TWD: Bill’s Big Carrot Cake

Well, here I come bringing up the rear again. I had fully intended to make these this weekend, but you know how it is when real life gets in the way. And we grilled out yesterday, which meant that our fridge was filled with tons of leftovers, so I didn’t get around to making these until just a few minutes ago.


This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, Bill’s Big Carrot Cake, was chosen by Amanda of slow like honey. I have to admit, I deviated a little bit this week. There was no way I wanted to have to eat my way through a huge three-layer carrot cake, so I halved the recipe for the cake and made six jumbo cupcakes instead of a layer cake. I did, however, keep the frosting recipe as a full batch, so I could pipe nice fluffy tops onto the cupcakes. I finished them with a little bit of toasted coconut. It took roughly 35 minutes of baking for them to be done.

The frosting came together easily, and since I wasn’t sure how the combination of lemon and carrot cake would taste, I used half of the lemon juice as called for in the recipe. I haven’t tasted the finished product yet (I’m still waiting for the icing to set), but the individual components taste great so I’m sure the combination of the two are divine.

Bill’s Big Carrot Cake
recipe from “Baking: From My Home to Yours” courtesy Dorie Greenspan

For the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted w/ a shredding a blade or use a box grater)
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

For the frosting:
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)

Getting ready:
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

To make the cake:
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. 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.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. 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.

To make the frosting:
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, 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.

If you’d like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.

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 the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting 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 stop 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. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.

This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it’s good plain, it’s even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.

The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it’s firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.

19 thoughts on “TWD: Bill’s Big Carrot Cake

  1. Gretchen Noelle

    Adorable! I wish I had made much more frosting for my mini cakes. These look just adorable. I hope that the carrot cake with the lemon flavored frosting is something you end up enjoying!

  2. Amanda

    I’m glad you enjoyed the cakes. I was actually going to make cupcakes with this recipe as well, but then I thought why not?! Bake the whole thing and if you end up with tighter jeans, so be it. But I had my hostess hat on so I kind of had too 🙂

  3. Farhan

    I made this cake 3 times in the last 2 weeks and bought Dorie’s book because of this recipe!

    Your cupcakes look much better than mine though and I loved the lemon flavour of the frosting..

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