eat without cutlery.
If serving it plain, I like to sprinkle the walnuts on top of the cake batter instead of mixing them in. It creates a wonderful crunchy top.
- Allow the cake to cool completely at room temperature.
- Wrap the cake in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent it from drying out.
- Store the unfrosted cake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Alternatively, you can freeze the cake (before frosting) for up to 3 months. For this, I recommend double wrap, first in plastic and then in foil.
- To thaw a frozen cake, remove it from the freezer and let it sit at room temperature for a few hours until it reaches room temperature. Alternatively, you can thaw it in the refrigerator overnight.
- For storing frosted leftovers, I recommend using an airtight container so the topping doesn't get crushed by the wrapping.
- Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperatures, equipment, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier!
- Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer(like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Don't overmix the batter: after incorporating flour in a cake batter, we don't want to develop gluten, as it will toughen the baked cake. So mix *just* until it's all well incorporated, but don't overbeat. I like to end mixing with a silicon spatula to ensure the ingredients are fully integrated.
- Carrots: use a large-holed grater for better results. If you grate it too thin it tends to clump and you'll have issues when trying to integrate it into the rest of the batter.
- Pineapple: you can very finely chop it or process it as I do, but if you like bigger chunks go ahead and make them more noticeable.
Troubleshooting common issues
- Overmixing the batter: it can cause the cake to become tough and dense. It is important to mix the ingredients until just combined, especially after adding the flour.
- Using the wrong type of flour: Using the wrong type of flour can affect the texture of the cake. For example, using bread flour instead of all-purpose flour can result in a tougher cake. It is important to use the type of flour specified in the recipe.
- Using cold ingredients: when it calls for ingredients at room temperature can cause the batter to be lumpy and not mix well.
- How to prevent the cake from sticking to the pan: make sure to thoroughly grease and flour the baking pan. And also line the bottom and two long sides of the pan with parchment paper to ensure easy removal.
- Dry cake: though this cake is very moist due to the oil and pineapple, overbaking it will dry it out a little and make it less tender. So use a cake tester or toothpick and remove it as soon as it comes out clean.
Related recipes you might like:
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For the cake:
- 2 ½ cups (350g) all-purpose or cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 cup (200g) brown sugar
- ½ cup (100g) common sugar
- 1 cup (240g) oil (I use sunflower)
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 2 cups (170g) grated carrot
- 1 cup (225g or about 6 slices) canned pineapple, slightly processed or very finely chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¾ cup (100g) chopped walnuts
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 6 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1-2 teaspoons milk or cream
- ½ cup chopped walnut for sprinkling (optional)
For the cake:
- Turn the oven to 350°F/180°C.
- Butter or spray an 8x12-inch (20 x 30 cm) rectangular pan. You can line it with a wide strip of parchment paper, covering the bottom and the two long sides. It will aid when removing the cake.
- In a large bowl, beat oil, sugars, and eggs for 2 minutes.
- Add the sifted dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices) and mix just until blended.
- Add carrot, pineapple, and vanilla. Mix with a spatula until everything is well integrated without dry parts but don't overdo it.
- Fold in the walnuts.
- Put in the prepared cake pan and smooth the top.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out dry.
- Let cool on a wire rack and run a smooth-bladed knife around the edge to loosen any parts that might be stuck.
- Remove from the pan, using the parchment paper as an aid when lifting the cake. Let cool completely.
- Transfer to the serving plate and spread the cream cheese frosting on top (an offset spatula is a great utensil for this). Sprinkle with chopped walnuts if wanted.
For the cream cheese frosting:
- Beat cream cheese in a bowl with the soft butter until very creamy and no lumps remain.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until you have a thick, very creamy consistency, good enough to spread.
- If needed, thin it with a teaspoon or two of milk. Or add more powdered sugar if you want a thicker frosting.
- It keeps well in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Beat again before using it to attain a creamy consistency.
Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperatures, equipment, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier!
Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer(like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
Don't overmix the batter: after incorporating flour in a cake batter, we don't want to develop gluten, as it will toughen the baked cake. So mix *just* until it's all well incorporated, but don't overbeat. I like to end mixing with a silicon spatula to ensure the ingredients are fully integrated.
Carrots: use a large-holed grater for better results. If you grate it too thin it tends to clump and you'll have issues when trying to integrate it into the rest of the batter.
Pineapple: you can very finely chop it or process it as I do, but if you like bigger chunks go ahead and make them more noticeable.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Cakes
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1/12
- Calories: 437
- Sugar: 27.4 g
- Sodium: 182.4 mg
- Fat: 24 g
- Carbohydrates: 52.3 g
- Fiber: 1.8 g
- Protein: 4.8 g
- Cholesterol: 31 mg
Keywords: carrot pineapple cake