Scrumptious Spring Sweepstakes Entry

This wonderful spring recipe comes to us from Susan who took a year long effort to make this cake perfect for her husband.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons of Rodelle Gourmet Vanilla extract
2 cups FINELY grated carrot (I use the smallest grater I have)
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained (see tips below)
1 Cup of flaked coconut
1 Cup toasted chopped pecans

Buttermilk Glaze
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup REAL Butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Rodelle Gourmet Vanilla

Cream Cheese Frosting
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) of REAL Butter
2 (8 oz) packages of softened cream cheese
6 cups of powdered sugar
3 Rodelle Gourmet vanilla extract
2 cups of toasted pecan pieces (optional)

Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees
Line 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with wax or parchment paper; lightly grease and flour wax paper.
Set pans aside.
Take all of the required cups of pecans (include the amount for the frosting if you are using them), spread them evenly over a cookie sheet and toast them in the oven while working on the cake (be careful not to burn them) about 5 minutes
Stir together first 4 ingredients – (I always use a paper plate, it makes it easier to put the ingredients in the stand mixer when I’m ready for it, just fold the plate and pour)
Beat eggs and next 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
Add flour mixture, beating at low speed until blended.
Fold in carrot and next 3 ingredients. Pour batter evenly into prepared cake pans.
Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Time for the Buttermilk Glaze; Combine all ingredients except vanilla in saucepan; bring to boil. Boil 5-6 minutes, until thick and syrupy; add vanilla. Pour glaze over top while cake is still warm and in pans, allow cakes to cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then remove cakes from pan to cool on racks until you are ready to frost.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
Combine all ingredients, except nuts in stand mixer until creamy – for best results do this while cakes re baking and refrigerate the frosting while the cakes cool.
Spread frosting between each layer as you assemble the cake, building up the edges where there will be a gap on the side as you go along; frost the sides of the cake and the top.
Take the chopped pecans in your hand and press them along the sides of the cake and viola you are done!

Carrot cake always tastes better and it will cut cleaner once it has been refrigerated for a couple of hours.
Place the shredded carrots and crushed pineapple in a cheesecloth or very clean kitchen towel and squeeze out excess moisture to your desired amount.
Dip the spatula used for frosting the cake in cold water to get a nice clean appearance to the top of the frosting.
Add a little caramel sauce and a sprinkling of cinnamon to the plates before you serve