Fluffy carrot cake

Fluffy carrot cake

A lighter version (at least in texture) of carrot cake with custard filling and cream cheese frosting

If you're not a fan of a heavy carrot cake with nuts, spices, fruits and carrot shreds reminding you that a vegetable is involved... this version is light, sweet, and delightfully carrot-colored.

This cake is based off a Brazilian bolo de cenoura. However I've only borrowed the cake part, and the decorations and topping are more similar to a traditional American carrot cake.

Make the custard

  1. Combine 1 cup milk, half a vanilla bean, a pinch of salt, and 2 tbsp sugar in a saucepan. Heat until just below a simmer.

  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk 2 yolks, 2 tbsp cornstarch, and 2 tbsp sugar.

  3. Temper the hot milk into the yolks. Then return to the saucepan and cook until thick, whisking constantly.

  4. Strain the custard and stir in 1/2 tbsp butter. Refrigerate until fully chilled.

If you want to skip the custard, make a bit extra cream cheese frosting to fill the cake.

Make the carrot cake

  1. In a large bowl, whisk 260 grams flour, 1 tbsp baking powder, and 1 tsp kosher salt.

  2. Peel and roughly chop 300g carrots (2 large carrots) in big pieces. Add to food processor and pulse into tiny minced pieces.

  3. Add 260g sugar and process for 10-20 seconds until combined.

  4. Add 3 eggs and 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Process for 10-20 seconds until combined and slightly foamy.

  5. Pour the wet into the dry and mix until just combined with some streaks. Add 1/2 cup sour cream and continue whisking until no lumps remain.

  6. Pour into two 8" pans lined with parchment. Bake 45-50 minutes at 350°.

Make cream cheese frosting

  1. Beat 145g softened cream cheese and half a vanilla bean in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until smooth and fluffy.

  2. Switch to the whisk attachment. Add 1.5 cups cream and whip until beginning to thicken. Scrape the bowl to incorporate any stuck cream cheese.

  3. Add 60g powdered sugar. Continue whisking until the texture is like a thick whipped cream.

Assemble the cake

  1. Spread a layer of custard on a layer of cake. Top with the other cake, then gently coat the whole cake with cream cheese frosting.

  2. Decorate as desired. If you wish, toast 8 walnut halves. Use a paring knife to cut a pointy end on 4 baby carrots, then use a peeler to smooth out the cuts. Cut each baby carrot in half so you have 8 halves, and pick some vegetable leaves for greens (I used celery). Use extra icing to pipe a design and arrange decorations on top.

Would I make this cake again?

Sadly this cake didn't taste too much like carrot. I would make it again, but would try to add more carrot flavor somehow. Since you aren't getting the nutty spice flavor, you kind of want it. I wonder if you could replace even more of the oil or sour cream with more carrot?

I did like that it baked very flat and even, and required no leveling. It's also nice that it comes together in the food processor, which I'd probably be getting out anyways to grate carrots.

Thoughts on filling and frosting

I really would like to try making a thicker pastry cream. This barely held together and in fact the top of the cake slid off in transit. The whipped cream cheese frosting is not the most sturdy and couldn't hold it together.

The whipped cream cheese frosting came together nicely, and I'm realizing you can kinda do this with any combination of cream cheese and whipping cream. (For instance some people only use a couple tablespoons of cream cheese to stabilize, while Nigella's Guinness cake uses even more cream cheese.)

You could skip the custard, but may need to make more whipped cream cheese frosting to accommodate.