Alright, Alright….”Worlds Greatest” is kind of an unrealistic claim to make with a recipe but I put some extra special love into this recipe so it’s the only title that seemed appropriate.

Growing up I really didn’t spend much time with my father, he was a workaholic and not much of a family man until I got older.  My father was a retired military mechanic and opened up an auto shop and salvage yard right after I was born.  I have very few memories of one-on-one time with my dad as a small child, but as I got older I was eager to spend time with him which usually meant that he would allow me to “work” in one of his shops.  I would feel so important answering the phones or dispatching a tow truck and I loved that he never made me feel like there was anything off-limits for girls to do. He would teach me how to weld, change a flat tire and I was driving a stick shift by the time I was twelve.  When I think back to that time in my life the memories almost always include me being covered in oil and grease wearing an over-sized pair of shop coveralls.  The fondest memories however are of me and my dad walking hand in hand out to the front of the shop  when we would here the familiar sound of the chow truck beeping its obnoxious horn and its tires screeching through the loose gravel.  My dad would make sure that I got to order first and would tell me I could have absolutely what ever I wanted.  I know this doesn’t seem like much, but for a man like my father this was his way of telling me he loved me.

This picture captures my dad perfectly. This is him taking a second to rest after working through the night pulling a rolled -over semi truck out of  a steep ditch after a horrible accident,  a task that usually took over 24 hours.

For those of you that have ever had the grand experience of getting food from an industrial chow truck you are probably wondering where I am going with this post, as most chow trucks back then carried stale sandwiches, slimy burritos and cold hard boiled eggs.  After all, this was all well before the idea of great food coming from a moving vehicle was born. There was one thing that I would always order that has remained to this very day my perfect comfort food, and that is carrot cake. You may have seen these little gems occasionally at a gas station or at a truck stop… a small piece of moist carrot cake with light whipped cream cheese frosting wrapped in plastic.  My fond memories may be overriding my better culinary judgement in the case of these carrot cakes but I truly do still enjoy them!

My goal with this recipe was to capture the greatness of the simple carrot cake that has given me such great memories of time spent with my father while adding a few surprise ingredients that would make it unique.  I may not have really traveled to enough places to fairly say that this is the world best carrot cake, but I have traveled back in time thinking of my father and feel like if I could give him a slice he would say that a better piece of carrot cake could not be found.  I would love to hear what your unique comforts food are and what types of foods bring forth memories of you spending time with your dad so please leave comments!

My Favorite picture of my dad
The first of many best days of my life.

 

 
 
World's Greatest Carrot Cake Recipe
Ingredients
  1. 2 Cups flour
  2. 2 tsp baking soda
  3. 1/2 tsp salt
  4. 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  5. 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie or apple pie spice
  6. 3/4 cup milk
  7. 2 tsp lemon zest (from one large lemon)
  8. 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  9. 3 eggs
  10. 3/4 cup melted unsalted butter
  11. 1 cup sugar
  12. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  13. 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  14. 4 medium carrots ( enough to get about two cups chopped)
  15. 1 8 ounce can crushed pineapple with juice
  16. 1 cup shredded coconut
Optional Ingredients
  1. 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  2. 1 cup raisins
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray three 8-9 inch round baking pans with cooking spray. ( When making layered cakes I like to use the disposable aluminum baking pans that come in a set of three at the grocery store, you can get several uses out of them and they are so thin it bakes the cake faster and because they are flexible the cake is always easy to remove)
  2. In a medium sized bowl mix together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice and set aside. In a small bowl mix together lemon juice, 1 tsp of lemon zest and milk. In a large bowl mix melted butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla extract, stir in the milk mixture and then the flour mixture and set aside.
  3. In a food processor or heavy duty blender such as a vitamix chop carrots until a bit smaller than a shredded carrot, add the coconut flakes and chop a few more times. Fold the carrots and coconut mixture into the cake batter. Also fold in raisins and chopped nuts if you are using them, (I really prefer carrot cake without chunks, but that's just me!) Divide the batter evenly into the the 3 baking pans. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Check at 20 minutes and then in 5 minute increments until a toothpick inserted in the middle come out with a slightly sticky crumb or almost clean, it is very important not to overcook carrot cake as it dries out easily. If baking in a 9x13 baking dish it will take more like 50-60 minutes.
  4. Let cool completely and then frost with Fluffy Lemon Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting. If layering the cake use 1/2 to 3/4 cup frosting in between layers and the remaining on the top and sides.
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Fluffy Lemon Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
Ingredients
  1. 2 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
  2. 12 ounces cream cheese, softened (1 1/2 packages)
  3. 1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
  4. 1 1/2 cups sugar
  5. 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  6. 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  7. 1 tsp lemon zest
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Instructions
  1. In a medium sized bowl beat the heavy cream until peaks start to form and set aside. In a large bowl mix remaining ingredients until smooth. Gently fold in the whipped cream.
  2. This frosting when chilled is strong enough to hold up to piping, these simple rosettes took only about 5 minutes of extra work to make the cake look extra special.
Notes
  1. This recipe makes enough frosting for a three tiered cake, but you can cut it in half for a smaller cake.
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