This is truly the best carrot cake recipe - it's made completely from scratch, is supremely moist, and packed full of carrots, pineapple, coconut, pecans and raisins. Filled and frosted with a simple cream cheese frosting, this cake is an absolute winner on every level.
Make the Carrot Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 9-inch cake pans, line the bottoms with a round of parchment, grease the parchment, then flour the pans and tap out the excess. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugars, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined and there are no lumps of brown sugar. Add the flour mixture and, with a rubber spatula, gently stir until mostly combined. Add the carrots, pineapple, pecans, raisins and coconut and fold together until thoroughly combined.
Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with clean, 22 to 28 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
Make the Cream Cheese Frosting: Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt on low speed until smooth, then mix for an additional 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed.
Increase the speed to medium-low and add the cream cheese one piece at a time and mix until smooth, then mix for an additional 2 minutes.
Assemble the Carrot Cake: Place one cake layer on a serving platter and spread with 1 cup of the cream cheese frosting. Top with a second cake layer and again spread with 1 cup of the cream cheese frosting. Place the final cake layer on top, top-side-down (so the bottom of the cake is actually facing up), then frost the top and sides with the remaining cream cheese frosting and garnish the sides with chopped pecans, if desired. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve. The cake can be made up to 1 day in advance and leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator, in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Vegetable Oil: Do not use butter in place of vegetable oil, but you can use canola oil or another neutral-flavored oil.
Add-in Substitutions: You can omit the coconut, pecans and/or the raisins in the cake without making any other adjustments to the batter, but the cake may bake more quickly so start checking for doneness sooner.
8-inch round pans: Prepare as directed but bake for 27 to 35 minutes.
9x13-inch pan: Bake in a greased 9x13-inch pan until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes.
Bundt pan: Generously grease a 10 to 12-cup Bundt pan and bake for 60 to 75 minutes.
Storage: Leftover cake should be stored in an airtight container (or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap) in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Make-Ahead: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and wrapped in plastic wrap up to 2 days before frosting and assembling. The entire cake can be assembled and refrigerated for up to 1 day before serving.
Freezing Instructions: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, wrapped in plastic wrap, and placed into a freezer zip-top resealable bag, and frozen for up to 3 months before thawing in the refrigerator overnight and proceeding with the recipe. The entire cake can be wrapped in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, and frozen for up to 1 month; thaw in the refrigerator overnight.