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Dad's Favorite Carrot Cake

If there's one thing my husband never imagined making his "favorite things" list, it was carrot cake. It just seemed less than appetizing, I suppose, but several years ago (after making the first one from scratch for my dad's birthday dinner), he deemed it the best cake he'd ever put in his mouth. It's been a household staple ever since.

The story goes like this...

I was never a good cook (nor baker). I spent my time on the road, eating out nearly every meal, and that's how I liked it. Not to mention I didn't even know how to cook since my mom and I ate most meals out growing up. She decided cooking for two wasn't that great, and between school and sports, it was just easier to grab something on the fly!

Fast forward to newlywed life, and competing with a mother-in-law who cooked southern style every night of her life. Not that there was any competition, but I felt like I had to step it up, you know? How could I get a new husband and not be able to cook a single thing?! I tried HARD those first few months to make something decent, but in all reality, I still worked full-time and spent most days on an airplane, so I put the whole cooking thing on the back burner and decided that would be for another time and place...

which turned out to be the next year when I delivered TWINS and became a full-time-stay-at-home mom. Joke was on me!!

For the next several years (now ten and counting), I decided to master the art of cooking and baking. Somewhere between the Food Network and Pinterest, I turned things around and became pretty darn good. Taking two babies on grocery runs and packing our double stroller like a Tetris puzzle was a weekly occurrence, and it was just easier to be at home cooking than juggling them alone (Nathan was in residency during this time, so it was a lot of stress on us all!).

All that to say, perhaps no one was prouder of me (and all my home accomplishments) than my dad. He was an amazing cook and restauranteur, and he absolutely loved every single thing I ever cooked or baked. He'd brag left and right about how great I was in the kitchen, which was funny and flattering, but I genuinely enjoyed making things especially for him... the fanfare was on point! When he mentioned that carrot cake was one of his most favorite desserts back in 2015 (how did I not know before?!), I decided then and there to make the BEST. CARROT. CAKE. EVER.

So that's what I googled, of course.

If you'd like to see my live demo of making it (in memory of Dad's birthday, which would've been his 72nd), click here. Sawyer was a very active participant... you've been warned.


  • 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 vanilla extract

  • 2 cups grated carrot

  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained

  • 1 (3 1/2-ounce) can flaked coconut

  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

  • Buttermilk Glaze

  • Cream Cheese Frosting

How to Make It:

Step 1: Line 3 (9-inch) round cakepans with wax paper; lightly grease and flour wax paper. Set pans aside. Step 2: Stir together first 4 ingredients. Step 3: 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 into prepared cakepans. Step 4: Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Drizzle Buttermilk Glaze evenly over layers; cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake.

We definitely miss Grandpa Tony's deep voice and even deeper concern (always worried, that one)... but we sure feel his presence when we make his favorite things.

Here's to you, GPT!



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