Lisa's Carrot Cake

Cooking in my family (as it is in many) is a bit of a legacy. My maternal grandparents both were excellent cooks, and instilled this love for good food in my mom, who has passed it down to me. I don't think I would have ever even thought to start baking or cooking if I hadn't been raised in a house with so much good food. When I was little, my mom would wake up extra early to make us cinnamon french toast and pancakes if we needed a morning pick me up; the gourmet contents of my elementary school lunchbox made me the envy of all my classmates; and dinner was always an adventure, an exercise in trying whatever she had thought up that day or come across in one of her many cookbooks. She has developed a varied and impressive repertoire of recipes over the years that her friends and family all rave about (anything she makes is guaranteed to be good). Though it's hard to say which recipe is the most popular, I'd be willing to bet that it is for this carrot cake. 

My mom (otherwise known as Lisa) developed this recipe back in the early 90s, taking what must have been a standard carrot cake recipe and upping the amount of spices, doubling the vanilla, and choosing to add both pineapple and coconut, among other things. It has served as my birthday cake on more than a couple of occasions, and is ever present on Father's Day and Easter. I can't even count how many times I found one cooling on the counter waiting to be frosted when I was growing up, a home baked congratulations/thank you/get well soon gift for my mom's friends and acquaintances. This cake has the perfect balance of cinnamon and nutmeg, is fluffy and moist thanks to the carrots and pineapple, and has an extra hint of sweetness thanks to the coconut -- it is one of the best cakes you will ever eat.

Given that I have only a tiny electric oven to work with and tend to bring my baked goods to work, I find it easier to make this cake in a rectangle pan or as cupcakes, but it looks prettiest when baked as a layer cake, as my mom has always done. Go make this right now!


2 cups of sugar
1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil

3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups of flour
2 teaspoons of baking soda
2-3 teaspoons cinnamon (depending on how cinnamon-y you want the cake)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded carrots (I used pre peeled baby carrots and chop them fine in the food processor) 

2 cups of flaked sweetened coconut
1 can crushed pineapple, drained

Cream cheese frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Combine sugar, oil eggs and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk together until smooth.  In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir well. Next, add the carrots, coconut, and pineapple to the batter and mix everything together to combine. Pour the batter into 2 well greased (9) inch rectangle pans or two 8 inch cake pans. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.  Use a knife to test for doneness. Prepare the frosting (recipe can be found here) while the cake cools. Frost the cake once it has completely cooled. Note that you will have some frosting left over. Decorate with extra coconut, if desired.

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