Brown Butter Carrot Cake

Updated: Oct 16, 2020

There is nothing more delicious than brown butter in a cake. It adds a hint of caramel and a toasted taste and it's not hard to make. While most carrot cakes use vegetable oil this tastes way better. I have adapted this recipe from American pastry chef Stella Parks Brave Tarts cookbook - she uses brown butter in quite a few recipes. I have reduced the sugar - always too high in American cookbooks. At the moment in Australia you can buy fresh walnuts in some Farmers markets, or alternatively Woollies, but if the latter check you are buying the Australian ones as walnuts go rancid easily, so overseas ones are not such a good option.

For the cake (serves 8)

  • 210 gms walnut pieces (or pecans)

  • 500 gms unpeeled carrots, then peeled.

  • 225 gms unsalted butter

  • 110 gms white sugar

  • 110 gms light brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger

  • ½ tablespoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoons good quality sea salt

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

  • ½ tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 3 large eggs, straight from the fridge

  • 160 gms white all-purpose flour

  • 75 gms whole wheat flour, not stone-ground

For the cream cheese topping:

  • o 125 gms softened unsalted butter

  • o 250 gms cream cheese

  • o 1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence

  • o 40 gms sieved icing sugar.

For the carrot roses

  • One carrot or two different coloured heirloom carrots

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 cup sugar


1) Preheat the oven to 180 fan forced.

2) Prepare a 23 cm cake tin

Line base with baking paper and spray sides with oil

3) Peel and grate the carrots

4) Chop the walnuts into rough pieces, and toast for ten minutes in the oven.

5) Make the brown butter

Half fill your sink with cold water. In a large pan melt the butter, and heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until it starts to hiss and spit. Keep stirring. It will rise up high into a frothy mass, turn the heat right down and keep stirring, scraping any brown bits off the bottom. Take off heat before it goes brown – it should still be golden. Cool the bottom of the pan in the sink with cold water in it to stop it browning further. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bit brown as long as it doesn’t taste burnt. Pour into a heat proof bowl.

6) Put the two sugars into the bowl

Mix the brown and white sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the spices, the baking powder and the bicarb soda. Using the whisk attachment on a slow speed add the eggs one by one and the vanilla. With the mixer going at a higher speed slowly dribble the butter down the side of the bowl. Mix thoroughly until its fluffy, for about 5 minutes.

7) Sift the flours. Fold into mixture, then the carrot and the walnut pieces.

8) Pour the batter into prepared tin and cook for 35-40 minutes, until a skewer stuck in the batter comes out clean. When cool turn out onto a cake rack.

9) Make the cream cheese topping

Beat the cream cheese and butter in a mixer, add in the vanilla essence, then the icing sugar until it’s a thick spreadable consistency. Ice using a palette knife that has been dipped in hot water. Decorate with carrot roses.

10) Carrot roses

Pressing firmly on the carrot cut strips with a potato peeler from the top to the bottom of the carrot.

Boil the sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved.

Dip the strips in the sugar syrup for one minute

Take out with tongs and lie on paper towels.

Roll each strip into a tight rose, twisting the strip as you go to make rose petals. Place on cake

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