I hope you’re having a great week, and for some of you, today is actually Friday, since tomorrow is Good Friday, which likely makes your week even better. It’s definitely a crazy time around our house, with my working feverishly on some wedding projects, Reese’s 4th birthday coming up on Monday, my typical baking adventures, and, well, just life as a mom of 2 small kids leading into a busy family-packed Easter weekend.
I’ve been baking like crazy, and was really looking forward to making a really delicious carrot cake for Easter . . . I love carrot cake! I really appreciate a lovely traditional version, but I thought it would be fun to try something a little different. I’ve also been sort of enchanted with open layer cakes lately, and I love simplicity of this one when I saw it on the LCBO website as a sneak peek from their fabulous magazine: Food & Drink, Spring 2011 issue. Although I typically love to switch things up and rework recipes, etc. I didn’t want to mess too much with this one because it was gorgeous just the way I found it, so I left it almost exactly as it was shown in the magazine.
The cake is a tropical version, including silky coconut cream cheese icing sandwiched between layers of pineapple-infused carrot cake. There are no nuts in the recipe, which was kind of refreshing, but it’s still packed with the wonderful things that make carrot cake so delightful: fresh-grated carrots, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, to name a few. The coconut icing is a play on the traditional cream cheese icing, but with the addition of butter, sour cream, and coconut, it brings it to a whole new level.
These tropical flavours paired so well with the traditional carrot cake qualities, and I really love the thin layers — I feel like that quick slicing of the two layers into four adds a beautiful element to it, and why not? To me, creating extra layers in a cake, followed by extra icing layers, is one of the simplest ways to make even the simplest cake a show-stopper.
- 1 cup 240 ml chopped canned pineapple
- 4 cups 1 L grated carrot
- 2-1/2 cups 315 g all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon 14 g baking powder
- 2 teaspoon 10 g baking soda
- 1 teaspoon 7 g salt
- 2 teaspoons 10 g cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon 5 g nutmeg
- 1 cup 227 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1-1/4 cups 250 g golden brown sugar
- 4 eggs at room temperature
- 2 tsp 10 ml pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup 120 ml whole milk, at room temperature
- 2 pkgs 250 g each regular cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup 227 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¼ cup 60 ml sour cream or natural yogurt
- 1 teaspoon 5 ml pure vanilla extract
- 2½ cups 315 g icing sugar
- 1 cup 75 g sweetened flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray or oil two 9-inch round cake pans.
Finely chop drained pineapple, place in a sieve and press with a spoon to remove as much juice as possible. Grate carrots using a food processor. Measure out 4 cups and set aside.
Place flour in a large bowl. Sprinkle with baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir until blended.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until creamy. Gradually beat in sugar, then beat on medium for about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, then vanilla.
Beating on low speed, add about a third of flour mixture and beat just until mixed, followed by half the milk. Repeat additions, ending with flour. Batter will be very thick. Gradually mix in pineapple and carrots.
Divide between prepared pans and smooth with a small offset spatula. To remove air pockets, bang pans on counter 5 to 6 times. Bake until centers seem set when lightly tapped, about 40 to 45 minutes. Place on a baking rack to cool. After about 15 minutes, turn cakes out of pans and cool completely on racks. It’s best to bake cakes a day ahead of icing and leave at room temperature overnight.
Cut cream cheese into chunks. Place butter in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in sour cream and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and beat in cream cheese, piece by piece. Beating too much will cause thinning. Add about a third of the icing sugar and beat on low until just mixed in. Scrape sides of bowl and beaters occasionally.
Gradually add remaining sugar, beating just until smooth. If too thick or thin, work in a little sour cream or sugar. Remove about a quarter of the icing to be used on top cake layer and set aside. Stir coconut into the remaining icing.
Slice cakes horizontally in half. Place top of 1 cake, dome-side down, on a platter. Spread with a third of the coconut icing leaving a narrow border of cake around edge.
Lay the bottom of that cake, cut-side down, on top. Spread with half the remaining coconut icing, leaving a narrow cake border. Top with the bottom half of the second cake, cut-side down. Spread with the remaining coconut icing, leaving a cake border.
Top with the final layer, cut-side down. Spread with plain icing right to the edges. Garnish with toasted, fresh coconut. Best to refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving.
- You may also find this previous post helpful: 50 Tips for Baking Better Cakes
- If you find the coconut icing too runny, add small amounts of icing sugar until desired consistency is achieved.
- For a quick and easy topping, you can toast flaked (sweetened or unsweetened) coconut on a baking sheet at 350° F for about 12 minutes, or until golden brown, and sprinkle on top of cake.
- This cake cuts best with a very sharp, serrated knife.
Good luck & enjoy!