My whole life, I’d been pretty indifferent to carrot cake–until last summer, when my neighbor introduced me to the best carrot cake recipe ever. Made by her childhood neighbors, the Pappas family, the cake was unlike any carrot cake I’d had before!
Each slice was a thick, textured, cinnamon-forward tangle of carrot and coconut infused with chunks of dates and the occasional raisin, just barely bound together by cake. It was moist without being greasy, and rich from crushed pineapple.* My favorite part? The frosting was a sugary buttercream-esque cream cheese icing with the slightest tang to offset the pure sugary sweetness.
*No, the pineapple does not make this a hummingbird cake because hummingbird cakes have banana and no carrot! When using crushed pineapple, it melts into the cake texture, providing extra moisture and sweetness without explicit pineapple flavor.
When it came time to do the carrot cake bake off, I had to include this recipe! This recipe is proportionally similar to the Silver Palate recipe except it uses grated carrots and slightly less sugar and oil. It also adds raisins and dates. The cake itself is less sweet, but the addition of fruit adds the perfect amount of sweetness.
As for the actual origin of this recipe, Mrs. Pappas got this from a girl from South America in college when she lived in a coop. When asking for the recipe, I received the recipe card below. There are no instructions because you can really: “mix it any way you want or just all together at once.”
In the below recipe, I outline the steps I use to make this cake. But I’ve also tried mixing everything together at once and it worked well! It’s truly one of the easiest carrot cake recipes I’ve ever made.
Huge thanks to the Pappas Family for this amazing carrot cake recipe!
Thanks also to Happy Earth Compost for rescuing all the scraps from my carrot cakes (namely carrot peels and egg shells)! If you live in Houston or Bryan/College Station, be sure to check out their convenient compost pick up service. And yes, you can also request compost back from them!
You can check out the Happy Earth pricing plans here. If you’d like to sign up, you can use code Pancakeprincess25 for 25% off of your first month!
- Make sure to include the juice when adding the canned pineapple
- You can shred carrots in a food processor or grate them coarsely/finely by hand–your preference
- If frosting isn’t thick enough, add more powdered sugar
- If the cake (bundt version) isn’t done after 1 hour, use the toothpick test. It’s done once the toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
Pappas Family Carrot Cake
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2.5 cups sugar
- 3 tsp baking soda
- 3 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/3 cups vegetable or canola oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 16 oz carrots, shredded
- 1 1/3 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
- 1 cup dates, chopped
- 1 cup pecans, chopped
- 8 oz crushed pineapple with juice
- 1/2 cup raisins
Cream cheese frosting
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- 4 cups powdered sugar
Make the carrot cake
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a bundt pan or 3 8 or 9" pans.
- Whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, salt. Whisk in the eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla until smooth. Fold in the carrots, then the coconut, dates, pecans, crushed pineapple with juice and raisins until evenly incorporated.
- Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and bake for 1 hour (bundt pan) or ~30-45 minutes in the 8 or 9" pans (9" pans should cook faster), or until the tester comes out clean and the cake springs back after being poked. Let cakes cool completely before icing (let cakes cool in the 8/9" pans for 5-10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack).
Make the cream cheese frosting
- Beat together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and salt on medium until smooth and creamy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until all the sugar is incorporated, then beat on medium-high for another 5 minutes until white and billowy.
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Its really yummy to eat.
The Pappas Family Carrot Cake recipe is a must-try for any carrot cake lover. Moist and flavorful with the perfect balance of spices and sweetness.
Thanks, Erika for sharing.
The Recipe Hoarder
I loved the photos and was intrigued enough to give it a try. Such an interesting set of ingredients! Cinnamon, eggs, carrots, dates, pecans and raisins in one dish! Love the interesting taste, the moistness and the look!
first off I really love your blog and the recipes you create! I especially love the carrot cake recipe which I’ve done several times now, however the last two times the oil did not want to incorporate into the batter. It was really lumpy and when I took it out of the oven and gave it a taste, it was drier than usual and tasted off.
There definitely is something that I’ve done wrong but I can’t seem to figure out what.. do you have any idea what could’ve caused the oil to separate?
To anyone who reads this: You need to try this cake, it tastes so amazing and pro-tip: BROWN THE BUTTER!!! Makes all the difference! TRUST ME ON THIS!!!
Can you omit date & raisins?
These just look fantastic 🙂 Great job.
One of my favorite cakes. Totally juicy and super tasty!
I am a long time Pappas family carrot cake snob. It is the best on the planet.
I made this cake and meticulously followed the recipe. It is fabulous but it isn’t the same cake sold in Pappas restaurants.
This recipe comes from my neighbor’s family friends, the Pappas! Not related to the Pappas restaurants 🙂
Love a great carrot cake recipe with raisins!
Can I make this cake just 2 layers and use the exact recipe I only have 2 9” pan. Please advise
You would probably have to reduce the recipe by a third in order to do that! The recipe as written would fill 3 9″ pans.
I made this Carrot Cake yesterday and hands down one of the best! Didn’t have dates, but used everything else in your recipe. I love coconut anything, so used coconut oil as you recommended, The raisins looked a little dry so I microwaved them in coconut rum for a minute before adding, Also used carrots fresh from my garden!
So glad you enjoyed, sounds amazing!!
Hello, could I omit the coconut and if I do, do I need to replace it with more flour? Would appreciate your suggestions. Thank you in advance!
Hi there, you can easily omit the coconut and no substitution will be required!
kathyrn Ozain Bellard
Can I omit the pineapples and dates from the recipe, allergic to pineapples
Yes you can, it shouldn’t affect the flavor/texture too much!
This is just like my families carrot cake. My dad makes it for my mom every year for her birthday. I love this cake so much. I make it for Easter now each year.
I made this recipe and it was amazing! My family said best carrot cake they ever had. Do you think I could make this into cupcakes? If so any suggestions on how long to bake?
Oh, also, I was worried about there not being enough frosting for our taste so I doubled the frosting recipe. I used about 3/4 of it to frost in between layers and cover the cake— it was just right!
The BEST carrot cake! I omitted the raisins and dates at the request of some family members, and it was still amazing. I will try it with them next time!
But seriously, so moist and delicious. This is what carrot cake dreams are made of. I toasted the pecans beforehand and baked the cake in 3 9” pans for 30 minutes. It was perfect! I will be using this recipe forever! Thank you for sharing!
Kiersten, thank you SO MUCH for leaving your review!! So glad to hear that you and your family enjoyed!!