1 8 oz can Crushed Pineapple – reserve 1 T. of juice
1 1/2 cups walnuts or pecans, chopped
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh orange zest
For the cream cheese frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
16 oz. cream cheese, softened (2 pkgs)
3 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 small pinch salt
Make the carrot cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray two 9 inch cake pans with non-stick cooking spray and line each with a parchment paper round. Spray another layer of cooking spray on top of the parchment paper. You can also use 20 jumbo cupcake liners in a muffin tin.
In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and all spices.
In your mixer bowl, combine peeled and grated carrots, orange peel, drained pineapple, raisins (optional), coconut flakes, and nuts and mix at low speed until combined.
Add the vegetable oil, vanilla, and eggs one at a time, mixing well, then add 1 T. of the reserved pineapple juice and mix well, scraping down the bowl often.
Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with a hand mixer or Kitchen Aid on low speed for about 1 minute or until just combined. Do not over mix.
Pour divided into prepared pans. To ensure even layers, I recommend weighing each layer.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 mins for cupcakes, 35-40 minutes for 9-inch layer cakes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Rotate pans halfway through baking.
Allow cooling completely in pan for 1-2 hrs. Remove from pan and ice with cream cheese icing (recipe below). Before removing to ice with Cream Cheese Icing. Recipe below. Place 1/4 of icing between the two layers and when placing the top cake layer on, put the flat side of the cake (the bottom when it was in the cake pan) facing up for a flat top which makes a more attractive cake and easier to ice.
Make the cream cheese frosting and assemble the cake:
Cream the butter with a mixer for 2 minutes until pale and light.
Add the cream cheese and cream for 2 minutes, until well mixed.
Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time.
Add the salt and vanilla and mix well. You can add more powdered sugar to if you want it sweeter.
Assemble the cake:
Place on cake layer on your cake stand with the flatter end up. Layer with about half the cream cheese icing, letting the frosting hang over the edge slightly.
Place your second cake layer, flatter end up. Spread with the remaining cream cheese icing