Carrot Cake Sheet Cake with Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting
I’m not going to lie, carrot cake is one of my all-time favorites. I could eat it all year round! So naturally I get a little excited when spring comes and carrot everything is everywhere! I thought that this year for Easter I’d do something super simple and make a carrot sheet cake. It’s so incredibly moist and flavorful, even carrot cake haters will gobble it up! And that pineapple cream cheese frosting…where to start?
We had my brother-in-law over for dinner and he (who happens to really dislike frosting) said that he loved it (he even had two servings)! It was such a huge compliment. I mean, I like frosting, but I really love this one. It’s creamy, fluffy and flecked with tiny pieces of sweet pineapple… it works perfectly with the flavor of this cake.
Speaking of the cake- it can easily be made in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. You’ll need about 3 cups of shredded carrots, a handful of eggs, brown and granulated sugar, oil, applesauce, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, vanilla and most important, spices! I love using a generous amount of ground cinnamon along with nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Using individual spices is what makes this cake taste so amazing! Although the brown sugar helps too :)
There are also a few tips and tricks I have for you that I think really make this cake perfect. First off, use a mixture of finely grated and regular grated carrots. Then let your grated/shredded carrots sit in the mixture of sugars/applesauce/oil and vanilla. I like to let them sit in there while I prep the rest of the ingredients and get my oven preheated. Next, use room temperature eggs- I know I say this a lot, but it makes a difference in how your cake bakes and the final texture. Don’t overmix your batter. Duh, but really, when it comes to making cakes, the less you work it the better. You want a fluffy, tender crumb. And finally, bang your pan on the counter a few times before tossing it in the oven to remove any excess air/bubbles.
If you want to customize your batter, go for it! You can mix in chopped pecans or walnuts, extra pineapple, raisins (just make sure to re-hydrate them) or even coconut. When you’ve got your cake mixed up, pour it into a prepared 9×13 pan and toss it into the oven for about 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees. Keep an eye on it, all ovens vary. Just like any other cake, the top should spring back when done.While it’s cooling, whip up the frosting. I used my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe and added some minced pineapple to it (you can used crushed but all I had was tidbits).
The frosting was heavenly. I used a splash of my Tahitian vanilla to give it more of a tropical flavor. I’ll definitely be using this frosting again and again for this sheet cake recipe! When you’ve got it spread over the cake in a nice even layer, pop it in the refrigerator until it has set. Generally I like to make this cake in the morning and allow it rest until after dinner, that way the flavors meld together, but you can make it the day before and leave it in overnight if you plan on using it for brunch or lunch (of course you can frost it and eat it right away too).
I guarantee everyone will love this carrot cake sheet cake- it’s the best! Enjoy & happy baking!
- For the Carrot Cake:
- 1¼ c. granulated sugar
- ¾ c. brown sugar, packed
- 1⅓ c. vegetable oil (see NOTES**)
- ⅓ c. unsweetened applesauce
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 c. grated carrots (about 3-4 large or 5-6 medium) (see NOTES*)
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 2⅔ c. all-purpose flour
- 1¼ tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ¾ tsp. salt
- 2½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp. ground ginger
- ⅛ tsp. ground cloves
- For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 3 c. powdered sugar
- ½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 oz. (1 block) original cream cheese, room temperature for 30 minutes
- ¼ c. crushed or minced pineapple, drained (see NOTES***)
- ¼ + ⅛ tsp. salt
- 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugars, oil, applesauce, vanilla and carrots, mix to combine, then allow to sit.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray or butter/flour a 9x13-inch pan, set aside.
- In a medium size mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.
- In the large mixing bowl (with the wet ingredients) add eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated. Slowly add in dry ingredients, go extra slow if using a stand mixer so it doesn't fly out. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl just to be sure everything is thoroughly combined. Pour into the prepared pan and tap on the counter three times to release an trapped air.
- Place in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a cake tester (or toothpick) inserted into center of cake comes out with just a few little moist crumbs on it and the top springs back when touched. Make sure not to over-bake the cake or you'll end up with a dry crumb. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 1 hour.
- Meanwhile to prepare the cream cheese frosting, using the paddle attachment cream the butter, vanilla and salt for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. With mixing speed on low gradually add the powdered sugar, beat until it forms a thick paste. Add cream cheese and mix on the lowest speed possible for 1 minute, add the pineapple and continue for an additional minute, then STOP! Spread it over the top of the cooled cake, then cover and place in refrigerator until needed.
**You can sub out the ⅓ c. of oil for additional unsweetened applesauce. That will make it 1 c. of oil and ⅔ c. of applesauce. Just know that the cake might be slightly more dense.
***I pushed my pineapple through a mesh sieve to remove excess juice. It's ok if it's moist, but not dripping.
Recipe source: adapted from Cook's Illustrated via Food.com