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High Altitude Carrot Cake Recipe

Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" and "Taste of Home". She belongs to Cook's Recipe Testers for "Cook's Illustrated".


High Altitude Baking

If you live at high altitude, you have most likely struggled with baking. Cakes often turn out dry or, even worse, rise and collapse or sink in the middle. Since carrot cakes are moist, they are a perfect choice for high altitude baking.

This cake recipe has been tested at 9,000 feet. If you are baking at a lower altitude, try adding 1/8 teaspoonful of leavening per 1,000 feet.

This cake is easy to make and sure to please your family and friends. It will make a large sheet cake, 2 two-layer cakes or 24 cupcakes, perfect for a crowd. And don't forget that carrot cake freezes well! We have also included a recipe for easy cream cheese frosting that's an ideal complement for this carrot cake. Enjoy!


  • Measure carrots by loosely (not tightly) packing them in the measuring cup.
  • Squeeze extra moisture from pineapple and grated carrots.
  • Grate carrots on a fine grate for a cake with a tender crumb. Use a larger grate for more texture.
  • You can use either canned or fresh pineapple. If using fresh pineapple, chop finely and squeeze out extra moisture.
  • If you enjoy nuts, try toasting them for texture and sprinkling them over the top of the frosting. This adds visual appeal and allows those who don't enjoy nuts to scrape them off the top.

High Altitude Carrot Cake

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

20 min

1 hour

1 hour 20 min

1 large sheet cake or 24 cupcakes

Use fresh pineapple and carrots for best flavor

Use fresh pineapple and carrots for best flavor


  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour milk, (1 Tablespoon white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups white or raw sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated carrot
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, squeezed dry
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda*
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder*

*If baking at sea level, increase to 1 1/2 teaspoonfuls each of baking powder and baking soda.

Ready for baking

Ready for baking

Ingredients By Weight:

  • 4 eggs
  • 240 grams milk
  • 168 grams oil
  • 319 grams sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 384 grams all-purpose flour
  • 150 grams grated carrot
  • 225 grams crushed pineapple, squeezed dry
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder


  1. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch cake pan or line a cupcake tin with paper liners. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine sour milk, oil, eggs, vanilla extract and sugar. Beat well.
  3. In another medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda and powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Combine.
  4. Mix dry and wet ingredients together. Fold in pineapple and grated carrot.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour. Begin checking the cake for doneness at 50 minutes. When a toothpick tests clean, the cake can be removed from the oven.
  6. Cool completely before frosting.
Add 1 cup of rum-soaked raisins for extra flavor.

Add 1 cup of rum-soaked raisins for extra flavor.

Try Any of These Add-ins With the Grated Carrots and Pineapple:


1 cup



1 cup


rum soaked

1 cup

pecans or walnuts,


Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 2 sticks (200 grams) salted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon each vanilla and almond extracts
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 3 cups powdered (confectioners') sugar


  1. In a medium bowl, whip cream cheese and butter until creamy. Use either a hand mixer or stand mixer.
  2. Add vanilla and milk. Whip until smooth.
  3. Gradually whip in powdered sugar until frosting is stiff enough to spread.
Carrot Cake With Nuts

Carrot Cake With Nuts

Why Carrot Cakes Should Be Oil-Based:

Although carrot cake can be butter-based, the traditional version is oil-based. This is because the cakes are traditionally frosted with a cream cheese icing that should be refrigerated. Oil-based cakes don't harden when stored in the refrigerator, which means they don't have to be returned to room temperature before eating.

Carrot Cupcakes

Carrot Cupcakes

Questions & Answers

Question: How long are the cupcakes baked for?

Answer: You need to bake cupcakes 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center tests clean.

© 2014 Vespa Woolf


Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on November 30, 2014:

Sallybea, grated orange peel is also delicious! I hope you enjoy this pineapple version. Thanks for your comment.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on November 30, 2014:

Thanks for your kind words Glimmer Twin Fan!

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on November 30, 2014:

That looks yummy, hope to try this one very soon. I love the addition of pineapple - not tried that before. I tasted one which had grated orange rind instead and that was quite delicious.

Claudia Mitchell on November 30, 2014:

I'm loving your high altitude baking series Vespa. It doesn't hurt that I love the recipes too!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on October 21, 2014:

Shraddhachawla, high altitude baking can be a real challenge but this recipe is tested and foolproof. Thanks for your comment!

shraddhachawla on October 21, 2014:

Looks delicious ! Packed with good health, your carrot cake recipe is great. Didn't know that it could be difficult to bake a cake at great heights. Thanks for sharing Vespa.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on October 21, 2014:

Thanks AliciaC!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 20, 2014:

This sounds like an excellent recipe. I love the idea of adding rum-soaked raisins to the mix!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on October 20, 2014:

DDE, thank you for your enthusiasm for this carrot cake! It really is tasty.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 20, 2014:

Incredible! The recipe sounds delicious and nutritious. i like the photos and would certainly try this one.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on October 19, 2014:

Ericdierker, what a delicious idea! Dried dates would be a great addition to this cake.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 19, 2014:

Very cool, my mom's was adjusted for 7,000 ft. And we called it "ten pound cake". Seems like she did not use pineapple but dates?

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