Perfect Carrot Cake (Carb Diva Style)

Updated on August 3, 2017
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Exploring food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes... one ingredient at a time.

Today is my birthday. I won't say how many years, but suffice it to say I was alive during the Eisenhower administration. Of course, a birthday requires the baking of a birthday cake. Today is also National Carrot Cake Day, the day on which we celebrate a treat that has been around since the Middle Ages. (Hey, it's older than me!) In the Middle Ages, sugar and other sweeteners were rare and very expensive, so people used sweet vegetables to flavor their puddings.

According to, the use of sweet fruits and vegetables in baked goods became obsolete as sugar and honey became less costly, but resurfaced in the 20thcentury. During World War II, the British government rationed many luxury foods and household staples including sugar. To appease the nation’s sweet tooth, the Ministry of Food promoted recipes for carrot puddings, carrot-filled pies, and carrot cakes. Today, many families in the UK still serve carrot cake on Christmas Day!

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 45 min
Ready in: 1 hour 5 min
Yields: One 9x13-inch cake
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups shredded carrots, raw
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 8-oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch cake pan.
  3. Sift together the first 6 ingredients (flour through nutmeg) and set aside. Place the sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Mix together with a spoon.
  4. Add the dry (flour) mixture, and then stir in the carrots, coconut, walnuts, and pineapple.
  5. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Cool and frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting.

What makes this recipe work?

  • The addition of applesauce serves two purposes--first, it substitutes for some of the cooking oil. And the acid of the apples reacts with the baking soda to provide more lift (leavening) to this dense cake batter.
  • Flaked coconut and pineapple provide some natural sweetness.
  • Chopped walnuts contribute texture and a satisfying crunch.

Fun facts about carrots

  • Carrots originated in Afghanistan and were introduced to Europe about 1,000 years ago. They were purple in color, not orange.
  • The weed/flower Queen Ann’s Lace is actually a wild carrot.
  • In the 1930's Jello brand gelatine introduced "carrot pie flavored Jello".

© 2014 Linda Lum


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    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 20 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bravewarrior - Oh yes, you must! That way you will be assured of getting exactly what you want. Carrot cake is so moist and full of flavor--I find that I don't even want the frosting (...or at least as much).

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 20 months ago from Central Florida

      I love carrot cake! Maybe I'll bake one for my birthday next year.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 3 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Hi thefedorows - thanks for the kind words. Let me know how your cake turns out.

    • thefedorows profile image

      thefedorows 3 years ago from the Midwest

      I like the idea of adding coconut! Yum! I don't have that in my recipe. Unfortunately, my husband is not a fan of I will just have to imagine what it is like. The addition of applesauce, however, is something I could try! Making a note of it on my recipe card.