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Triple Layer Carrot Spice Cake

This Carrot Spice Cake has a special place in my heart and food memory.  I had just turned 7 years old when I first came to enjoy a slice.  My mother’s good friend, Hortencia, made it for me that year because my dear mother wasn’t able to make me a cake or even a birthday party at the time.  I clearly remember my friends, Cyndi & Melissa (her daughters), coming over to our house to sing Happy Birthday to me and to have some of their mother’s marvelous cake.  To this day it remains among my favorite spice cakes.  I’m so glad that they kindly allowed me to share the recipe with you and I do hope many of you make it, because it has had many generations of fans.  Should you have the opportunity to taste this cake, then I know you too will become enamored with the recipe.  

A wedge of Carrot Spice Cake

I recently had the pleasure of baking the triple layer cake for aunt Marg’s birthday lunch and, not surprisingly, it was a big hit that day.  Although my friend Cyndi tells me that her mother makes a giant sheet cake out of it, I knew from the proportions and amount of batter that a triple layer 9” cake could be made very easily.  Sure enough, the cake baked to a glorious tower of sweetness.  

Triple Layer Carrot Spice Cake

The batter itself is a typical carrot cake batter in which oil is used instead of butter.  I consider this more of a spice cake than anything since it doesn’t contain a copious amount of grated carrot like most carrot cake recipes; there aren’t any nuts in it either.  With the addition of crushed pineapple it becomes even more similar to a Hummingbird cake, minus the bananas.  In either case, the layers are spicy, sweet, and thoroughly delicious.  

Once you see how simple it is to put together, you’re going to want to bake one for that carrot cake or spice cake enthusiast.   It’s a sweet thing. 

What better icing to pair it with than some cream cheese frosting? 

Carrot Spice Cake Ingredients
  • 5 cups {670 g.} all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon {15 ml.} baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon {15 ml.} baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon {2.5 ml.} fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons {30 ml.} ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups {400 g.} granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup {125 g.} packed dark or light brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups {480 ml.} canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons {30 ml.} pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup {90 g.} grated carrots
  • 1 cup or 8 0z {227 g.} crushed pineapple, drained

Equipment: three 9x2” round cake pans, parchment rounds

Yield: 12 servings

Prepare your cake pans by either buttering and flouring them or by spraying them with a nonstick cooking spray which contains flour.  Add parchment rounds on the bottoms of the cake pans to ensure that the cakes release.

Center two oven racks.  
Preheat oven to 350° F (177°C)

Note: Since you’re using 3 cake pans, you will have to put 2 cake pans on one rack and the other cake pan just below it.  Give the cake pans plenty of room and space them evenly.

In a large bowl, sift, using a strainer, the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, fine sea salt and ground cinnamon.  Whisk to blend throughly & evenly.  Keep the dry ingredients next to your mixer.

In the bowl of your mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the granulated sugar, packed brown sugar and eggs.  On medium speed, whisk the ingredients until they are well combined, about 1-2 minutes. 

With the machine running, add the canola oil in a steady stream and beat until combined.  Add the pure vanilla extract.

Lower the speed to low and add the dry ingredients, beating just until combined.  Add the grated carrots and the crushed pineapple and beat this on low to combine.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and give the entire batter one or two large turns with a spatula.  

Evenly divide the batter among the cake pans and pop them into the preheated oven.  

Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes

Rotate the pans halfway through baking.  The single cake pan on the lower rack should trade places with one of the other cake pans on the rack above it halfway through baking.

When done, the cake tops should spring back and a toothpick inserted in the centers  should come out clean.

Remove the layers from the oven and let them cool on racks for 10 minutes.  Gently and very carefully, invert the cake pans onto the racks and remove the parchment rounds.  Invert the layers again and let them cool completely before proceeding with the icing.

Note: the cake layers can be baked a day ahead of your celebration.  Keep them well covered with plastic wrap at room temperature.

Orange Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients
  • Two 8 oz. {227 g.} packages low fat bar cream cheese (neufch√Ętel) cold
  • 1 1/2 sticks or 12 tablespoons {168 g.} unsalted butter, room temperature
  • grated zest of 1 orange or 2 teaspoons {10 ml.}
  • 4 tablespoons {60 ml.} freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon {5 ml.} pure vanilla extract
  • 1 lb. {453 g.} confectioners’ sugar

In the clean bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter  on medium speed until it is malleable, about one minute.  Stop and scrape down the bowl and paddle.  Add the cold cream cheese and mix until combined and creamy on medium speed; beat for about 2-3 minutes.  Add the orange zest and orange juice and beat until smooth.  Stop and scrape down the bowl at least once.  On low speed, add the vanilla extract and confectioners' sugar, then increase the speed to medium.  Beat until creamy.  

The frosting is a soft icing which was meant for this specific cake.  If you wish to make a stiffer icing, add more confectioners' sugar until you get the consistency you want.  You can use it as soon as you've mixed it or you can refrigerate it for up to 2 days, well covered.

 This frosting is addictive, so make sure you use all of it when making this cake. 

Decorating the Cake
Find a nice cake stand or cake plate and center one of the cake layers.  

Apply one third of the cream cheese frosting with an offset spatula, spreading it to about 1/2" from the edge.
Place a second layer on top and center it.  Carefully sandwich it.  Repeat with another third of the frosting.

The final layer should be the prettiest of the bunch.  Apply the remaining frosting and spread it with the offset spatula.

The spicy layers are such a good combination with this icing.  Doesn't this look positively delicious?

Perfect for any celebration!

I love how simple and homey this cake is.  With the irresistible cream cheese frosting sandwiched between the layers and on top of the cake, one gets to enjoy every bite of it without having a thick, cloying frosting covering the entire layers.  The recipe doesn’t call for nuts whatsoever, but you can add a good cup of your favorite type if you feel like having some crunch.  Serve each wedge of cake with a fragrant hot tea or some strong coffee (it’s also good with a glass of milk) and enjoy every mouthful.  Bake this famous Triple Layer Carrot Spice Cake for a birthday party, an Easter lunch, a shower or even a family reunion.  If your crowd is big, bake two cakes.  Everyone is going to love it!
Thank You Cyndi & thank your dear mother for the recipe!


  1. AAAWWEEEE, thank you for mentioning my mom, i will mention it to her... Amazing memories of our childhood.. Our moms were (are) awesome bakers and decorators.. I think i will bake one this weekend for my sister and I.. ;)

  2. Yes Missy, our mothers are great bakers! I had to pick it up from somewhere right? Have fun baking it and enjoy!

  3. Hi David,

    I was wondering: I do not have an electric mixer. Would I still be able to make this recipe? If it helps, I do have a food processor.

  4. Hi Waqar,
    You can certainly make this cake without a stand mixer. Most food processors aren't large enough to handle this much batter and the speed of the machine might activate too much gluten in the flour; this is fine for breads, but not for cakes.

    Here's what I would do using the food processor:

    Process the eggs, sugars, extract and oil until it's smooth. Transfer the mixture to a larger bowl and add the dry ingredients, carrots & pineapple, stirring with a large spatula or spoon until the batter is thoroughly combined. Bake as instructed. This will make a tender cake.

    Happy Baking!

  5. I keep thinking about this cake David. As soon as I have a kitchen again I shall have to make it.

    Hope you are well.


  6. Pru!!

    How are you doing? Are you really in South Africa? Please send me a private email and tell me how you're doing & what you're up to. I just received an email from someone in SA who wanted to know about a good kitchenwares store. Do you have any suggestions? Drop me a line!



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