Deluxe Carrot Cake With Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

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Like many recipes found in the cookbook Applehood and Motherpie, this Deluxe Carrot Cake is a time-tested favorite. This old-fashioned cake is made from scratch and perfect for any occasion, although it is an excellent springtime dessert for holiday gatherings.

Like I said, this recipe is an adaptation of the Deluxe Carrot Cake found in the vintage upstate New York cookbook Applehood and Motherpie. The cookbook was a fundraising effort by the Rochester Junior League in 1980 and became an instant classic. Jam-packed with a plethora of incredible recipes, almost everyone had a copy in their kitchen at one point. 

The original recipe was for a naked-sided cake, and while it was delicious I wanted a completely frosted cake and increased the amount of frosting. The actual cake is identical to the recipe as written in the cookbook.

Carrot Cake Ingredients

The ingredients you need for this cake are simple, and I bet you have quite a few of them already in your kitchen! The full recipe is below, but here is a quick overview:

  • Flour: King Arthur All-Purpose Flour is my go-to flour for baking. KAF mills wheat to a specific protein count instead of a range, which can help your baking results be more consistent.
  • Sugar: Granulated white sugar is what works best for this recipe.
  • Baking Soda: The leavening ingredient in this cake is baking soda. This will give the cake rise. 
  • Salt: Salt helps to balance the sweetness.
  • Cinnamon: Gives this cake just enough spice and makes it taste amazing.
  • Eggs: I use four whole large chicken eggs in this recipe.
  • Vanilla: Look for high-quality vanilla to use.
  • Oil: This carrot cake is oil-based rather than butter-based. The oil creates a moist cake that lasts for days. 
  • Carrots: Carrots serve to moisten the cake, add texture, and provide a bit of sweetness. I used a kitchen scale to weigh out my carrots AFTER they were grated. Measuring cups also work well if you don’t have a kitchen scale. 
  • Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting: The sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting is the perfect complement to carrot cake. The cake is garnished with toasted coconut, adding a little texture and more flavor to classic carrot cake. 

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

The tanginess of the cream cheese is the perfect match for the moist, dense carrot cake. 

All you need to make this cream cheese frosting are:  

  • Sweetened Flaked Coconut- The toasted coconut creates a beautiful garnish and sweet crunch.
  • Cream Cheese- For the best flavor, use full-fat cream cheese.
  • Butter– Make sure the butter is thoroughly softened to make your frosting as creamy as possible.
  • Vanilla– Adds a delicate flavor and great aroma to the frosting
  • Confectioner’s Sugar-For a smooth and clump-free frosting use powdered or confectioners sugar.

How To Make Carrot Cake

Even though carrot cake is an impressive homemade dessert, it’s almost effortless to make. Here’s a quick overview of the steps:

  1. Preheat the oven, and prepare three 8-inch cake pans.
  2. Whisk dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  3. Blend sugars and wet ingredients in a separate bowl using an electric mixer.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix just to combine.
  5. Add carrots and chopped nuts, and mix to distribute through the batter.
  6. Pour batter evenly into the three prepared pans and bake until cooked through.
  7. Cool completely, then frost.

How To Make The Cream Cheese Frosting

This frosting is very easy to make, but for best results, make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature. 

  • Melt two tablespoons of the butter in a skillet over medium to medium-low heat. Add coconut and stir with a wooden spoon constantly until golden brown. Remove from heat, and spread on a paper towel to cool.
  • Beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy in a mixing bowl, about 5 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until combined. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated. If the frosting is too thin, add more confectioner’s sugar. Conversely, add a splash of milk if the frosting is too thick. 
Deluxe Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Deluxe Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 3-Layer 8-inch Round Cake
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

This carrot cake recipe is an adaptation of the Deluxe Carrot Cake found in the cookbook, Applehood and Motherpie. It is moist, perfectly-spiced and made with lots of fresh carrots and a cream cheese frosting with a coconut garnish that is as pretty as it is tasty.


Carrot Cake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup cooking oil
  • 4 cups grated raw carrots (about 1 pound)
  • ¾ cup chopped nuts

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 cups coconut
  • 2 cups (two 8-ounce blocks) cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Carrot Cake

  1. Heat the oven to 350° degrees Fahrenheit (176 C). Grease three 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper then grease the top of the paper. Or, grease and flour the bottom and sides of pans.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy. Slowly beat in oil.
  4. Add the flour mixture slowly to the wet ingredients. Mixing until smooth.
  5. Mix in the carrots and nuts.
  6. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake until the tops of the cake layers are springy when touched and when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes.
  7. Cool cakes in pans for 15 minutes then turn out onto cooling racks, peel off parchment paper and cool completely.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet over medium to medium low heat. Add coconut and stir with a wooden spoon constantly until golden brown. Remove from heat, and spread on a paper towel to cool.
  2. Combine the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat until well blended and smooth.
  3. Add confectioner's sugar, ½ a cup at a time. After each cup has been incorporated, turn the mixer onto the highest speed setting and for about 10 seconds to lighten the frosting.
  4. To frost the cake, place the first cake on your serving platter, add a large scoop of frosting on top of it, and spread the frosting so that it covers the cake evenly and extends a bit over the edges. Repeat with the second and third layers of the cake. Then use the remainder of the frosting to frost all around the side edges and the top of the cake. Sprinkle the frosted cake with toasted coconut.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 14 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 659Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 526mgCarbohydrates: 101gFiber: 3gSugar: 81gProtein: 6g

Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimates. Please see my Nutrition Disclaimer for more information.

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