The Best Carrot Cake On the Planet
Makes One 13-by-9-inch or two 9-inch layers
1 1/2 cups canola oil
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups grated carrots
One 8-ounce can crushed pineapple (do not drain)
1/2 cup chopped nuts of your choice
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 13 x 9-inch baking pan OR two 9-inch baking pans with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, beat together the oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
3. Add the carrots, pineapple, juice, nuts, and coconut stirring until blended.
4. Add the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon and stir to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes for the 13-by-9-inch, and 30 to 40 minutes for the layers.
5. Place the pan on a rack and let cool completely. Spread the top of the cake with the cream cheese frosting.
6. Do-Ahead: At this point, you can cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
Cook’s Note: The food processor will make short work of grating the carrots, but some grocers carry already grated carrots. These are a little drier than freshly grated carrots, so if you’re using them, add an extra 1/2 cup to the batter to make up for the lack of moisture.
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 6 cups, enough to frost two 9-inch layers, one 13 x 9-inch cake, or 48 cupcakes
One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine
5 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon orange extract or 1/2 teaspoon orange oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Milk, as needed to thin the frosting
1. Using an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter in a medium-size bowl.
2. Add the confectioners’ sugar and extracts and beat until the mixture is of spreadable consistency. If the frosting is too thick, beat in some milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
3. Do-Ahead: At this point, you can cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 6 months. I recommend you soften it at room temperature after it’s been refrigerated, so it’s easy to spread.
To Assemble the Bunny Cake
- Bake the carrot cake in two 9-inch round pans. When the rounds are cooled completely cut the sides of one cake into two tapered ovals to resemble rabbit ears, leaving the center to look like a bow tie.
- Arrange the other circle in the center of an 18-by-15-inch cardboard rectangle. Place the two ovals on either side of the whole cake circle, and arrange the bow tie underneath the circle.
- Frost the tops and sides of the cake.
- Arrange licorice whips for whiskers, and jelly beans for eyes and nose in the center circle.
- Tint 1 cup of coconut with 2 drops of green food coloringand sprinkle the coconut over the bow tie and sprinkle with a few jelly beans to look like polka dots.
- Tint 1 cup of coconut with 1 drop of red food coloring and sprinkle the coconut inside the “ears” of the rabbit.
- Sprinkle the rest of the untinted coconut over the rabbit’s face. If you aren’t serving the cake immediately, cover with plastic wrap for up to 24 hours.