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Carrot Cake with Pineapple 

A slice of carrot cake, two layers with white icing and small purple and yellow flowers on top. the cake is standing up on a small white plate with a fork next to it.

Edible spring flowers, like violets and redbud, make cake decorating easy (Kayte Young/WFIU)

This cake has been a favorite of mine since the mid 1990s. It comes from a cookbook by Delores Riccio called Superfoods: 300 Recipes that Heal Body and Mind. This one is from the carrot section. The pineapple adds moisture and so much flavor. I use the grater attachment on my food processor for the carrots. It makes quick work of 6 carrots.

The original version is an unfrosted snacking cake, but I think it works nicely as a layer cake with cream cheese icing. The icing recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan at New York Times Cooking

Carrot Cake with Pineapple 

This recipe makes a two layer cake plus 4 muffins.

For the cake

3 cups all-purpose flour (you could sub 1 cup with whole wheat flour)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

4 eggs

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

3 cups peeled and finely grated carrots (about 6 medium)

2 8 oz cans of crushed pineapple

1 cup of chopped walnuts (optional)

For the frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3¾ cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Edible flowers such as violets and redbud, when available (optional). 

Method

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter two 9-inch cake pans and for cups of a muffin tin.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large bowl. 

In another bowl, beat the eggs with the oil then blend in the brown and white sugars. 

In a third bowl, combine the carrots, pineapple with its juice, and walnuts (note, if the crushed pineapple has big chunks, you might want to pulse it a few times in a food processor). 

Beat the egg-oil mixture into the dry ingredients. When well blended, stir in the carrot-pineapple mixture. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans. You will likely have extra batter, enough to fill 4 muffin tins (bonus!).

Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 30 to 40 min. Or until the cakes have risen and a toothpick inserted in the  middle comes out dry (check the muffins after 25 minutes, they won’t take as long to bake).

Cool the cakes on a rack for 5 or 10 minutes before removing from the cake pans. Cool the cakes completely before adding the icing.

While the cake cools, make the icing. Beat together the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until the frosting is smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.

Place one cake, right side up on a plate or cake stand.  If  the cakes are especially domed on top, use a bread knife to carefully slice off some of the top, to make a more flat surface. You can also skip this and just fill in the gap with extra frosting.

Frost the top of this layer generously, pushing the frosting all the way to the edges of the cake. Place the second layer on top, but flip it so that the bottom side is up. 

Spread a thin layer of icing around the sides of the two layer cake, and don’t worry too much about full coverage. Use a butter knife or an offset spatula to make a smooth edge all around the cake. 

Next, generously frost the top of the cake and smooth it out for the decoration (or create a texture on top, if you prefer). 

For simple springtime decoration, arrange edible flowers such as violets and redbud on the top of the cake. Another option is finely chopped nuts sprinkled around the edge of the cake. You could also color some of the icing orange and green (with food coloring), and pipe a carrot design in the center. 

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