I’ve been baking this cake for many years, and have experimented with making it into cupcakes, as a layer cake, and serving it dusted with confectioner’s sugar instead of frosting it. Twitter follower @msserephina sent me a photo of this cake made as a loaf cake and glazed in chocolate – a lovely variation.
Makes one 13-by-9 inch sheet cake.
For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup buttermilk
1-1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 ounces crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
For the frosting:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons orange juice
1-1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar.
1. Prepare cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil or spray a 13 by 9 inch cake pan, and set aside. Into a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until well blended. Add the applesauce, buttermilk, light brown sugar and vanilla; mix well. Add the flour mixture, pineapple, carrots, coconut and walnuts. Mix well and pour into baking pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in to the center of the cake comes out dry, 50 minutes to one hour. Cool completely.
3. Prepare frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese and butter. Beat until thoroughly blended and smooth. Add orange juice, orange zest and vanilla, and beat again until mixed. Add confectioners’ sugar and beat until very smooth and fluffy.
4. Use an icing spatula to cover cake evenly with frosting. Place the cake in an airtight cake container and refrigerate. If a container is not available, the cake may be refrigerated uncovered until the icing sets, about 2 hours. Cover lightly with plastic wrap, tucking the edges under the plate to make an airtight seal. Refrigerate.
5. Remove from refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature long enough to take the chill off the cake, about 45 minutes. Slice and serve.