Burnt Butter

Burnt Butter Carrot Cakes with Cream Cheese Icing

6/04/2018 09:51:00 AM

Burnt butter carrot cakes with cream cheese icing. These gorgeous little cakelets are moist and tender, with the wonderful nutty flavour of burnt butter and the autumnal warmth of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. They're slathered in a tangy cream cheese frosting and topped with crunchy roast pistachios. They're also gluten free! Perfect for afternoon tea, or in my case, my birthday party!

Burnt Butter Carrot Cakes with Cream Cheese Icing

A short while ago, my friend Lily gifted me these beautiful carrots from her farm in the lovely Bega Valley. Aren't they gorgeous! She even hand made that sweet bag to transport them. Too cute!

Beautiful Carrots

I roasted some of the carrots to accompany a roast chicken, and they were beautiful! So sweet and, well, carroty, much more so than the carrots I usually get from the supermarket in a (non-handmade) plastic bag that live for weeks (months?) in my refrigerator crisper. The remainder of the gifted carrots made their way into these carrot cakes!

I'd had Joy the Baker's Brown Butter Carrot Loaf Cake on my to-do list (aka my "Cakes to Bake" board on Pinterest), and this seemed like a good way to use up the lovely carrots! I ended up baking these as my birthday cake. Joy said that the recipe would work with gluten free plain flour, and seeing as I had a coeliac on the invite list, I thought it would be a good option. (Joy recommended Bob's Red Mill GF plain flour, and I followed her recommendation. It seems that all commercially available GF plain flours are slightly different, with different ratios of base flours (rice flour, tapioca flour, sorghum flour, potato flour etc.), and some contain xanthan gum as well. I wasn't sure if a different brand would work in the recipe, so I played it safe and stuck with the recommendation. (To make things even more confusing, Bob's Red Mill makes a couple of different GF plain flours. After much deliberation at the gourmet supermarket, I chose the Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour, which contains xanthan gum, and it worked well!) If you try this recipe with another brand and it works for you, please let me know in the comments!


Apart form the carrots and the flour, the next key ingredient is the burnt butter. Oh man, I love burnt butter. I love it in sauces, I love it drizzled over poached eggs, and I definitely love it in baked goods. (See my burnt butter honey madeleines, and my burnt butter ricotta gnocchi). Everyone describes it as nutty, which it is, but it's so much more than that. It's just got this mouth filling deliciousness and heavenly aroma. Make some and see!

Burnt Butter

Apart from browning the butter, the recipe is a simple matter of mixing wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Easy!

I made a few changes to the recipe - firstly, I (obviously) went for the GF flour, and secondly, I made mini loaves, rather than one big one. I can't resist a mini loaf - they're just so cute! I also skipped Joy's icing recipe, as it seemed like it would be too sweet for my taste. I just did a simple icing of 250 grams cream cheese to a quarter cup icing sugar. (This made quite a tangy, cream-cheese forward icing, which I love, but in the recipe I've suggested using up to half a cup of icing sugar. Start with the smaller amount, taste, and see if you want to add more!)

Burnt Butter Carrot Cakes with Cream Cheese Icing

These cakelets were so good! The cakes themselves were moist and tender-crumbed, with a nice crunch on the edges. They smelled amazing and tasted rather like gingerbread or pumpkin bread - cosy autumnal flavours. Enjoy!

Burnt Butter Carrot Cakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Burnt Butter Carrot Cakes with Cream Cheese Icing
Cake recipe adapted from Joy the Baker, Icing recipe by Sarah

For the cake
170 grams unsalted butter
2 cups plain flour (gluten free, if required - I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour)
3/4 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
For the Icing
250 grams cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4-1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup salted roasted pistachios, roughly chopped

To make the cakes, Preheat the oven to 175C. Butter an 8-loaf mini loaf tray.
Melt the butter in a light-coloured frying pan over a low heat. Continue cooking until the butter foams up and starts to sizzle, and the milk solids separate. Stir with a heatproof spatula to prevent the milk solids sticking to the pan. Once the sizzling has subsided and the butter had turned from yellow to a medium brown colour, (and most importantly, smells amazing), take off the heat and set aside to cool completely.
Whisk together the plain flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl.
In a large measuring jug, whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, buttermilk and cooled melted butter. Stir in the grated carrots.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together gently until combined and no big pockets of flour remain.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until cooked through when tested with a skewer.
Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the icing, beat together the cream cheese, vanilla extract and icing sugar in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Start with the smaller amount of sugar, then taste and add more sugar if you like.
When the loaves are completely cold, spread the icing on the loaves and sprinkle with the chopped pistachios.
Makes 8 mini loaves

Have you made this recipe? Leave a comment below! Tag me on Instagram @sarahcooksblog and hashtag #sarahcooksblog

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  1. They look SO good! I am a total sucker for carrot cake :D

    1. Aww thanks so much! Me too! Gotta make another batch soon :)



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