Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pans with cut-to-size wax paper or parchment and spray paper. Set aside.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices together in a large bowl. In another bowl beat together oil, brown sugar, sugar, eggs, and vanilla with a hand mixer. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with dry ingredients and beat well with mixer. Stir in shredded carrots, drained pineapple, and (optional) chopped nuts until well combined.
Divide batter into two 9-inch cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. If you are using gluten free flour, you may have to bake a few minutes longer. Cool cake in pans for 10 minutes and then invert on wire rack to cool completely.
Pineapple Whipped Cream Frosting:
In a large bowl (preferably chilled stainless steel bowl) pour heavy cream, vanilla pudding mix, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar. Beat on high until whipped cream holds shape and stiff enough to spread as frosting.
Fold in well-drained crushed pineapple (I squeezed excess juice out with my hands). Refrigerate until ready to assemble.
Place one cake layer on cake stand or serving plate. Place strips of waxed paper under cake to prevent frosting from getting on stand. (see pic in post) Spread generous amount of whipped cream frosting evenly on top using an offset spatula. Place second cake layer on top and spread pineapple whipped cream frosting all over top and sides. Decorate with additional nuts, grated carrots, or coconut. Refrigerate any leftovers.
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Tips for Making Carrot Cake with Pineapple
Be sure to use crushed pineapple in JUICE rather than syrup
DO NOT use pre-grated carrots sold in the produce section. These are too dry and will not make a moist cake.
Thoroughly drain the crushed pineapple, especially before adding to the frosting. The easiest way to do this is by using a mesh strainer. After the canned pineapple has drained for a few minutes, press down with a spoon or hands to squeeze out extra juice.
Grate carrots manually with a box grater. For quicker and easier grating use a food processor fitted with grating blade.
9X13 CAKE: Pour batter into a greased pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
CUPCAKES: Makes approximately 2 dozen cupcakes. Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
How to Make Healthy Carrot Cake with ApplesauceDecrease the amount of vegetable oil to 1/2 cup. When mixing together the eggs, oil, sugars, and vanilla, add 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce. Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction