The recipe for this lusciously moist carrot cake originally came from Judy Shilts, a longtime cook at Kegel's Inn. In 2005, a well-meaning customer furtively entered a cake based on the recipe in a Wisconsin State Fair dessert contest. It won a blue ribbon—but never got credited to Kegel's.
FOR THE CAKE:
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1⁄2 cups canola oil
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. fine salt
- 1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple, undrained
- 1 (7-oz.) bag shredded sweetened coconut
- 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 large carrots, trimmed and finely shredded (about 2 cups)
FOR THE ICING:
- 3 cups confectioners' sugar
- 3⁄4 lb. cream cheese, softened
- 8 Tbsp. salted butter, softened
- 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
For the cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9" × 13" pan with nonstick spray; set aside. Put sugar, oil, and eggs into a large bowl and whisk until well combined. Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and stir with a wooden spoon until just mixed together into a batter. Add pineapple with juice, coconut, walnuts, vanilla, and carrots and gently fold together until combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan, smooth top with a rubber spatula, and bake until deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, 50-55 minutes. Set cake aside to let cool completely.
For the icing: Put sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy, 4-5 minutes.
To assemble: Spread the icing over the cooled cake to cover, creating swirls and whorls, if you wish. Refrigerate the cake until completely chilled, about 3 hours. Cut into 12 squares and serve chilled.