Six beautiful layers of pumpkin carrot cake packed with shredded coconut, chopped walnuts, and raisins. And for the perfect finishing touch: a delicious cinnamon cream cheese frosting.
Well, it seems like we all got a little overly excited about fall a few weeks ago, didn’t we? Somehow, the first official day of autumn brought us back to summertime temps. But thankfully, it’s finally starting to cool back down, so I’m hoping that means we can all get back to our fall baking this weekend. Are you with me? I hope so, because I’ve been so antsy to share this pumpkin carrot cake recipe, and I just couldn’t wait another week!
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At the end of August, when the weather was just starting to turn cool the first time around, I spent the weekend with my extended family at my grandparents’ home in Wisconsin. In addition to my grandma and grandpa, I have an aunt and uncle, and cousins who live close by. My oldest cousin has three little ones, and her firstborn has become really interested in baking of late.
Going to Grandma’s house, I had actually been planning to take a weekend off from baking, since you can always bank on Grandma having something sweet around. But then my cousin asked if I would make a cake, and could her daughter be my little sous-chef? I thought it was the best idea and with that, I was packing my bags with plenty of baking supplies for the weekend!
A love for the classic carrot cake and cream cheese frosting combination is basically an inherited trait in my family. So, since I was starting to test fall recipes at the time, I decided we should make this pumpkin carrot cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. I first experimented with this recipe about a year ago, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. This time around, I had it in mind to create a semi-naked cake with lots of height appeal! I absolutely adore tall cakes.
Baking at my grandmother’s house felt like coming full-circle for me. We’ve long called my grandmother “Martha” because you can almost always find her baking, crafting, or designing seasonal decorations for her home. I love seeing how two, and now three, generations later, there are still incredibly passionate bakers in the family!
Since we were making pumpkin carrot cake, it also reminded me of one of my favorite baking stories about my grandmother. She once made a carrot cake – and forgot to add the carrots!! But because she’s Grandma, she can get away with making a carrot-less carrot cake that still tasted absolutely amazing. I promise that this recipe does include carrots though. 😉
Now, I don’t know about you, but the labor of grating carrots is always a big drawback for me when it comes to carrot cake. But get ready, because I have a wonderful solution for you! When I was getting married, I was looking for a grater to put on our registry, and I discovered a wonderful little gadget called a salad shooter. It’s an electric slicer/shredder that can quickly cut up all sorts of ingredients, like vegetables, fruits, and cheeses! And it has totally exceeded my expectations. With the touch of a button, your carrots will be grated perfectly in just a couple minutes – and that means more carrot cake!
I was especially glad to have this handy gadget when testing this recipe multiple times (that’s a lot of carrots to grate!). The first time, the cake admittedly looked like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was absolutely delicious, but the cinnamon cream cheese frosting was way too soft and it could barely hold up the layers. I like my carrot cake full of goodies like crushed pineapple, coconut, raisins, and walnuts – so I will warn you, this cake weighs a lot!
Fortunately, my family didn’t mind a lopsided cake, but I was determined to get the thickness to the frosting just right. So with a little more experimentation, I came up with the final recipe (below), and it worked beautifully. Just be sure to chill the frosting for 15-20 minutes before frosting your cake to let it firm up a little bit more. Stir it up again, and then stack away! If you are entertaining guests this fall, you should absolutely make this pumpkin carrot cake. I guarantee that this six-layer stunner will impress!
By the way, want to make this recipe into cupcakes instead of a layer cake?? Check out my recipe for pumpkin carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting!
Pumpkin Carrot Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Pumpkin Carrot Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup canned pure pumpkin
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
- 1 1/2 cups grated carrots
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 pinch salt
Pumpkin Carrot Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line the bottoms of three six-inch* round cake pans with parchment paper. Then, grease and flour the sides.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
In another medium bowl, whisk together both sugars, oil, pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla.
Add milk and whisk until combined.
Fold pineapple and carrots into the wet ingredients using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, folding together until incorporated.
Fold in the raisins, coconut, and walnuts.
Divide batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans. Bake at 350 F for 38-42 minutes**, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
Remove cakes from oven and let cool in pans for about 15 minutes. Then, turn cakes out onto a wire cooling rack and let cool completely.***
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting.
Using a hand beater, or the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, beat butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy.
Add powdered sugar gradually, about 1/2 cup at a time, beating on low speed until incorporated after each addition.
Add in vanilla, cinnamon, and salt, then beat until smooth.
Chill frosting for 15-20 minutes to help it firm up slightly.
Assembling the Cake
Once cakes are completely cool, slice each layer in half horizontally using a sharp serrated knife. You will have six layers.
Spread a small amount of frosting on a cake board and place the first layer on top.
Top with a layer of frosting and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Top with second layer of cake and repeat with remaining four layers.
Chill cake for about 20 minutes, then frost top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of frosting, reserving enough for decorative piping if desired.
Use a large, open star piping tip to pipe rosettes on top of the cake and chill cake until ready to serve.
*You can also use 3 eight-inch round cake pans for this recipe, see baking time below.
**For 3 eight-inch layers, bake for 32-35 minutes.
***Once cakes are cooled, I recommend wrapping in saran wrap and chilling for a few hours for easier slicing and stacking.