This stunning Naked Carrot Cake is pure carrot, walnut, coconut and pineapple-filled bliss coated with tangy real cream cheese frosting.
When I first found out this year that carrot cakes are apparently a spring dessert, you could’ve knocked me down with a feather. Call me naive, but all my life I saw carrot cake as inherently autumn-esque: rich, moist cake loaded with a cornucopia of nuts, coconut, fruit and of course a large helping of fresh, thinly grated carrots.
It got me thinking, why is a carrot cake associated with spring? After all, carrots are in season from August to November where I live in Eastern Ontario, a decidedly ‘fall’ time of year. But while perusing Google Trends (a nifty tool for bloggers—or really anybody—to see when keywords are searched most often during the year), I found that the largest spikes in traffic were in March and April each year, with a smaller spike for October/November.
Chalk it up to the Easter Bunny with its love of carrot munching? I suppose we’ll have to.
Whether you choose to partake in carrot cake in the spring, fall or any other season, my recommendation is to do it in the nude. No, not without clothing, but trying the relatively new ‘naked’ cake trend.
A naked carrot cake like this one is a cake that isn’t covered in a blanket layer of frosting on the outside, such as a ‘normal’ cake. Frosting is piped and spread in between layers to give a beautiful, rustic aesthetic to the cake and to show off the interesting layer detail. For my health-conscious friends, it also does double duty and cuts down on frosting intake.
Some cake purists may turn their nose up at this naked carrot cake’s seemingly messy frosting application in between the layers. While I do consider myself relatively gifted with a frosting bag, those who aren’t will be overjoyed. The point of a naked cake is to make it resemble a state of pleasing disarray. Woo hoo!
Luckily, the frosting job isn’t the only pleasing thing about this naked carrot cake. A sweet and savoury mix of walnuts, coconut flakes and crushed pineapple add a complex flavour to the already fantastic carrot cake base while the real cream cheese frosting fights back against the sweetness with a perfect cheese tang. This frosting is real cream cheese frosting, not the cream cheese-labelled frosting in a container. I promise that even if you usually like your frosting sweet, using a tangy version will better complement to the cake.
I brought this naked carrot cake as a showpiece dessert to my family’s Thanksgiving cottage getaway in Québec to rave reviews, even from the only person I’ve ever met to demand literally cups of frosting on any cake she eats—my mom.
It’s safe to say it’s Mom Approved!
Total Cost = $12.61 (Budget breakdown below recipe)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 and ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. nutmeg
- ¾ cup cow's milk
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 1 and ½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 and ½ cups shredded carrots
- 1 cup flaked coconut
- ¾ cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple with juice
- 2 (8 oz.) packages brick cream cheese, softened (I used one regular fat and one reduced fat)
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour three 8" round cake pans and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg until combined. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, add milk and 1 tsp. lemon juice and let side for 5 minutes. This creates a buttermilk substitute.
- In a large bowl, add the buttermilk mixture, eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Add in flour mixture and mix well.
- Using the now empty flour bowl, combine shredded carrots, coconut, walnuts and pineapple. Add the carrot mixture into the batter and mix.
- Pour into the three prepared cake pans and gently tap on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 mins or until cake is baked through and springs back when you touch it.
- While cake is cooling, in a medium bowl cream together cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until combined well. Add in vanilla and mix, then add in confectioner's sugar one cup at a time. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and store in fridge for at least 20 mins.
- To assemble, carefully remove cooled cakes from pans. Stack one layer on a plate or cake base, and spread with ⅓ of the frosting. Add second layer and repeat. Add third and final layer, and pipe small dollops of frosting around the top edges with a frosting bag or strong Ziplock bag. To get the rustic 'naked' look, pipe a small line of frosting in between layers like you're filling in the gap and then smooth and spread out with a flat knife.
- Serve immediately, or keep refrigerated until serving.
Recipe adapted from All Recipes for the cake and frosting.
2 cups all-purpose flour = $0.24
2 tsp. baking soda = $0.01
1/4 tsp. salt = $0.01
1 and 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon = $0.06
1/2 tsp. nutmeg = $0.02
2 eggs = $0.30
3/4 cup cow’s milk = $0.30
1 tsp. lemon juice = $0.01
3/4 cup vegetable oil = $0.26
1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar = $0.27
2 tsp. vanilla = $0.28
2 and 1/2 cups shredded carrots = $0.30
1 cup flaked coconut = $1.00
1 cup finely chopped walnuts = $2.47
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple with juice = $0.98
2 (8 oz.) packages brick cream cheese, softened = $5.00
1/2 cup butter, softened = $0.40
2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar = $0.56
1 tsp. vanilla = $0.14