Blue Ribbon Carrot Cake

I’m leaving you with one more dessert before the new year starts. If you have time to fit in one last unhealthy recipe before you start those new year’s resolutions, this one should be it. I’m not kidding. I think this might be the best cake I’ve ever eaten, and I don’t even like carrot cake!

One of Mike’s coworkers asked me to make a carrot cake for her husband’s birthday last week. I agreed, but since I’d never made a carrot cake before, I turned to my mom for a recipe. And she sent me the recipe for a cake so moist and tender and delicious that I may never make another carrot cake recipe ever. It’s that good. How can you go wrong with a remarkably good carrot cake topped with a buttermilk glaze and cream cheese frosting? Simple answer – you can’t.
Just a tip: when making a cake for someone else, it’s best to practice the recipe at least once to make sure everything will go as planned.

This cake was good enough that, rather than let it go to waste, I still served this mangled piece to Mike’s parents and sister, who loved it. After working out the kinks, however, I ended up with a cake that looked almost as good as it tasted. Mike rated it a 4.5, and he doesn’t usually like carrot cake either. If that still doesn’t convince you, I served the other half of the practice cake (unmangled, still in its pan) to my sunday school class, and heard at least one person say “This is the best carrot cake I’ve ever tasted.” Try it – you won’t regret it (unless you’re trying to start a diet, in which case you might).

Blue Ribbon Carrot Cake


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups grated carrots
3 1/2 ounces shredded coconut (I somehow managed to estimate this out to be about 14 Tbsp ~3/4 cup?)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Buttermilk Glaze:
1 c sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 c buttermilk
1/4 lb butter or margarine
1 Tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/4 lb butter or margarine, softened
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese
1 t vanilla extract
2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp orange juice
1 tsp orange zest


For the cake: sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl combine the eggs, oil, buttermilk, sugar and vanilla. Mix well. Add the flour mixture, drained pineapple, carrots, coconut and walnuts. Stir well. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9'' cake pans (or 1 9x13'' pan). If you are using the round cake pans, it's best to line the bottom with a circle of greased and floured parchment paper to help get the cake out of the pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes at 350, or until top of cake springs back when touched.

While cake is baking, prepare buttermilk glaze. In a small saucepan combine sugar, baking soda, buttermilk, butter and corn syrup. Bring to a boil. Cook 5 min, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

For 9'' round cake pans:
Cool 10 minutes in pan, then invert onto 2 squares of waxed paper. Invert one of the cakes onto another sheet so that it is sitting right side up. (The glaze will make the cake stick to the waxed paper. This way, when you are ready to frost the cake, you can simply invert it onto your serving platter and peel off the waxed paper.) Slowly spoon the glaze over the warm cake so that it is absorbed into the cake. If you are using a 9x13 pan, you can leave the cake in the pan as you do this. Let cake cool completely.

Make the cream cheese frosting. Cream butter or margarine and cream cheese until fluffy. Add vanilla, powdered sugar, orange juice, and zest. Mix until smooth. Frost cake and refrigerate until frosting is set. Serve chilled. May be refrigerated several days.

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  1. Looks AMAZING!!

  2. oh its on…I love carrot cake, the first one looks great the second one though you did a top notch job on the frosting!!! I shouldnt be looking at this so early in the morning.

  3. yum! I love a good carrot cake 🙂

  4. This looks really good! I make carrot cakes, but have never used a glaze. I'll definitely have to try this one! Thanks for sharing!

  5. yummm! I love carrot cate and i'm bookmarking this to make soon 🙂

  6. He must have loved this cake. The recipe looks great, and I agree on the test-runs, it's always a good idea to work all of the kinks out, especially if it is a gift. 🙂

  7. Way to press on the face of adversity! Looks delicious. And I love anything with a church buffet-sounding name, so all the better!

  8. hahaha I've felt guilty posting desserts this week when people won't have time to make them. The carrot cake sounds fantastic! I can't even remember the last time I had that.

  9. if you had asked me yesterday if i'd ever eaten what i consider to be the ultimate carrot cake, i would've said yes. i have a recipe that's THAT GOOD. however, it does not involve a buttermilk glaze. this is something i must try. darn you megan, for ruining my attempt at healthy eating before it even started. 🙂
    happy new year!

  10. This looks so good. I love carrot cake and I'm really curious about glazing a cake before frosting it! That sounds too good to be true!

  11. Grace – If any cake is worth ruining your diet for, this is it! 🙂

    Gretchen – I definitely recommend the buttermilk glaze. I think it makes the cake extremely moist (and wonderfully sweet!)

  12. Ohh yummy. I've never had carrot cake before… I'm hesitant to try it, because some people put TONSSSSS of coconut in it, and I can't stand coconut. But i'm willing to try anything once and this cake does look really good! I'm putting it on my list of things to try.

  13. this looks so good im going to make it. you have some great recipes. Thanks for stopping by my site and leaving the comment on the bread.

  14. Alexandra – If you make it yourself, you can control the amount of coconut you put in, or just leave it out! 🙂

    sheila – I hope you like it! Stop back and let me know how it turns out 🙂

  15. You've suddenly made me realize that it's been way to long since I last made carrot cake. Must start grating carrots, asap! Mmm, this looks incredible. 🙂

  16. Megan, my mom and I made this cake, and it was REALLY good.

  17. Sarah – I'm so glad you made it and liked it! Thanks for taking the time to come back and comment. Did Ellie and Cora get to have any? 🙂

  18. I will try this recipe. I used to have a recipe that was very similar but lost it. Try Julia's recipes, I have been cooking them since I was 10. They always produce great results. Let me know when you try one and what it was. Kelly

  19. Oh my goodness, Megan, Gary started eating it before I iced it. He was after it while it was still hot…and claims it is excellent. Wonder what he will say when it is iced. I can't wait to serve it to my company tomorrow.

  20. Raynell – I'm so glad you liked it, even without the icing! I hope you both liked the finished version even better! Thanks so much for leaving a comment to let me know 🙂

  21. I plan on making a turtle shaped carrot cake for my grandson’s 1st birthday. Can you tell me the purpose of the glaze, I’ve never seen that used in other carrot cake recipes.

  22. I always want some healthy recipes, some healthy foods.
    Our health is real to us. Because health is the root of all happiness.
    Your recipe must have seemed healthy to me. So I took note of it. And I will definitely try to make it at home.
    Thank you so much for sharing with us such a healthy recipe.

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