Damn That's Good Carrot Cake


The title of this post is a direct quote from a coworker who tasted this carrot cake and uttered "Damn, that's good carrot cake!". This carrot cake even received a standing ovation from my boss. (Can you consider it a standing ovation if it's just one person standing? sure, let's go with it. It helps my story.)

Yesterday morning I dropped the cake off in our break room then ran downstairs to grab a coffee. By the time I had returned to the office, my boss had grabbed a piece of cake. As I was sitting down she yelled from her office, "Lindsey, did you make this carrot cake?" After I said yes, she proceeded to stand and slow clap. I mean, I have made some good stuff before, but nothing that has received a slow clap! (She went on use about a dozen different synonyms for moist and told me this was the best thing I had ever made.)

So between the standing ovation/slow clap and the "Damn, that's good carrot cake" comment, I'd say this is, well, one damn good carrot cake! 


The ingredients in this aren't a whole lot different than any other carrot cake, except for a not-so-secret ingredients: apple sauce, maple syrup, and nutmeg. All three are super subtle. You probably won't even be able to tell that they are there, but they make a huge difference. 

The apple sauce helps make the cake super moist without adding any fat. The maple syrup adds another layer of sweetness that helps balance out all the flavors. And the nutmeg plays off the cinnamon to bring out the flavors of the pecans, coconut, and pineapple. 

While it may look like a hot mess of ingredients (this is definitely the most ingredients I have ever added to a cake), it's really simple to make!

First mix together all the dry ingredients in a small-ish bowl. Just something big enough to hold all the flour. Then, in a larger bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients. Dump the dry into the wet and whisk until you have a batter. 


Now it's time for the party to start! Add the carrots, pineapple, pecans, and coconut to the batter and fold in until everything is nicely incorporated throughout the batter. 

Just a side note: I prefer to have my nuts pretty finely ground whenever I add them to baked goods. I do not like biting into a huge chunk of pecan when I eat my cake. So I recommend tossing them into your food processor and grinding them down into something that resembles a coarse meal. It's okay if there are some bigger pieces. 


Now just add it to your pan and bake for about 35 minutes. 

I baked mine in a square pan because I wanted it to be more like a sheet cake. But you could also split this into two 8-inch round pans if you wanted to make a layer cake. 


After it has baked and cooled, you can frost this bad boy with some of my all time favorite cream cheese frosting. Cream cheese frosting it just amazing on carrot cake. Everything that was healthy about the carrot cake before, can be thrown out the window once you add the frosting. And that's why they work so well together. 

It you want to add some rosettes like I did, separate out about 1/2+ icing into two separate bowls. Color most of it (about 1/2 cup) orange, and the rest of it (about 2 tbsp) green. For the rosettes I used a #21 piping tip, but you can also use a small closed star piping tip as well. For the leaves I used a #352. 

Mark out 16 slices of cake. In the center of each piece, pipe a small rosette by making a small spiral with the #21 tip. On the side of each one, pipe two leaves. Easy peasy, right? ;) You got this!


But with or without the decoration, this cake is sure to win you over some fans. I was definitely surprised by the reaction I received for this humble little carrot cake. According to some people, it is now the best thing that I make!


Prep Time: 20 minutes   Cook Time: 35 minutes   Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 16 pieces


  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup grated carrots (about 2 large carrots)
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened* coconut
  • 1/2 cup pecans, crushed or processed
  • 1/2 cup fresh pineapple, pureed (or canned crushed pineapple in juice)
  • 1/2 batch of cream cheese frosting


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a square baking pan with parchment paper. Spray the bottom of the pay with baking spray, then stick the parchment on top.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the apple sauce, sugar, eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla until blended. Gradually spoon in flour mixture and mix until smooth.
  4. Fold the carrots, coconut, pecans, and pineapple into the batter until everything is evenly distributed.
  5. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Remove cake from the oven and let cool on the counter until it comes to room temperature. Turn the cake onto a cooling rack. Flip right side up, then spread frosting over the top.


*If using sweetened coconut, reduce sugar by 1 tbsp.

To make rosettes, color about 1/2 cup of the frosting orange, and 2-3 tbsp green. Use a Wilton #21 tip for the rosettes and a leaf top for the leaves. Divide the cake into 16 pieces, and pipe a tight spiral in the center of each piece with the orange frosting. Then pipe two leaves on either side.