carrot pecan layer cake with browned butter icing

I succumbed to temptation and bought a copy of Dessert Person by Claire Saffitz. I borrowed the book from my local library and I found I wanted to make at least half the recipes in the book so I had no choice but to buy my own copy.
This is the first cake recipe I made from the book and I made it to celebrate a colleague's birthday, one who just adores cream cheese icing. Carrot cake is the perfect vehicle for cream cheese icing and although I have my own favourite carrot cake recipe I thought I'd try the recipe in the book.
Claire's recipes are very well written with loads of instructions and if you follow them to the letter, I'm sure you won't go wrong. There are lots of steps in the recipe but you can make a few things ahead, like the glazed carrot slices (my own addition) and the brown butter cream cheese icing. I certainly made the carrot cake layers the day before I iced them to allow them to cool and set a little.
I took the cake into work and it disappeared in a flash. One workmate declared it the best carrot cake she'd ever eaten and the brown butter cream cheese icing is so good you could seriously eat it by the spoonful.
Here's the recipe for you which makes a 3 layer 16cm cake. If you'd like to make a 9 inch version just double all the ingredients and the baking time should stay the same. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.
Carrot and Pecan Layer Cake with Browned Butter icing adapted from a Claire Saffitz recipe - makes a 3 layer 16 cm cake
225g carrots, peeled and coarsely grated  
½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature 
1½ tsp finely grated fresh ginger 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
75g pecan pieces, toasted
1¼ cups plain flour 
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger 
½ tsp nutmeg 
1 tsp baking powder  
Pinch salt 
½ tsp bicarb soda 
2 eggs at room temperature 
75g caster sugar 
75g cup brown sugar 
½ cup vegetable oil

Glazed Carrot Slices 
Half a carrot, very thinly sliced 
2 tbs maple syrup or maple flavoured syrup

Brown Butter Cream Cheese Icing 
113g unsalted butter, at room temperature 
250g full fat Philadelphia cream cheese, at room temperature 
1 tsp vanilla paste  
Generous pinch of salt 
250g sifted icing sugar 
Maple glazed carrots/toasted pecans for decoration

Cake Method 
Preheat the oven to 180ºC, conventional. Grease, flour and line the base of three 16cm cake pans with baking paper, smoothing to eliminate air bubbles. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the carrots, buttermilk, fresh ginger and vanilla. Set aside.

Coarsely chop ⅔ pecans. Set aside. Whiz the remaining ⅓ of nuts in a food processor to make a coarse meal. Transfer to a medium bowl. To that bowl add the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, salt, bicarb soda and whisk to combine. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the eggs and the sugars. Beat first on medium-low to break up the eggs, then increase to medium-high and beat until the mixture falls off the whisk and back into the bowl in a slowly dissolving ribbon, about 4 minutes. With the mixer on medium-high, very slowly stream in the oil until the mixture is smooth and emulsified.

Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add about ⅓ of the flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until flour has almost disappeared. Scrape in half of the carrot mixture, mixing well until incorporated and then add the remaining flour in 2 additions, alternating with the remaining carrot mixture. When the last traces of flour disappear, use a spatula to scrape down sides and fold the batter several times to make sure it’s evenly mixed. Then fold in the pecan pieces.

Divide the batter among the three prepared cake pans. Transfer pans to the oven, placing two on the upper rack and one on the lower (stagger pans so the pan below doesn’t have another directly above it). Bake until cakes are springy to the touch in the centre and a cake tester inserted into the centres comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes, switching and rotating pans front to back after 10 minutes.

Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool completely in the pans. Use a small offset spatula or paring knife to loosen the sides. Transfer to a wire rack and peel off the parchment paper. Reinvert to another rack, cutting board or plate and allow to completely cool.

Glazed Carrot Slices  
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (conventional). Toss sliced carrots in maple syrup then spread out in a single layer on a baking paper lined baking tray. Bake until maple syrup is caramelized and the carrots have developed a frilled edge, about 10 minutes. Normally I check the carrots after 5 minutes, and then turn them over. Let cool completely on baking sheet before storing the carrot slices in an airtight container.

Brown the butter in a large covered microwave safe bowl for 5-6 minutes or until nut brown and fragrant. Cool until solidified. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese and vanilla paste on medium-high, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until the mixture is completely smooth. Turn off the mixer, add the salt and all of the icing sugar, and cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel (to shield you from the icing sugar). Pulse the mixer on low several times to incorporate the sugar, then remove the towel and beat the icing on medium-high, scraping down the sides once or twice, until the icing is light, thick, and very smooth, about 1 minute. The icing is now ready to use.

Place a single cake layer upside down on a cake round, a serving plate or cake stand. Using a small offset spatula, spread about ⅓ cup of the icing across the surface. Place another upside-down layer on top, centering it and pressing gently to level, then repeat with another ⅓ cup of the icing. The layers of frosting are thin. Add the final layer of cake then top with another ⅓ cup of the icing. Refrigerate until the icing has hardened, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Decorate as desired with remaining icing (I decided to make a naked cake) and some pecan pieces or maple glazed carrots. As you can see, this makes a delightfully moist cake.
In some other news, I've migrated my email by subscription service to another company, Hopefully it will be a seamless transition.

I'll see you again later this week with some more photos from my mini break in Orange.

See you all again soon. 

Bye for now,




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