Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Serves 10-12

For the Cake:
4 eggs
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups canola oil
6 tablespoons (about 1/2 cup) buttermilk 
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cup plus 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 dash ground nutmeg 
4 cups tightly packed freshly shredded carrots (not pre-shredded)
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

For the Frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
24 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 cups confectioner's sugar

Additional whole, toasted walnuts for decoration

Position a rack in the center of the oven.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Generously butter and flour 2 8-inch cake pans (we also lined them with parchment rounds, available at the grocery store pre-cut).

Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and brown sugar on medium-high speed for 3 minutes until the mixture is light and thick.  In a seperate small bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk and vanilla.  On low-speed, slowly add the oil mixture to the egg and sugar mixture.  In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking power, baking soda, salt, and spices.  Add to the mixer and mix just until folded into the egg-sugar-oil-spice blend. Add the carrots, raisins, coconut and walnut and using a rubber spatula, fold into the mixture until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for 60-75 minutes or until the top is golden brown and springs back when you press into the middle with your finger.  Allow to cool completely on a wire rack in the pan.  

To make the frosting, in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Then add the vanilla and slowly add the confectioner's sugar. Mix until smooth. 

Then, once cooled, remove the cakes from the pans and slice in half horizontally, working slowly using a serrated knife and spinning the cakes until the knife works it way all the way through.  

Place one half of one of the layers cut-side up on a cake plate and spread one layer of frosting on top, then press another layer of cake on top, cut-side up, and repeat ending with the top layer cut-side down. Spread a thin layer of frosting on the top layer and sides of the cake, the crumb coat (we love how Martha does it). Refrigerate the cake until the frosting has firmed up then continue to frost the top and sides using the rest of the frosting.  

Decorate as you wish using whole walnuts, toasted coconut, marzipan carrots or whatever you wish!