Preheat and prep pans: preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly grease three 6" round cake pans (see notes). Line each with a piece of parchment, cut to fit in the bottom of the pan, then lightly grease the top of the parchment paper.
Prepare the “schtuff:” shred carrots on a cheese grater or using a food processor. Set aside. Stir together chopped pecans, raisins, and coconut in a small bowl and set aside.
Combine dry ingredients: in a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together to flour, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices and set aside.
Combine wet ingredients: in another bowl, whisk together pineapple, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla.
Combine the dries, wets, and melted butter: pour the wet ingredients and melted butter into the center of the dries and whisk together until well blended and smooth-ish by hand or using a mixer (it won’t go totally smooth because of the pineapple pieces).
Add carrots and “schtuff:” stir in the shredded carrots and raisin/pecan/coconut mix until evenly distributed throughout the batter.
Portion and bake: divide batter evenly between the 3 prepared pans and shake to level. Bake for 33-36 minutes until top is a deep golden brown, fully set, and springs back when lightly touched.
Un-pan and cool: allow cake to cool for 20 minutes in the pan. Then, use a knife or offset spatula to loosen the cake edges from the pan, un-pan the cakes, then allow to cool fully while preparing the frosting.
TO MAKE THE FROSTING:
Whip up the frosting: see our Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting recipe for all the details on how to whip up a batch! You'll want to do this as the cakes start cooking so you can then chill it for about 30 minutes until the cakes are fully cool. (If you’d like, you can prepare the frosting a day or two ahead of time, then allow it to come to room temperature on the counter for a few hours before you frost your cake.)
TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE:
Level cakes (only if needed): if your cakes have a high dome, level by using a serrated knife and cutting horizontally across the cake while holding the knife level. (If your cakes came out naturally level-ish, feel free to skip this step - I did!)
Adhere cake to serving plate: smear a tablespoon of frosting on your serving plate and press one layer of cake on onto the plate.
Fill a piping bag and stack layers: using a pastry bag, offset spatula or knife, add about ½ cup of frosting on top of the cake layer and spread into an even layer. Top with the second layer of cake (centering it and pressing it gently into the first layer of frosting), and top with another ½ cup of frosting spread evenly over the top. Finally, top with the third layer (placed on the frosting upside down for a nice, flat top), wiggle it to center and gently press down to fully adhere it to the frosting below.
Frost, decorate and enjoy! Use the remaining frosting to frost the entire cake, smoothing or swirling it to your heart’s desire. Add extra chopped pecans, toasted coconut flakes, or whatever other festive decorations you like. Slice and share for a delicious flavor-packed treat that will put a smile on your face any day of the week! (Be sure to store any leftovers - not that you're likely to have any - in the fridge, and thaw cake on the counter for at least an hour before enjoying for the tastiest experience).
Test Kitchen Tips
Pecans of walnuts? That is the question. Because I added pineapple to this carrot cake, I went the pecan route as I think they pair better with that fruity addition, but if you prefer walnuts in your carrot cake, feel free to swap those in!
How much frosting is enough frosting? The frosting batch size listed here is just enough for a fairly thin, smooth coat of frosting on your cake. If you'd like to pile on that cream cheese deliciousness, I recommend making a 1.5X batch and you can find all the details on that in our Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting post.
Resizing to an 9"x 13" Cake: if you prefer to bake this recipe as a quick and easy sheet cake, you can make this recipe as written and simply pour all the batter into a well-greased 9" x 13" pan. Your bake time will be about 28-32 minutes as this batter amount makes a pretty thin sheet cake (think like carrot cake bars), so it bakes a bit faster. Just feel the surface and when it bounces back and it golden brown all over, you're done!
For an extra fruity twist: if you really want to dial up the pineapple, feel free to use a pineapple jam filling between your layers and just use the cream cheese frosting to coat the outside of the cake.
A straight-up carrot cake: if you prefer to make a more simplified flavor profile that’s just focused on the classic spices and “schtuff,” feel free to add a ½ cup of applesauce in place of the 1 cup of pineapple.
A dairy-free cake: this cake is delicious in a dairy-free version as well! Swap vegetable oil in place of the melted butter and a non-dairy milk or water in place of the buttermilk, and you’ll be good to go!
⭐ Did you try this tasty recipe? ⭐Please give it a ⭐ rating in the recipe card or leave a comment at the bottom of the page to help others find this sweet recipe. I’d love it if you'd share your treats (literally and electronically!), and tag @mint.and.mallow.kitchen on Instagram or Facebook so I can see your beautiful bakes! Xo, Jocelyn