Spiced Pineapple & Carrot Cake

Spiced Pineapple & Carrot Cake
makes one 2-layer 8" round cake
For the Cake:
6 cups grated carrots (about 7-8 large carrots)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup raisins
3 tablespoons dark rum
1 tablespoon Cointreau (or Grand Marnier)
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup crushed or chopped canned pineapple ***reserve juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups (16 ounces) powdered sugar, sifted
zest of 1 lemon
In a medium bowl, combine grated carrots and brown sugar. Set aside for 1 hour, stirring halfway through.   After an hour, you will notice there is quite a bit of moisture in the bottom of your bowl. Be sure to drain this out. No need to strain, just push your spoon against the carrots and let the fluid flow into the sink. A little bit left over in the bowl is okay. 
Strain the canned pineapple, reserving the juice. If the pineapple is quite chunky, give it a quick chop so you're left with bite-sized pieces.  Pour the strained juice into a measuring cup.  Add water to the measuring cup until it's equal to 1 cup. Add the rum and Cointreau, stir to combine.  Add the liquid and raisins to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, strain juice (discard) and set raisins aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two 8-inch round baking pans.   Line bottom of pans with parchment circles and grease.  Dust with flour and knock out excess, set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs until light.  Gradually beat in the white sugar.  Beat in the oil, applesauce, and vanilla.  Stir in the pineapple.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.  Add the lemon zest and whisk to combine.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet in 3 additions, just until absorbed.  Add the carrots, raisins, and toasted walnuts to the batter, mix to combine. 
Pour evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and return to wire rack to cool completely.
To prepare the cream cheese frosting, beat cream cheese and butter until incorporated, about 1 minute.  Add the vanilla and lemon zest. Beat to combine.  Add powdered sugar to the creamed mixture 1 cup at a time.  Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl before each addition. 
To assemble the cake, place a disposable cake board on top of your serving platter (the cake boards help to transfer the cake from serving platter to cake server) and top with the first layer of cake.  Frost the first layer with about 1 1/4 cups frosting using an offset spatula. 
Top with second cake layer and apply an even crumb coat to the entire cake. A crumb coat is a thin layer of frosting that seals in all the tiny crumbs so the final layer of frosting is smooth and cake-free.
Place the cake in the fridge for the crumb layer to firm up, about 30 minutes.  Finish the cake with the remaining frosting and decorate with sprinkles or chopped nuts.
cake recipe adapted from allrecipes.com
frosting recipe courtesy of Philadelphia