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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