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Moist Carrot Cake Recipe overhead shot of the cake with two slices cut.

Carrot Cake with Pineapple and Vanilla Mascarpone Icing

This one layer and one bowl simple carrot cake with pineapple recipe is moist, light and perfectly suited for snacking. A flavorful vanilla and citrus spiked lightly sweetened mascarpone icing crowns this carrot cake for a delicious and creamy finish! This recipe is vegetarian with a dairy free option. 
You'll need one, 9" x 2" (22 x 5 cm) cake pan for this recipe. My baking books tell me an 8" x 8" (20 x 20 cm) square pan is equivalent to a 9" round pan. If using a square pan, starting to test for doneness at 30 minutes.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Carrot Cake with Pineapple, Simple Carrot Cake Recipe
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 12 Servings
Author Traci York | Vanilla And Bean


For the Cake:

  • 1 C (127g) Shelled, Whole Pecans or Walnuts divided
  • 1 1/4 C (175g) Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tbs Corn Starch
  • 1/2 tsp Fine Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/3 C (65g) Dark Brown Sugar packed
  • 1/3 C (75g) Granulated Cane Sugar
  • 3/4 C (150g) Canola Oil or melted Coconut Oil, warm to the touch
  • 2 Large Eggs room temperature*
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 C (130g) Drained Crushed Pineapple press through a stainer to drain throughly
  • 1 1/4 C (160g) Packed Finely Shredded Carrots from about 2 large carrots

For the Icing:

  • 16 oz (450g) Mascarpone Cheese 2, 8 oz tubs
  • 1/4 C + 2 Tbs (45g) Powdered Sugar
  • Vanilla Beans Scraped from One Vanilla Bean Pod
  • Orange Zest from one large orange, two if you have it.


For the Cake:

  • Grease a 9" x 2" (22 x 5 cm) round cake pan thoroughly on the sides and bottom. Line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the top of the parchment paper. Be sure to get the corners good!
    Arrange an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
  • Place the nuts on a small sheet pan and put them in the oven while the oven is preheating. Toast the nuts for about 10-15 minutes, or until the nuts are fragrant and starting to turn slightly darker. Chop fine when cool. Scoop out 1/4 C (25g) for sprinkling on the top of the finished cake. Set aside.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, add the flour, corn starch, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the brown sugar and cane sugar, and whisk in the oil until ingredients are combined, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs and vanilla. Whisk until the ingredients are emulsified, about 20 seconds. Add the pineapple to the egg mixture and whisk until the pineapple is evenly distributed.
    Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Using a silicone spatula, gently mix until no flour streaks remain. If using coconut oil, the batter will start to stiffen at this point because the coconut oil is cooling (solidifying). Working quickly, fold in the shredded carrots and nuts. If using canola oil, the batter should be thick but loose and almost pourable. For coconut oil, the batter should be stiff and thick.
  • Transfer the cake batter to the cake pan and using an offset spatula, and smooth the batter into an even layer. If using coconut oil, spread the batter while pressing it into the pan. Tap the pan on the counter to disperse any air pockets.
  • Bake the cake for 30-40 minutes. The cake is ready when it's golden, a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean, the cake slightly springs back under gentle pressure at center, and the edges of the cake are just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan.
    Allow cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes on a cooling wrack. Turn cake out on to a plate or cutting board to release. Give it a gentle tap if needed. If it doesn't budge, ease the edges with a pairing knife by running the knife around the sides of the cake. Then flip back over on to cooling rack, so that the top is showing. Cool completely before icing (about 2 hours).

For the Icing:

  • While the cake is cooling, in a medium mixing bowl, add the mascarpone. Sift the powdered sugar into the bowl and add the vanilla beans and zest. Stir with a silicone spatula just to combine, do not whip. It should be soft and spreadable.
    Put a lid on the icing and store it in the fridge for at least 1 1/2 hours (up to two days), until you're ready to ice the cake. It will firm up a bit as it chills.

Ice the Cake:

  • Because mascarpone needs to be refrigerated, consider how/when you'll share the cake before icing. An iced cake needs to be refrigerated within three hours. An uniced cake can set covered at room temperature for up to three days.
    Ice the Whole Cake: Once the cake is cool and just before serving, take the icing from the fridge and spread it over the cake. Finish the cake with a sprinkle of the remaining finely chopped pecans or walnuts if desired. Share within three hours.
    Individual Pieces: Once the cake is cool, slice the cake and share with a dollop or slather of chilled mascarpone.
    **See recipe notes for tips on cutting clean cake edges.

For Storage:

  • Room Temperature: Store an iced cake at room temperature (70F or less) for up to three hours. Afterwards, store the cake in the fridge, covered for up to three days. Before serving, pull the cake from the fridge and rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes to allow the fats to soften. I have stored the cake at room temperature for over 24 hours and it was fine for us, but food safety says cheese should set out for no more than three hours.
    An uniced cake can be stored covered at room temperature for up to three days.
    To Freeze: This cake freezes beautifully, iced or uniced. Simply allow the cake to cool completely, ice the cake or not, then freeze individual pieces on a sheet pan. Once frozen wrap snugly in plastic wrap or or store in a lidded container. Store in freezer then thaw at room temperature for about two hours before enjoying. If iced, take the plastic wrap off before thawing so the icing doesn't stick. 
    I've only tested freezing the iced cake for up to two days. Uniced will freeze well for up to two weeks. Unwrap and thaw at room temperature, covered with a cake dome.


*Room Temperature Eggs: give em' a few hours on the counter or place them in a bowl of warm water for 10-15 minutes. 
**Clean Cut Edges: Fill a large mason jar with hot water. Just before cutting the iced cake, place the knife in the water and let it set 10 seconds to warm up. Wipe the knife dry and cut the cake. Pull the knife out of the cake towards you without lifting. Admire that beautiful edge and repeat!