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Tropical Carrot Cake - Test Bake

Benito's picture

Tropical Carrot Cake - Test Bake

I have a big birthday for my partner to plan.  So part of that is to bake one of his favourite cakes, carrot cake.  You will notice that baking cakes isn’t something I do very often, in fact I probably bake fewer than one per year.  So I thought it would be prudent to do a test bake and ensure that the recipe I’m doing tastes good and that I can turn out a decent cake.  I hope to make this a three layer cake and decorate it better, although my decorating skills aren’t that great.

I found a recipe a while bake called a tropical carrot cake in Southern Living magazine.  The addition of bananas, coconut and pineapple (which isn’t that unusual) I guess are what make it tropical.  




  • 3 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 cups sugar 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • 3 large eggs 
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple in juice, undrained about half a 540 mL can. 
  • 2 cups chopped ripe banana (might be 2-3 bananas)
  • 1 cup shredded carrot, pressed dry 
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut, plus more for garnish 
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, plus more for garnish



  • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, room temperature 
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature 
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar 453 g


According to Better Homes & Gardens, the best way to soften cream cheese is by letting it sit in a warm water bath. This is a quick process, as the cream cheese shouldn't need to sit for longer than 15 minutes. Leaving the cream cheese in its foil wrapper, simply place the block in a bowl of warm water and let the softening begin. Hot water out of the tap works best because you don't want it to be boiling, Cheese Knees notes. You can simply let the block sit until it's soft, or you can flip it every few minutes -- either way, you want the whole thing to be submerged in the water (via The Pioneer Woman).



How to Make It


Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and spices. Add eggs, oil, and vanilla extract; whisking until fully incorporated.


Step 2

Fold in crushed pineapple, banana, carrot, coconut, and pecans. Divide batter evenly among 3 well-greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.


Step 3

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely, about 1 hour.


Step 4

Prepare Cream Cheese Frosting: Combine cream cheese and butter in mixer and beat until well combined. Add salt and powdered sugar, and beat on low until incorporated, then increase speed to medium high and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.


Step 5

Assemble Cake: Cut domes off cake layers to create 3 even layers. Place 1 layer on a cake stand and evenly spread 3/4 cup cream cheese frosting across the layer. Place another layer on top of that one and repeat with another 3/4 cup frosting. Add final layer, and spread remaining frosting across the top. Decorate with shredded coconut and pecans.


I made only a single layer for this test.  I made this with 8” round pan.  In order to avoid the usual hump in the center of the cake, I made a makeshift cake strip.  Essentially wet paper towels in the center of a folded strip of aluminum foil.  This prevents the rapid baking of the outside of the cake so that the whole cake bakes evenly and there is no hump.  It works really well, you also don’t get overly crispy outside of the cake, it is just evenly baked all the way through.

The cake is quite good, but my banana wasn’t ripe enough so it didn’t really contribute enough to the tropical feel of the cake.  I may also have skimped on the pineapple in my measurements, I hate volume measurements! But this was definitely good enough to warrant a full bake.  Oh the orange decoration is candied orange zest that I made.


trailrunner's picture

I first made that over 40 yrs ago when I saw it printed in my new issue of Southern Living ! I still have the torn out recipe in a folder somewhere :) It is indeed a luscious cake. I no longer make cakes but there was a time when there was always one in the cake keeper. With 3 children and all their friends and birthdays an excuse was always available to bake a cake. Yours will be beautiful. For a rich flavor bake the bananas in their skins in the oven. Till the skin darkens and they soften. Then squeeze out and measure. They taste incredible when made this way. 

Your single layer is so pretty !  c

Benito's picture

Thank you Caroline, yes Southern Living even says this cake is a riff on a Hummingbird Cake combining aspects of it with a carrot cake.  

Your idea for the bananas intrigues me, at what temperature are you baking the bananas in the skin?  


trailrunner's picture

i use it often and they taste great. I didn’t know about the trick with foil and wet paper towel so we can trade tips 😊🙏

Benito's picture

Thank you again Caroline, I will remember for the  next bake if my bananas aren’t ripe.  That will be very handy.

Econprof's picture

That brings back memories. My mom used to cook from Southern Living and Cooking Light magazines when I was a kid. She makes a mean triple-layer cake.

I really like the idea of making a small test cake before the big event.

trailrunner's picture

I bought two 4" layer cake pans and use them to make cakes for my grandchildren. They love the little layer cakes and they are enough for several folks to get a nice taste. There are lots of recipes out there for the smaller pans.

Benito's picture

Yes especially when I so seldom bake a cake or even make frosting, I didn’t want to blow it on the day of the birthday celebration.  Also I hadn’t tried making that cake and wanted to make sure we liked it enough.  Sometimes you get ideas for improvements too.