Go Back
My favorite carrot cake with detailed instructions for assembling a triple-layer cake. The cake includes apple sauce, and is topped with cream cheese, and an optional flurry of coconut flakes.
Print Recipe
3 from 1 vote

My Favorite Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

My Favorite Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing Recipe Type : Dessert Author: Susan Pridmore Serves: Serves 8
Author: Susan Pridmore



  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter for greasing the cake pans
  • 2 cups 9 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (remove 2 tablespoons for baking at 7000')
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder use 3/4 teaspoon for baking at 7000'
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda use 1/2 teaspoon for baking at 7000'
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • Zest of 1 navel orange using orange parts only
  • 1/2 cup safflower or other neutral vegetable oil (add 1 1/2 teaspoons when baking at 7000')
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins optional
  • 1 pound carrots trimmed, peeled, and finely grated on the smallest holes of a box grater or the fine grating blade of food processor (about 3 lightly packed cups total)


  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, chilled
  • 11 tablespoons unsalted butter softened at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar sifted after measuring
  • 2 tablespoons sweetened coconut



  • Use a little more than half of the butter to grease three 6" cake pans. Trace one of the pans on a sheet of parchment paper, and fold the paper to make it triple layer. Cut out the circle using the triple layers. This is just a time saver so you don't have to cut out three individual circles. Place the parchment circles on the bottoms of each pan, and butter them as well. NOTE: alternatively you can use two 9" cake pans and make a double layer cake.
  • Preheat the oven to 375˚F at sea level, or 380˚ at 7000'.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice in a medium bowl. Whisk the dry ingredients thorough to ensure an even dispersing of the ingredients.
  • Remove any lumps in the brown sugar and pour it all into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add one egg at a time, completely mixing it into the brown sugar before adding the next. Mix in the orange zest, and gradually add the oil in a steady stream. Finish off by adding the apple sauce and raisins (if using).
  • Fold in the dry ingredients in three stages using a rubber spatula, followed by the shredded carrots.
  • Divide the batter between the three cake pans and smooth to make the tops as smooth and even as possible. You may have a little left over for a couple of cupcakes. Bake until the layers are firm to the touch, and the sides slightly lift away from the pan, about 25 minutes (30 minutes at 7000'). A thin knife inserted in the center of the cake should emerge clean.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to let cool for 5 minutes in the pans, run a sharp knife around the sides of the pans, and invert the cake layers onto the rack. Do not peel off the parchment paper until the cakes are completely cooled, and you're ready to assemble and frost the cake. I usually make any cake 1 day ahead of a party, cool, and double wrap in saran. I leave the cake on the counter. If I make the cake more than 1 day ahead, I refrigerate it. Alternatively it can be frozen for at least a month.


  • Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Once it's smooth, add the vanilla extract and the sugar in three stages. Mix until smooth and creamy - about 2 minutes.


  • Cut 4 strips of parchment or wax paper, about 3 inches wide X 4" long. Place them on the serving plate you plan to use for the cake, forming a square that the cake will sit on. Remove the parchment paper from the bottom of one of the cake layers, and place it on the strips. This is to keep the serving plate clean while you ice the cake. At the end, these strips will be removed.
  • Spread one-fifth of the icing on the top of the cake layer, being sure to keep it even. I just eye-ball the amount - I don't actually measure or weight it.
  • Remove the parchment paper from the bottom of a second cake layer, and gently place it on top of the first. Spread one-fifth of the icing on the top of this second layer.
  • Remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the third cake layer, and gently place on top of the second layer. Be sure the cake is straight. Using an offset spatula (a type of spatula designed for icing cakes) spread one-fifth of the icing on the sides of the cake, or maybe a little more. I don't put a lot on the sides, so that it's a semi-naked cake, but if you prefer more, just use a little less icing on the interlayers.
  • Spread the final two-fifths of the icing on the top, and lightly sprinkle with sweetened coconut.
  • Gently remove the parchment paper strips when you're done.
  • Enjoy!