We are obsessed with this carrot cake. The recipe was originally given to us by a friend living in West Tisbury on Martha’s Vineyard, and we made our own modifications over the years. The result is an incredibly moist, lightly spiced, carroty-nutty confection. The cake is finished with an ultra-rich cream cheese frosting. Perhaps we’re a little biased, but we declare this the best carrot cake ever.

Makes one 9-inch layer cake
(8 to 10 servings)

  • 1⁄3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 cups raw walnuts

For the cake:

  • Unsalted butter, for greasing
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups honey
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 2 tablespoons plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 2 ½ cups grated carrots

  • 1 cup raisins

For the frosting:

  • One 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1 pound (about 3 1/2 cups) confectioners’ sugar 

1. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

2. Spread the shredded coconut on the prepared baking sheet. Spread the walnuts on a separate, unlined rimmed baking sheet. Put the baking sheet with the coconut in the oven and toast for 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly browned, flipping once halfway through. Remove from the oven, transfer to a plate, and let cool.

3. Place the baking sheet with the walnuts in the oven and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, until they give off a nutty aroma, flipping once halfway through. Remove from the oven, transfer to a separate plate, and let cool. Roughly chop 1 1/2 cups for the cake. Finely chop the remaining 1/2 cup and set aside to decorate the frosting.

For the cake:

4. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper cut to fit. Butter the paper, then dust the pans with flour, tapping out any excess.

5. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Set aside.

6. In a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat together the vegetable oil and honey until well combined. Beat in the eggs one at a time and add the yogurt and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet until fully incorporated. Stir in the carrots, the
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped walnuts, and the raisins.

7. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it equally. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating 
the pans front to back halfway through, until the cake is springy and a cake tester inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire cooling rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the cakes and invert them onto the wire rack. Remove the parchment and let cool completely, about 20 minutes more.

For the frosting:

8. In a medium mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, mixing until smooth. Increase the speed to high and beat the frosting until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

9. Place one cake layer, flat-side up, on a
serving plate. With a knife or icing spatula, very generously spread frosting over the top and sides. Place the second layer on top, rounded-side up, and spread frosting evenly over the top and sides. Sprinkle the top with the toasted coconut and the 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts.