whole food ~ well made

Homemade carrot cake

Springtime Three-tiered Carrot Cake with Extra Frosting

A 3-tiered carrot cake with ample frosting is perfect for the first-time baker and for any occasion–Easter, birthdays, anniversaries–and springtime!

My daughter, Cece, will turn 12 this month. And while she will not have a birthday party with her friends {in spite of all her elaborate planning since Jan. 1}, she can still have her cake.

Cece loves to bake. She dreams in recipes. She reads me recipes aloud like poems.

In the morning, I often find her jotting down her recipes, and she tests them out regularly on us and her friends. She reads cookbooks cover to cover.

frosting carrot cake

I had to buy her a new copy of one of her favorite cookbooks–Martha Stewart’s Cookies–because she turned the pages of full-color photos so many times, the binding fell apart.

And now that she’s pretty much mastered the cookie genre, she’s all about cakes. So, what better cake to begin with than a big, three-tiered carrot cake?

A Cake for a Young Baker

This recipe is the one we made at my former restaurant every single day. It’s the one we could not take off the menu, the one with three tiers moist with carrots and coconut and layered with billowy cream cheese frosting.

Homemade carrot cake

The cake part of the recipe comes directly from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours book minus the raisins with the addition of nutmeg because it’s Cece’s favorite spice.

It’s just about the ideal tasty and moist no-frills cake recipe that bakes into three even layers.

The frosting makes the cake, so it’s important to have plenty. This cream cheese frosting recipe is a more buttery version that is just-right sweet and ample enough to cover the two layers and the top. You do not want to skimp on the frosting.

girl with carrot cake

We love the toasted coconut sprinkled on top!

The sides stay naked–and show off your perfect bake. This was Cece’s first homemade cake and she nailed it, I’d say.

It was the perfect stay-at-home, rainy day, Sunday baking project. And an ideal treat for an April birthday girl who will be spending it with her family at home.

Happy birthday to my sweet baker girl! You definitely take the cake.


and become a forager

What’s your favorite all-occasion cake? Let me know in the comments below or tag a photo #lynnesforage on Instagram or Facebook.
Homemade carrot cake

Three-tiered Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: carrot cake
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 12 people
Author: Lynne Curry

This tall, moist masterpiece of a carrot cake is adapted from Dorie Greenspan's recipe in Baking: From My Home to Yours. Three layers of cake abundant fluffy cream cheese frosting and open sides topped with toasted coconut. Perfect for the first-time baker or the occasional baker and for any occasion–Easter, birthdays, anniversaries–or just to celebrate the simple joys in life.


For the cake layers:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 6 large eggs
  • 4 1/2 cups grated carrots, about 9 carrots Use a hand grater or food processor fitted with a shredding blade
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened

For the frosting:

  • 12 ounces 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 16 ounces 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut


For the cake layers:

  1. Position the racks in the upper and lower third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Grease (or butter) three 9-inch round cake pans (2 inches deep), flour them evenly and tap out the excess.

  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and set aside. Beat the sugar and oil in a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a whisk until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time until completely incorporated. Add the flour mixture on low speed or by hand with a spatula just until the dry ingredients disappear. Add the carrots and coconut until blended.

  3. Divide the batter evenly among the baking pans. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, just until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake just begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

  4. Cool the cakes for 5 minutes. Slide a table knife around the edges with care and flip the cakes onto cooling racks. (You can wrap cooled layers in plastic wrap to store at room temperature overnight or freeze the layers for 1 month and thaw before frosting.)

For the frosting:

  1. Before mixing, be sure that the butter and cream cheese are very soft. Whisk them together in a stand mixer or vigorously by hand until very smooth. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and beat until very smooth and light in texture.

  2. Divide the frosting roughly into thirds in the bowl. Use one part for spreading evenly between each of the two cake layers and the remaining portion for the top, making swirls to the edge. Sprinkle the top with the toasted coconut.

This post contains an affiliate link for a product that I wholeheartedly endorse from my personal use in my home kitchen–for which I may receive a small commission to support this blog.

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