My sister Jill has always loved sweets. She'll shamefully admit to eating entire jars of jam in one sitting, or nibbling on the cookies she was trying to save for guests. She's also a great cook and baker. So when she requested a carrot cake for her birthday, I was a little bit intimidated, yet up for the challenge.
And so I spent a day looking at recipes. Did I want to add walnuts? Raisins? That much nutmeg? Like a godsend, David Lebovitz swooped in tweeting, "I'm making carrot cake and listening to the soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar. I guess it's 70s night." I asked for his recipe and he linked me to this guest post on his blog from Barbra Austin in 2010. Gotta love David Lebovitz! So engaged with social media and inspires wonderful carrot cake-making soundtracks.
I loved that this recipe uses brown butter. It gave the cake a beautiful caramel color and filled the house with a nutty butter smell... arguably the best part of the whole process. Or a close second to eating the cream cheese frosting bowl scrapings.
I also liked that this recipe didn't use walnuts. Having worked at a high-volume bake shop for over two years, I know precisely the caloric compromise that comes with adding walnuts to a carrot cake. I would much rather eat those calories in frosting, thank you very much. Plus, my darling roommate (hi, Ashley!) has a nut allergy so that's a great excuse for eliminating the crunchy morsels if I don't want to sound like a moron who talks about calories while munching a mouthful of cake.
When icing the cake, I always keep this bakery tip in mind: spread at least half of the frosting you've made in between cake layers. Isn't it the worst when you have a cake with hardly any frosting in that oh-so-crucial middle area? It may feel like you're overdoing it, but have faith! Plus, if you don't put enough frosting in between layers, you have tons of leftover frosting. (Hm... maybe that wasn't the most convincing argument....)
In the end, everyone seemed pleased. Dan, my roommates, and my two sisters convened for a tea time cake party. My youngest sister had just moved back to NYC days earlier, after four years away at college. It was great to be united again over delicious cake and the celebrating of birthdays!