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Hannah Swensen’s Special Carrot Cake Recipe

Hannah Swensen grating carrots

When Hannah Swensen  isn’t busy solving murders, she is back at The Cookie Jar whipping up some delicious carrot cake. 

In the latest episode of Hannah Swensen Mysteries: Carrot Cake Murder, deals with the discovery of a skeleton amid the rubble of a building undergoing renovation reveals that one of Lake Eden’s beloved citizens is not who he claimed to be. Much to the dismay of Hannah’s fiancé, Detective Mike Kingston, Hannah  begins to investigate the case on her own.

As she tries to piece together the events that led to the murder and learn the victim’s true identity, Hannah even calls on her mother, Delores, as she works to bring the killer to justice and uncover the truth.

But first, lets have some cake!

A square of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting



  • 2 cups white (granulated) sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil (not canola, or olive, or anything but vegtable oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sour cream (or unflavored yogurt)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon (or ½ teaspoon cardamom and the rest cinnamon)
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, juice and all (that’s about 1½ cups of crushed pineapple and a scant cup of juice)
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts (or pecans)
  • 2½ cups flour (don’t sift—pack it down when you measure)
  • 2 cups grated carrots 

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • ½ cup softened butter
  • 8-ounce package softened cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar (no need to sift unless it’s got big lumps)


Preheat oven to 350°F, rack in the middle position.

Grease (or spray with Pam) a 9-inch by 13-inch cake pan and set it aside.

Beat the sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, and vanilla together in a large bowl.

Mix in the sour cream (or yogurt). 

Add the baking soda, cinnamon (and cardamom if you used it) and salt.

Mix them in thoroughly.

Add the can of crushed pineapple (including the liquid) and the chopped nuts to your bowl.

Mix them in thoroughly.

Add the flour by half-cup increments, mixing after each addition.

Grate the carrots. (This is very easy with a food processor, but you can also do it with a hand grater) 

Measure out 2 cups of grated carrots. Pack them down in the cup when you measure them.

Mix in the carrots BY HAND. Grated carrots tend to get caught on the beaters of electric mixers.

Spread the batter in your prepared cake pan.

Bake it at 350°F for 50 minutes, or until a cake tester (I use a food pick that’s a little longer than a toothpick) inserted one inch from the center of the cake comes out clean.


Mix the softened butter with the softened cream cheese and the vanilla until the mixture is smooth.

Let the cake cool in the cake pan on a wire rack. When it’s completely cool, frost with the cream cheese frosting while it’s still in the pan.