It was my friend’s birthday Saturday — Valentine’s Day — so I wanted to bake him a cake. I found out from his girlfriend his favorite kind of cake and baked it Friday. There was only one small hiccup. He was in Taiwan and I was in the US, so I ate the cake and sent him pictures. I thought that would be hilarious; I’m not sure he felt the same way.
As usual, I cut about 1/4 to 1/3 of the sugar out of the recipe, because white granulated sugar doesn’t taste like anything. It just tastes SWEET in all caps, sucker punch to the teeth. I also didn’t have enough cream cheese, and I learned the hard way that you absolutely do need an entire pound of cream cheese if you want to frost this cake the right way.
The oven was still broken and I tried to jerry-rig the toaster oven to cook two cake layers simultaneously. I do not recommend this, because I think the entire thing just cooked slower and I baked the layers for almost an hour.
When you make the cream cheese frosting, be sure that the butter is softened and to whip it first. There have been times when the butter has remained cold and then I had to pick out flecks of solid butter out of the frosting. Guys, it’s not pretty or tasty. Also, unless you use high quality butter (e.g. not Costco butter) butter can have a greasy taste. You can cover it up with oodles of sugar or vanilla or spice, but this is the time you want to add a little something extra to your frosting.
Nutty Brown Butter Carrot Cake
ADAPTED from David Lebovitz
YIELDS One 8- or 9-inch (20-23cm) double layer cake
INGREDIENTS FOR CAKE:
4 large eggs, at room temperature
¼ cup (60ml) vegetable oil
¾ c (180ml) melted brown butter (or more oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
generous pinch each of nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups loosely packed grated carrots
1/2 cup (60g) raisins, preferably golden raisins (sultanas)
1 cup of toasted walnuts, chopped
INGREDIENTS FOR FROSTING
1 pound (450g) cream cheese, at room temperature
4 oz (110g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2-3 cups (240-360g) powdered sugar, sifted
a dash of cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter and flour two 8- or 9-inch (20-23cm) cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. The cake is sticky so you do really want to use the parchment paper.
To make the cake, sift together the flour, sugar, spices, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. With a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle or a fork, beat the eggs until they are pale and frothy (they need not increase dramatically in volume). With the mixer running, drizzle in the oil and melted butter, then the vanilla.
Add the dry ingredients to the eggs and mix carefully until just combined. Fold in the carrots, raisins, and walnuts, then divide the batter between the two pans. Bake 45-50 minutes, until the surface springs back when gently touched. Cool the cakes completely before frosting.
To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar (do this on low speed to avoid a dust cloud) and mix until light and silky. Add the vanilla.