I’ve made homemade carrot cakes where I use a box grater to shred carrots, and I will continue to in the future; but, Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker have some amazing boxed cake mixes that make it so easy for the at home baker who doesn’t want to walk around the grocery store searching for 10 ingredients but still wants to serve a delicious tasting homemade cake.
My main recommendation, that I will forever harp on, is to make your own frosting because it takes a boxed cake mix to the next level. For this cake I made my cream cheese frosting (icing if you’re from the south). In my opinion while many store bought boxed cake mixes are great, the frosting that they sell to top the cake with tastes blah and makes the cake seem less homemade.
For this recipe I used the Duncan Hines Signature Carrot Cake Mix that includes real carrots and raisins. If you’re not a fan of raisins look for a different carrot cake mix. I love them and they’re great in this recipe, but to each their own. This cake mix is a great base for a homemade tasting cake. It’s already loaded with spices and when you add 1/2 cup of crushed pineapple (drained), 1/2 cup of shredded coconut, and 1/2 cup of chopped pecans, like I did, this cake can pass for an old family recipe.
If you’re a fan of spice cake you have to try this recipe. If you’ve never had a spice cake you still have to try this recipe. Basically if you love the flavors of a good old fashioned southern cake make this today!
Bake a Duncan Hines Signature Carrot Cake Mix according to the manufacturer’s directions. Note** I added the following to my cake mix before I baked it. 1/2 cup of crushed pineapple drained, 2 Tbsp. of the pineapple juice (you may remove 2 Tbsp. of the water needed to bake the cake since you’re adding the pineapple juice), add 1/2 cup of shredded sweetened coconut flakes, and 1/2 cup of chopped pecans.
I live at a high altitude so I had to add 3 Tbsp. of oil and reduce the amount of water. Follow the manufacturers directions for your altitude and the baking time. My cake baked perfectly at the suggested time of 27 minutes even by adding the extras.
I cooked it in two 9 inch cake pans that I sprayed with cooking oil and placed a round piece of parchment paper in the bottom of to prevent the cake sticking to the pan. Cool the cake and turn out onto the cake holder when you are ready to frost it.
For the frosting bring a stick of butter and an 8 ounce package of cream cheese up to room temperature (don’t let the butter melt it should just be softened).
Add both the butter and the cream cheese to a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl and beat together over medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 to 3 minutes). Add a tsp. of vanilla extract and one cup of powdered sugar and mix until incorporated. Add 2 – 3 more cups of powdered sugar until the frosting is the desired consistency for using in a piping bag to decorate the cake.
If the frosting becomes too thick you can add a 1-3 Tbsp. of milk to thin it, but add them one at a time so you don’t over thin the frosting. I used 3 cups of powdered sugar for this recipe.
If you would like to tint the frosting I recommend using gel tints since they won’t thin the icing out too much.
If you plan to decorate the top and bottom of the cake, select a decorative tip and fill a piping bag 3/4 of the way with frosting.
Place a small amount of frosting on the center of the cake carrier or cake stand and spread it around a little in the center to keep the cake in place.
Add one of the cake layers to the cake carrier or cake stand base flat side down. Trim the top if it is too domed so that the top cake layer sits level.
With an offset spatula, spread a thick layer of frosting all over the bottom layer and then place the top layer of cake upside down on the first cake round.
Trim the cake before placing it down if it is too domed to sit level.
Frost the top of the cake and begin bringing the frosting down onto the sides of your cake. Smooth the frosting on the top and sides of the cake and then use the frosting in the piping bag to decorate the top and bottom of the cake.
I stored my cake in the refrigerator since it has butter and cream cheese in the frosting. It also cuts much more cleanly and doesn’t fall apart if you place it in the refrigerator to cool and set up after you finish frosting it. I recommend doubling the frosting recipe if you like a thicker layer of frosting.