Brown Butter Carrot Cake with Sesame Cream Cheese Frosting

I can't remember the last time I had carrot cake.  I suppose I'm not really a fan until I came across a recipe that uses brown butter instead of oil.  I love the nutty flavour that brown butter lends to baked goods, especially cookies, so I knew I had to make this cake.

Carrot cakes tend to be dense due to the water content of the shredded carrots.  To combat that extra moisture, I used a combination of all-purpose and spelt flours.  Spelt flour has a high capacity for moisture absorption so this recipe yields a moist (but not overly moist) and fluffy cake.



I wanted a frosting that was different from the classic cream cheese, without going overboard with deviations.  Butter and Brioche adds Tahini to her cream cheese frosting, but I used sesame seed paste since that was what I had.  I figured, hey, both are essentially the same, so I was good to go.


After a few (few! hah!) slices, I can say I am a fan of this cake.  The cake is perfect - not at all dense, thanks to the addition of spelt flour.  I love the hint of the earthiness of the sesame seed paste in the frosting.  The flavours taste so familiar, yet it's something definitely new.  Am I even making sense right now?  Anyway, the frosting is amazing.


Brown Butter Carrot Cake with Sesame-Cream Cheese Frosting

(Cake recipe from Brave Tart.  I halved her recipe to make three 6-inch cakes.  Double the recipe for an 8 or 9-inch cake) 

For the cake:

3                Medium-sized carrots (to yield 340 grams of grated carrots)
225 grams Unsalted butter
198 grams White sugar
113 grams Brown sugar
2 tsp.         Ground cinnamon
2 tsp.         Ground ginger
1.5 tsp.      Baking powder
3/4 tsp.      Sea salt
1/2 tsp.      Baking soda
1.5 tsp.      Nutmeg
1/4 tsp.      Ground cloves
1.5 tsp.      Vanilla extract
3                Large eggs
155 grams All-purpose flour
70 grams   Spelt flour
100 grams Walnuts, chopped (optional)
100 grams Golden raisins (optional)

For the Frosting (adapted from Butter and Brioche):

113 grams  Cream cheese (softened)
113 grams  Unsalted butter (softened)
30 grams    Tahini
1/2 tsp.       Sea salt
2 tsp.          Lemon Juice
1.5 tsp.       Vanilla extract
120 grams  Powdered sugar

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease and line pans with parchment paper.

1.  In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, completely melt butter over medium heat.  Let it simmer, stirring with a heat-resistant spatula.  Continue cooking and stirring, scraping up any brown bits at the bottom and sides of the pan, until butter is golden yellow and perfectly silent.  Pour into a heat-safe measuring cup along with the browned bits.  Set aside.

2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, combine both sugars, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, cloves, and the 3 eggs.  Turn mixer on low speed to moisten everything and increase speed to medium.  Continue whisking until mixture turns light, fluffy, and almost double in size, about 8 minutes.  Meanwhile mix both flours in a separate bowl.  Set aside.

3.  Drizzle in the butter in a slow, steady stream.  Do not rush, as the butter needs to be emulsified into the egg mixture.  This process takes about 5 minutes.  If the butter separates, it means you're adding the butter too fast.  Reduce speed to low and add the flours all at once.  Mix until just combined.

4.  Turn off mixer and fold in grated carrots, walnuts (if using), and raisins (if using).

5.  Divide the batter evenly between the three pans and bake them for 40-45 minutes, but check on the cakes at the 30th-minute mark.

6.  When the cakes are done, let them cool directly in the pans for one hour.  Invert to a wire rack, leave to cool completely.  Prepare the frosting.

Frosting:

1.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the softened cream cheese, butter, sesame seed paste, and salt on medium speed until smooth and creamy.

2.  Add lemon juice and vanilla.  Continue beating until fully combined.

3.  Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar.  When you have added all the powdered sugar, increase speed to medium and whisk for 3 minutes or until very fluffy.





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