Brown Butter Carrot Cake: Two-Ways
Two versions of this brown butter Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting for any spring-time gathering!
When it came to this carrot cake, I honestly couldn't decide what the final design should look like. I adore the texture of large coconut shavings but equally love any opportunity for dainty floral details. Since I already made The Only Carrot Cake Recipe You Will Ever Need, the decision to bake the cake in a sheet pan was made first. Once the sheet cake was cut into layers, I discovered that I had enough cake to make BOTH designs!
I tend to focus on larger blooms, but these mini rosettes and cascading lavender are giving me all the feels. Even better? This design is 100-times easier than creating buttercream roses balanced on top of a rose nail or cupcake. I particularly enjoyed piping the flowers directly onto the cake and filling in the gaps with fresh green leaves and random bitty blossoms. I love how organic and flow-y the process became and how the flowers cascade so effortlessly down the sides of the cake.
The color palette of dusty pink, apricot, lavender, and spring green led to version 1 of this Brown Butter Carrot Cake. With spring blooms and bright whites, this cake is fit for any Easter or Mother's Day celebration. However, the airy styling was almost too obvious. Not that this has any effect on the taste of the cake, but it did lead me to version 2...
A bit rustic and rough around the edges, I love the texture of this coconut-covered version of the Brown Butter Carrot Cake. If you can find "ribbon" cut coconut shavings, I definitely recommend them. If not, any shredded or shaved coconut will have a similar effect.
This dark beauty is a huge contrast to its lighter counterpart, but that just goes to show how some simple styling can change the overall feel of a dish. Same great cake, but two entirely different emotions. Which do you like best?
Brown Butter Carrot Cake
makes 2 loaves; serves 8 to 10 each
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups white sugar
2 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil
4 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups shredded carrots
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a half-sheet pan (or two quarter-sheet pans) with butter and line with parchment paper.
Place the butter in a light-coloured saucepan and heat over medium-high. Once the butter melts, turn the heat down to medium. Continue to cook the butter until it turns golden in color and is extremely nutty and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep the butter solids from burning on the bottom of the pan. Transfer the browned butter into a heat-safe contain and allow to slightly cool.
Meanwhile, sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer, beat together the sugar, cooled butter, and oil on medium speed for about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, add in the eggs, one at a time. Add the sour cream and vanilla. Mix until thoroughly combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in two additions. Mix until just combined. Stop the mixer and fold in the carrots until thoroughly combined.
Tip the mixture into the prepared pan(s) and evenly spread it out with an offset spatula. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes.
Once cool, run a thin paring knife around the edges of the cake to loosen. Place a large cutting board on top of the cake. Holding both the pan and cutting board, invert everything upside-down to release the cake. Remove the cake pan and the parchment paper.
For the two loaf cakes, cut the cake into six even rectangles. Cut the cake in half (perpendicular to the long edges). Cut each half into thirds (about 9 X 4-inches each).
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
7 to 8 cups confectioners sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons whole milk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. With the mixer on low, mix in the remaining ingredients until just combined. Once incorporated, turn up the mixer to medium-high and beat until fluffy. Adjust the sugar and milk until your desired consistency in achieved. The frosting should be spreadable but not too runny.
whipped vanilla frosting
For the loaf cakes, fill a piping bag fitted with a medium, round tip or plastic couple with frosting. Pipe an even layer of frosting on the bottom layers of cake. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat. Crumb coat the cakes and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
For the coconut cake, spread a thin, final coat of frosting on the cake. This layer does not need to be perfect but should hide the dark layers of cake. Cover the cake with shredded coconut by gently pushing the flakes into the top and sides of the cake.
For the flower cake, spread the remaining frosting on the top and sides of the cake. Chill the cake in the refrigerator as you tint the whipped vanilla frosting your desired colors for the decorations.
Using a variety of colors and piping tips (I used a small star [Wilton #18], tiny star, drop flower [Wilton #106], and leaf tips), pipe organic flowers and leaves around the top edges of the cake. Allow the flowers to gently cascade over the edges and onto the sides of the cake.
To keep the cake as a simple sheet cake, simply cut in half. Spread a half of the cream cheese frosting between the two layers of cake. Spread the remaining frosting on top. Easier yet, keep the cake whole and frost it in the pan!