1 pound carrots, peeled and thinly sliced (about 4 medium carrots)
3 large eggs
3 cups walnuts (divided), for the cake 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour, for the cake, plus more for flouring the pans
1 cup packed sweetened shredded coconut
2 teaspoons baking soda, for the cake 1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained (about 1 cup pineapple)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, for the cake 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, for the cake 1 pound (two 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon kosher salt, for the cake 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup vegetable oil, for the cake 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Fill a saucepan with a couple inches of water. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Place the sliced carrots in a steamer basket and set over the saucepan. Cover and steam the carrots until very tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.
(You can also bring a pot of water to a boil, add the carrots, cover, and cook until tender.) Place the carrots in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and purée until smooth.
You should have 11⁄3 cups puréed carrots. Alternatively, you can purée with an immersion blender or with a food mill. (Don’t use a blender or you’ll need to add liquid.)
Heat the oven to 350°F and place a rack in the centre. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Chop the walnuts and set aside.
Meanwhile, grease the bottom and sides of a 13x9x2-inch baking dish or two 9-inch cake pans with butter, oil, or nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom(s) with parchment paper and grease the paper (Love Note 2, page 351, Devil’s Food Cake).
Sprinkle in a little flour and turn the pans to evenly coat the greased areas. Turn the pans over and tap them against the bottom of the sink to remove the excess (Love Note 1).
Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt into a medium bowl.
Place the oil and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat at medium speed until combined. Add the eggs one at a time and beat at medium speed until well incorporated before adding the next.
Add the vanilla and carrots and beat for one minute more. Reduce the speed to low and add the sifted dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. Stir in the coconut, 1 cup of the walnuts, and the drained pineapple.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake in the centre of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes.
Or, bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean (crumbs can cling to it, but no streaks of batter) and the cake is pulling away from the sides of the pan(s).
Remove the pan(s) from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. After 15 minutes, place a cooling rack(s) over the pan(s) and invert (so the cake falls out of the pan and onto the rack).
Peel off the parchment and continue to cool the cake for at least one hour before frosting.
To make the frosting: In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed for one minute. Gradually whisk in the sugar, one cup at a time.
Gradually whisk in the sugar, one cup at a time. Stop the machine and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
Add the vanilla and whisk at medium-high speed until very smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stop the machine and scrape down the bowl again, and then mix for one minute more. Set aside.
To frost a 13x9x2-inch cake: Place a serving platter on top of the cake and invert it again so the cake is sitting on it (Love Note 2).
Tuck a few strips of parchment paper under the bottom edges of the cake (this keeps the serving plate clean as you frost). Use an offset spatula to scrape one-third of the frosting onto the top of the cooled cake.
Spread the frosting over the top and sides (this is a thin coating called a “crumb coat,” which fixes all the loose crumbs in place). Wipe your spatula clean and scrape the remaining frosting onto the top of the cake.
Spread evenly over the top and sides.
OR: To frost a two-layer cake: Place a serving plate on top of one cake and invert it again so the cake is sitting on it (Love Note 2). Tuck a few strips of parchment paper under the bottom edges of the cake (this keeps the plate clean as you frost).
Use an offset spatula to scrape one-third of the frosting onto the top of the cake; spread it evenly over the top. Carefully set the other cake on top, with the flat side facing up, and scrape one-third of the frosting onto the top of it.
Spread this frosting over the top and sides of the cake (this thin layer of frosting is a crumb coat, which will adhere the crumbs to the cake so they don’t end up on the surface of the final layer of frosting).
Clean off your spatula and scrape the remaining frosting onto the top of the cake. Spread evenly over the top and sides.
Press the remaining chopped toasted walnuts around the sides and over the top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.