J Alexanders carrot cake recipe — the full copycat version! Tastes just like what they serve warm to your table at J. Alexander’s restaurant: full of carrots and pineapple, soaked in a yummy buttermilk syrup, and topped with the best ever cream cheese frosting.
A couple years ago, my husband traveled into the Chicago area for work and took a client to a popular restaurant called J. Alexanders. He always likes to ask new restaurants what their specialty is… what’s one of the best things on their menu?
His waiter didn’t hesitate to answer — it was the carrot cake.
This has special significance to us, because carrot cake is one of our most favorite desserts ever.
Many years ago, there was a privately owned restaurant near where we lived in Northwest Indiana. They had an amazing carrot cake, and for long time it held our top spot as the best carrot cake ever, but this one… well, hold the phone. We have a new winner.
J Alexanders Carrot Cake Recipe
After a bit of googling, I found an old article in the Sun Sentinel newspaper with the J Alexander carrot cake recipe. I’ve made a small tweak or two here and there to replicate what my husband remembers the cake actually tasting like during his visit, and it’s a hit.
I love that this luxurious cake can be made in a simple 9×13 pan. It doesn’t need anything fancy, but it tastes fancy. And it feeds a crowd (or large family) quite well. Caution: This cake is heavy! It’s filled with all kinds of yummy goodness.
The Buttermilk Cake Syrup is What Takes the Cake
This cake is literally bathed in buttermilk; buttermilk cake syrup, that is. Think of a “poke cake” and that’s similar to what you do here. Poke large holes, then let the rich buttermilk syrup seep into the baked carrot cake.
Consider it a Special Occasion Cake
This copycat carrot cake quickly has become one of my most requested dishes over the past year or so. It was my husband’s number one request for father’s day and his birthday this year, with no other presents necessary. It’s true.
However, because of the buttermilk cake syrup and cream cheese frosting, a slice of this carrot cake might be delicious but it’s also high in calories. Because of this, our family considers it a “special occasion cake.” Who cares about calories on a special day like a birthday?
Let me know if you try it! I think it will quickly become your most requested dish, too.
J Alexanders carrot cake recipe -- the full copycat version! Tastes just like what they serve warm to your table at J. Alexander's restaurant: full of carrots and pineapple, soaked in a yummy buttermilk syrup, and topped with the best ever cream cheese frosting.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup canola oil
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple (in it's own syrup), drained
- 2 cups julienned or matchstick carrots
- 1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
- 1 cup pecan pieces
Buttermilk cake syrup ingredients
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 6 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream cheese frosting ingredients
- 6 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Grease a 9x13 baking dish and set aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Mix remaining cake batter ingredients in a separate medium bowl. Combine the wet ingredients with the flour mixture and mix well.
- Transfer batter to prepared baking dish. Bake approximately 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (It usually closer to 50 minutes in my oven, but this can vary).
- Near the end of baking, prepare the buttermilk cake syrup: Using a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine cake syrup ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
- While the cake is still hot, poke holes all over the top with the end of a butter knife. Pour the buttermilk cake syrup over the top, allowing cake to soak up the syrup.
- Refrigerate cake until completely cool (about two hours), then prepare cream cheese frosting: Using the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed, combine frosting ingredients, mixing until smooth and free of lumps.
- Frost cake with the cream cheese frosting. Refrigerate cake to let frosting set.
If using a convection oven, reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Recipe adapted from J. Alexander's restaurant and the Sun Sentinel newspaper.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 890Total Fat: 56gSaturated Fat: 24gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 28gCholesterol: 128mgSodium: 507mgCarbohydrates: 95gFiber: 4gSugar: 75gProtein: 8g
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