Naked Carrot Cake

Makes one 9-inch triple-layer cake


For the Cake:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1½ cups vegetable oil
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • 4 cups grated carrot (about 1½ pounds carrots)
  • 1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained (about 1½ cups)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

For the Frosting:

  • 4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

  • 4 cups powdered sugar

  • 2 tablespoons orange extract
  • Grated zest of 2 oranges, plus more for garnish
  • 1 medium carrot, spiralized, for garnish

For the Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line three 9-inch round baking pans with parchment paper cut to fit and spray the sides with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and ginger.

In a large bowl using a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the brown sugar and oil on low speed until fully combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla. Scrape down the sides to ensure that everything is incorporated. Gently stir in the flour mixture by hand until just combined. Fold in the carrots, pineapple, and pecans. Do not overmix.

Evenly distribute the batter among the prepared pans and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the cakes are fully set and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool completely in the pans, about 1 hour.

For the Frosting:

In a large bowl using a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, orange extract, and orange zest until smooth and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

To Assemble:

Remove the cake layers from the pans when completely cool. Place 1 layer on a cake plate and, using an offset spatula, spread
a quarter of the frosting over top of the layer, taking care to spread it all the way to the edges. It’s okay if some of the frosting goes onto the sides (I like it better when it’s not perfect). Stack the second layer on top of the first, add another quarter of the frosting, and repeat with the remaining layers. Use the remaining frosting to lightly coat the sides of the cake so you can still can see the cake through the frosting.

Scatter the orange zest over the top and garnish with spiralized carrot.