This week marks Feast & Fable’s 1 year Blogiversary! And my how she’s grown!
A part of me can hardly believe it’s been a year already and another part feels woozy just thinking of all that’s transpired in the last 12 months. One thing’s for sure, I’ve loved every minute of it!
I was pretty certain when I launched this blog that my mom would be my only reader, and while she’s pretty great, it brings me so much joy to watch this little community expand to include new friends at the table, friends from all over the world. Now if only I could find a way to gather everyone together for one giant dinner party! Wouldn’t THAT be great!?
But until we get those logistics figured out, we’ll just have to settle for this celebratory Spiced Carrot Cake. Which isn’t a bad way to go, considering she’s wrapped in a Brown Butter Frosting and topped with a Salted Caramel Drip. And when I say topped, I mean more like drenched, because caramel does weird things when you’re air conditioning is broken and it’s 90 degrees outside.
This Spiced Carrot Cake is perfect for fall gatherings. Made with a blend of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger and cloves, it bakes with a bit of applesauce in place of oil and includes 2 heaping cups of freshly grated carrots.
This recipe yields three large 6” cake layers and makes for one beautifully tall layer cake. You could also make two large 8” cakes and serve each layer individually. I especially like this idea for afternoon tea!
Regardless of how you stack it, it will be delicious! And as always, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. Thank you for following along and giving life to this great adventure. I look forward to bringing you many more recipes (and ramblings) this year.
Spiced Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Frosting and a Caramel Drip
for the cake:
- 2.5 cups all purpose flour
- 1.5 tsp. sea salt
- 1.5 tsp. baking powder
- 1.5 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp. cardamom
- 1/4 tsp. cloves
- 1.5 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1.5 cups applesauce
- 2 cups grated carrots*
*I recommend freshly grating the carrots versus opting for the pre-shredded store-bought carrots. I tried those once in hopes of saving time, but find they are very dry and do not release much flavor. If you have a food processor, use the grating attachment - works like a charm!
for the frosting and caramel drip:
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 3-4 cups confectioners sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- pinch of sea salt
- 1-2 Tbsp. coconut milk (or other milk/non-dairy milk)
- caramel sauce, either homemade or store-bought (I used Trader Joes' Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce)
MAKE THE CAKE:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 3, 6” cake pans. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom and cloves. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a medium bowl, add the brown and white sugars and the butter. Beat until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Then, beat in each egg, one at a time. Lastly add the vanilla and applesauce and beat until just combined.
Next, pour the flour mixture into the wet mixture. Mix until just combined. Lastly, add in the shredded carrots and stir to combine.
Pour the batter evenly between the cake pans and place in center of the oven. Check for doneness around 35 minutes, but it’s likely they will need to bake for about 40 minutes.
Once baked, remove the cake pans from the oven and let cool. Once cooled, flip each layer out of the pan, dome side down, on a cooling rack. Use a butter knife to help loosen the edges if needed, but be careful not to cut into the cake as a smooth edge makes for easier icing.
While the cakes finish cooling, prepare the frosting.
PREPARE THE FROSTING:
Place the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. As the butter begins to melt, it will foam and the color will begin to change from a pale yellow to a golden yellow and finally to a toasty-brown color. Give the pan a swirl as it heats to cook evenly. Once you smell a nutty aroma and the color is toasty-brown, quickly remove the pan off the heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer or a mixing bowl (leave any sediment behind).
Next, add in the confectioner’s sugar, a pinch of salt, the vanilla extract and 1 Tbsp. milk or coconut milk. Beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. If the frosting is too thin, add a bit more of the confectioner’s sugar. If the frosting is too thick, add another dash of milk. The frosting should be thin, but spreadable.
ASSEMBLE THE CAKE:
First, use a sharp knife to level each cake layer. Then, place one layer on a cake stand or plate and spread an even layer of icing on top. Next, place the second layer on top of the first layer and repeat with the icing. Lastly, place the last layer of cake - bottom side up - on top of the second layer. (Placing it bottom side up gives you a smooth and even surface on top.) Place a large heap of icing on top and spread until smooth. Use a small offset spatula and give the entire cake a crumb coat of icing. Then, place in the refrigerator to set for about 10-20 minutes. Once chilled, remove the cake and apply another thin layer of icing. Place back in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the caramel.
You can opt to make your own caramel or purchase an already made caramel sauce if you are short on time. For this cake, I chose to use Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel caramel sauce. Regardless, you’ll want to heat the caramel in a saucepan and whisk until it’s thin and easily spreadable. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 5-10 minutes. Then, remove your cake from the refrigerator and slowly pour the caramel on top of the cake, a few spoonfuls at a time. Use your offset spatula to gently smooth the caramel over the top of the cake and allow it to drip over the edge. You can add as much or as little caramel as you like!
Once you’ve finished creating the caramel drip, place back in the fridge to allow the caramel time to firm up a bit. Then, serve and enjoy!