Carrot Cake with Creamy Browned Butter Frosting

March 21, 2013 in baking by Mary Carol



I have known that February plus March will forever equal “birthday-palooza” in this family, but it wasn’t until we found ourselves at the home of some good friends to celebrate their youngest son’s birthday and spend the weekend, coincidentally celebrating Brian’s birthday too, that we realized we were actually circa-celebrating* the birthdays of everyone in our two families of four except for two of us! Earlier in February, a surprise snowstorm had put a kink in our plans to get together with them at our house, but a carrot cake had been requested for the birthday to celebrate that weekend, therefore, it was carrot cake we brought along with us this time around.

Harper and Brian’s birthdays are just one day apart. I actually went into labor three years ago on Brian’s birthday. Naturally, though, Harper took her sweet time so she could have her own day for celebrating. My mom’s is four days later. Sam’s due date was two weeks after his dad’s and sister’s birthdays, but he instead came two weeks before them, giving us our February celebration. Needless to say, this time of year is always going to be busy for someone who likes to make each of them a birthday cake of their own from scratch.


I forgave myself this year for the most part, when it got combined into two homemade cakes total. Sam got his own cake, if you remember; Brian’s was this one ( he took it well); and Harper had *GULP* store bought cupcakes at the zoo ( I wish I hadn’t just admitted that…). But in the future, I plan to make it work- a cake for everyone- and a party too, if that’s their thing. Huzzah!


So, on Brian’s real live birthday this year, we sang with this cake- to three grownups and two children. (You should have heard the fun time we had squeezing all those names into “Happy Birthday dear __________, “)

This cake sang back.  (Hello, browned butter frosting.) 


Those brown bits you see in the frosting are the browned butter bits- “fond,” if you’ve watched as many cooking shows as I have. When I originally made the cake for the birthdays, I strained those out. This time, I’m glad I decided to leave them in. I love the added dottiness. I guess it speaks to me. If you prefer to strain them out, that’s fine too. You won’t lose any of that distinct browned butter flavor that makes this seriously unique.



Earlier, this was a birthday cake. Today, this cake is a celebration of Spring…or maybe it’s your birthday too!? Northeast Georgia is still chilly- but we’ve been pretending it’s warm by running barefoot in sandboxes and swinging from trees.

What are you doing to celebrate the equinox? Carrot cake?

5.0 from 1 reviews

Carrot Cake with Creamy Browned Butter Frosting

  • FOR THE CAKE (adapted from
  • 1 lb carrots, peeled
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup sour cream (reduced fat is okay)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple in juice, drained thoroughly
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • dash of sea salt
  • 3½ c. powdered sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and center rack.
  2. Peel carrots and chop to a coarse grate in a food processor or grate with large holes of a box grater
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice together in a large bowl and set aside.
  4. Lightly beat the eggs with a fork in a separate bowl. Add the sugar, brown sugar, applesauce, sour cream, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and continue beating until well blended. Using a spatula, stir in the shredded carrots and drained pineapple.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto a rack to cool completely before frosting.
  8. For the frosting, place one stick of butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat until browned- about 6 minutes. Butter will foam up and then bubble before turning brown. (Mine ended up with fond in the pan, which you could either strain out, or leave in)
  9. Cool browned butter in the refrigerator for 15 minutes
  10. Once cooled,combine with an electric mixer, browned butter, regular butter, and cream cheese until smooth.
  11. Add vanilla extract and salt
  12. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, mixing well in between. After 3 cups, taste to see if more is needed. If so, add the final half cup powdered sugar.
  13. Place one cooled cake layer on a cake round or serving platter. Frost with ¼ to ½ inch frosting (you don’t want to skimp with this one!)
  14. Place second layer on top and dirty ice the cake. Place into refrigerator to chill for 20-30 minutes or more.
  15. Add more frosting and decorate cake as you wish. (I used a small spoon to create the swirls around the cake and on top).

This recipe makes enough cake batter to fill two 8-inch layer pans, two 9-inch layer pans, or three 6-inch layer pans, OR a bundt pan, OR about two dozen cupcakes.

*”Circa-celebrating”- I made that term up…what do you think?

**A few things about the actual cake I made- for the birthday celebrations, I made the cake that goes along with the recipe from the Fauxmartha. It was good. However, if you’re someone who loves carrot cake, I’m going to assume you love all the good stuff that has been known to be a part of that cake, and that recipe was just carrots and the regular cake stuff- nothing else. So, when I made it again for this post, I wanted something with more in it. This one has a lot, but not everything. I left out nuts and raisins, not because I don’t like them, but because I wanted a bit of a balance of really moist, deliciously spiced cake, with good texture, but not made up of texture. Nuts would have been good, I decided.


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