Bill’s Big Carrot Cake

Cake, Desserts, Easter, Tuesdays with Dorie / Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Carrot cake 1

My birthday was last Sunday, and my sister’s was on Friday, which means last weekend was a birthday extravaganza, filled with grilled steaks and twice-baked potatoes, brownie pie, baked brie, Belgian waffles, a picnic in the park, and a wedge of chocolate cake so uncompromising I know it’s still sitting, like the Lincoln Memorial, in one of my arteries.

Such gluttony, mere days after “The Biggest Loser” finale! Beatings, beatings, beatings.

This morning, I was back to the breakfast of the penitent: high-fiber cereal, 1% milk, and shame. But then I remembered this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie challenge, Bill’s Big Carrot Cake. And out came the butter, the sugar and the cream cheese.

Oh, well. Everything in moderation. That’s why I turned Bill’s Big Carrot Cake into cupcakes. Portion-control and DENIAL.

Bill’s Big Carrot Cake

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From My Home to Yours”


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • ½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 4 large eggs

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 pound or 3 and ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
  • ½ cup shredded coconut (optional)
  • Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)
  1. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds, and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans. Put two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.
  2. For the Cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.
  3. Working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.
  4. Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.)
  5. For the Frosting: Working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.
  6. If you’d like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting into a bowl and stir in the coconut.
  7. To Assemble the Cake: Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added coconut to the frosting, use half to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake top side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top–and the sides-of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft.

Carrot cake 2

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38 thoughts on “Bill’s Big Carrot Cake

  1. I could just lick my screen when I see your cupcake!

    p.s. Any chance of getting an invite to your next family gathering, it sounds like you folks know how to eat! ;-)

  2. Oh do I understand those words, portion control and denial. I am really BAD about the denial part. I am giving the rest of the cake away today! Cupcakes are a good idea.

  3. Cupcakes are great for portion control! i made mine that way too. Its so much easier to give away as well. You can’t exactly give away a 9″ cake that has a slice taken out of it already =)

  4. THREE 9×2″ pans! This cake must be gigantic! That frosting is the perfect off-white, eggshell color. How many (and what size) muffin tins did you use?

  5. Elizabeth: I used two regular muffin pans, so I wound up with 24 cupcakes.

    This is a good recipe for making substitutions, too. You can take out part of the carrots and add an equal amount of pineapple. Trade raisins for dried cranberries or walnuts for pecans. It’s not very finicky.

  6. Cupcakes are great for portion control. Unfortunately I am discovering I am a bit of a glutton! Your cupcakes look fabulously delicious and have me wanting it all over again!

  7. Thanks for your comment on my blog – I never imagined someone actually reading it. Your cupcakes are a great idea. On the subject of denial I gave the whole cake to the teachers at the school where I work for a coffee break treat!

  8. Happy belated birthday!

    I think it was Mae West who pronounced that too much of a good thing is wonderful. :) That’s how I approach portion control in my moments of denial.

  9. What a yummy picture! Cupcakes are always so photogenic, but yours are quite exceptional :)!

    We would like to feature your adapted carrot cake recipe on our blog. Please email if interested. Thanks :)

    You can view our blog here:

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