Carrot Cake for a Crowd

Making dessert for a crowd can be difficult. Something like a pie is almost big enough, but you'll have to carefully dissect it into tiny slivers to really make it work. A layer cake looks spectacular, but presents the same slicing problem. The way to go is with a rectangular dessert, like a cobbler or a sheet cake. When I think of sheet cakes, I think of the typical yellow cake/chocolate frosting combination, which, while satisfying, isn't particularly sophisticated. But this sheet cake is a different animal -- a moist, well-spiced carrot cake topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting.

The crushed pineapple in the cake batter creates a perfect texture, while the optional step of soaking the raisins in some whiskey before stirring them into the batter adds a little zing to the flavor. A hearty helping of cinnamon and vanilla round out the flavors to create something that is flavorful and indulgent, but not at all heavy. Bring it to a summer barbecue or a fall potluck -- the crowd will definitely be pleased!

Spices used in this recipe

Cinnamon, Ground
Vanilla Extract
Salt, Kosher



  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. Vanns Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. Vanns Vanilla Extract
  • 3 cups peeled and grated carrots, about 4 large
  • ½ cup canned crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup raisins
  • ¼ cup whiskey, optional


  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. Vanns Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ tsp. Vanns Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13” baking pan with butter or cooking spray. Line with parchment paper if you’re at all concerned about the cake sticking.
  2. If you’d like to add a little extra zing to the cake, place the raisins in a small heatproof bowl, and heat the whiskey in a small saucepan until hot but not boiling. Pour the whiskey over the raisins and allow to plump for 15 minutes. Drain the raisins and set aside. Or, you can just add the dry raisins to the cake!
  3. Stir together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and sugars in a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, if you have one.
  4. Using the stand mixer, a handheld mixer, or just elbow grease, beat the softened butter into the flour mixture until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla until well combined. Finally, add the carrots, crushed pineapple, and raisins, stirring until evenly distributed throughout the batter.
  5. Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan -- it’s a bit thick, so it will take some smoothing to even it all out. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for 15-20 minutes in the pan before carefully turning out onto a platter or cutting board.
  6. While the cake cools, make the frosting. Put the cream cheese, butter, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth.
  7. If you’re taking this cake to a party or other location, I recommend you store the icing in a separate container in the fridge and ice the cake once you arrive. It’s easy! Just spread the icing evenly over the top of the cake, slice, and serve.

Serves 15-20. Adapted from Serious Eats.

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