This simple carrot cake recipe yields an incredibly moist cake with warm spices and a to-die-for, fluffy and creamy browned butter cream cheese frosting.
Keyword carrot cake
Prep Time 1hour
Cook Time 25minutes
Total Time 1hour25minutes
For the Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
16tablespoonsunsalted butter, two sticks at room temperature, divided
1poundfull fat cream cheese, at room temperature
3 ½cupspowdered sugar
4tablespoonsmaple syrup, the darker the better
For the Carrot Cake
1 1/2 cupslight brown sugar
1/2 cupgranulated sugar
4eggs, at room temperature
1cupvegetable or canola oil
¾cupfull fat buttermilk, at room temperature
1poundcarrots, peeled and either shredded in a food processor, or coarsely grated with a box grater (about 4 cups)
2 ½cupsall-purpose flour
Lightly brush the bottoms and sides of two 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pans (or 9 X 13-inch pan) with oil, or spray with non-stick baking spray. Line the bottoms with parchment paper rounds and set aside.
First, brown the butter for your frosting. Add one stick of unsalted butter to a medium sized saucepan and heat over medium. Cook for about 3 minutes or until browned and fragrant (it will smell nutty), swirling the butter and stirring occasionally (be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the pan to release all the brown bits that might have gotten stuck). Once browned, remove from heat and pour into a mixing bowl. Let it cool and solidify while you make your cake.
To Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large mixing bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), whisk the sugars and eggs together until the mixture is thick and lighter in color, 5-6 minutes. While mixing, slowly add the oil to the eggs and sugar until blended and smooth then add the buttermilk and vanilla.
In another bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. If adding nuts, add them to your dry ingredients now, tossing to coat. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture in three additions, mixing between each addition and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure everything is evenly mixed. Gently fold in the carrots (and raisins, if using), making sure there are no remaining pockets of dry ingredients.
Divide the batter between two prepared cake pans (or your 9 X 13-inch pan). One trick I like for even cake layers is to place each pan on my kitchen scale, zero it out, and then add half the batter. Do the same with the other pan and add a bit more as needed so they weigh the same. Bake for 35-40 minutes for 8-inch cake pans, for 9-inch cake pans or a 9 X 13-inch pan bake for 30-35 minutes or until a tester inserted in the centers comes out clean and the sides of the cake pull away from the edges of the pan. Cool for 10 minutes in the pans then run a knife around the edges of the cake pans and carefully invert the cakes on a cooling rack to cool completely.
To Make the Frosting:
While the cake cools, make your frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cooled 8 tablespoons of browned butter with the remaining stick of softened butter. Beat until the butter is light, smooth, and well blended. Add the cream cheese and salt then continue beating on medium to medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure everything is incorporated and there are no lumps. Add the maple syrup and vanilla and then the powdered sugar (1 cup at a time), beating until the frosting is smooth, whipped, and fluffy. Set aside until ready to use or refrigerate for up to 1 week if making it in advance.
To Assemble the Cake:
Place a heaping cup of icing on the first cake layer and use an offset spatula to spread it out. Top with your second layer and another heaping cup of icing, spreading down the sides and covering the whole cake. Note: Depending on how much icing you’d like on your cake, you may have have ¼ - ½ cup extra icing leftover.
• Add in 1-1½ cups toasted, chopped walnuts or pecans (I prefer walnuts), and/or ½ cup golden raisins if desired. To toast the nuts: Spread them out on a small sheet pan and roast in a 350°F oven for about 8-10 minutes, or until they are fragrant and golden brown.• Store the cake in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and bring to room temperature to serve.