Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese German Buttercream


 
Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake is taken to the next level with a fluffy, whipped vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. This cake comes together super easily but is super delicious, and would make the perfect easter dessert. #brownbutter #carrotcake #sheetcake #germanbuttercream
Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake is taken to the next level with a fluffy, whipped vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. This cake comes together super easily but is super delicious, and would make the perfect easter dessert. #brownbutter #carrotcake #sheetcake #germanbuttercream
Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake is taken to the next level with a fluffy, whipped vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. This cake comes together super easily but is super delicious, and would make the perfect easter dessert. #brownbutter #carrotcake #sheetcake #germanbuttercream
Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake is taken to the next level with a fluffy, whipped vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. This cake comes together super easily but is super delicious, and would make the perfect easter dessert. #brownbutter #carrotcake #sheetcake #germanbuttercream
Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake is taken to the next level with a fluffy, whipped vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. This cake comes together super easily but is super delicious, and would make the perfect easter dessert. #brownbutter #carrotcake #sheetcake #germanbuttercream
Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake is taken to the next level with a fluffy, whipped vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. This cake comes together super easily but is super delicious, and would make the perfect easter dessert. #brownbutter #carrotcake #sheetcake #germanbuttercream
Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake is taken to the next level with a fluffy, whipped vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. This cake comes together super easily but is super delicious, and would make the perfect easter dessert. #brownbutter #carrotcake #sheetcake #germanbuttercream
Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake is taken to the next level with a fluffy, whipped vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. This cake comes together super easily but is super delicious, and would make the perfect easter dessert. #brownbutter #carrotcake #sheetcake #germanbuttercream
Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake is taken to the next level with a fluffy, whipped vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. This cake comes together super easily but is super delicious, and would make the perfect easter dessert. #brownbutter #carrotcake #sheetcake #germanbuttercream

Can we take a quick wee sec to talk about how AMAZING sheet cakes are?! Nothing on regular layer cakes, I love them too, but sheet cakes are the perfect combo of fancy and laid back (I like to think of myself as that, dreams are free right?!). There’s no stacking required, but you can still use a fancy buttercream, and you get the best buttercream to cake ratio, in my opinion anyway. You can also frost them directly in the pan, which makes them the best for transporting. When I offer to take cake places, I often will make a sheet cake if it’s a bit more of a casual situation. I’ve had my fair share of cake disasters in an uber in the NYC summer, so a stress free transport is a huge bonus for me too. Plus, you get to live your best buttercream swooping life, which is one of my favourite things to do.

Today’s recipe is one that I am so excited to share with you - it’s a brown butter carrot sheet cake, with a vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. I’ve teamed up with my faves at Heilala Vanilla to bring it to you - their amazing vanilla bean paste is in both the cake, and in the dreamy frosting. Not only is their product great, but they are run by the most amazing people, who are doing all kinds of incredible things by injecting money into the economy and providing jobs in the Kingdom of Tonga - you can read a little more about what they do here. They control the whole process from the growing to the processing of the beans, which results in an extremely ethical, high quality, organic product. I am super proud to be partnering with them again.

I started with a pretty simple cake - a fairly standard carrot cake, but upped my game a little by replacing some of the oil with brown butter, and adding some cardamom in along with the other spices. Cakes with both butter and oil are my new fave. You get the moistness from the oil, in this case a neutral oil, but you also get the richness and flavour from the butter, giving you a total win win situation. In this case I browned the butter, which gives it the most incredible depth of flavour to the cake, and plays perfectly with the spices.

And now let’s talk about the buttercream. Ohhhh my, this buttercream. Another thing that I love about sheet cakes is that you can load them up with buttercream that might typically be too unstable to stack a cake with - like soft peaks of whipped cream, or in this case, a German buttercream with a whole load of cream cheese whipped into it. I love cream cheese frosting, but I am not a huge fan of how sweet and gritty it can be from the powdered sugar, so instead I whipped cream cheese into a vanilla bean German buttercream. If you’re new round here, German buttercream is my absolute fave. It is custard or pastry cream (same thing) based, rather than the meringue base of an Italian or Swiss, or powdered sugar base of an American buttercream. This gives it a whole dimension of flavour that the others lack - a beautiful richness, with the pastry cream cutting the butter just perfectly.

Because this cake didn’t have to stack, the buttercream was able to tolerate much more cream cheese than it usually would. The cream cheese gives it a beautiful tang, and sits so nicely with the vanilla, and against the subtle spice of the cake. It is also pillowy soft, and impossibly smooth, making it the perfect pair for the slightly denser nature of a carrot cake. I know I say this a lot about a lot of things, but this buttercream might be my favourite so far. It’s just perfect.

This cake would make the most perfect Easter baking project - I can’t wait to see you enjoy it. Happy Sheet Caking! x

A few wee tips:

  • Heilala have given me a discount code for you to use on vanilla! You can purchase it here, and the code CLOUDY20 will get you 20% off any of their products! I love the paste, the extract, and also the beans (Affiliate link).

  • Both the cake and the pastry cream need time to cool, so I like to make the pastry cream either the day before, or just before I start the cake, to give it plenty of time to cool. Putting it in a shallow dish to cool in the fridge helps too by increasing the surface area, meaning it cools a bit faster. Make sure your cream cheese and butter is also at room temp.

  • If you don’t like nuts in carrot cake, you can just leave them out!

  • If you haven’t made brown butter before, here is a great tutorial. Make sure that you allow it to cool a little before using in your recipe. I like pouring it into my stand mixer then leaving it to cool, swirling occasionally to help distribute some of the heat.

  • I took the cake out of the pan to add the buttercream, but you can absolutely frost it in the pan if you like. Frosting it in the pan is perfect for if you are transporting it, as it makes it super, super easy to carry, because the pan protects it.

 

 

Carrot Sheet Cake with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese German Buttercream

- Makes one 9” x 13” sheet cake -

Carrot Sheet Cake
450g raw Sugar
160g neutral oil
115g butter, browned and cooled
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp Heilala Vanilla Bean Paste
150g all-purpose flour
150g whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp baking soda.
360g carrot, grated
100g walnuts, coarsely chopped

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese German Buttercream
110g sugar
12g corn starch
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp Heilala Vanilla Bean Paste
190g whole milk
340g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g cream cheese, at room temperature

 

- PROCESS -

CARROT SHEET CAKE

Preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c. Grease a 9”x13” (22x33cm) baking pan, and line with parchment paper (I like to cut a piece slightly bigger than my pan, then cut a slit in each corner which form ‘tabs’ and allow you to fold the parchment into the corners nicely).

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the raw sugar, neutral oil, cooled brown butter, and eggs, and mix on medium speed until well combined and slightly lightened in colour, 2-3 minutes. Add the Heilala Vanilla Bean Paste and mix until combined.

In a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and baking soda. Add to the mixer and mix until just combined. Add the carrots and walnuts and mix on low until just combined.

Transfer to the pan, and bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. 

VANILLA BEAN CREAM CHEESE GERMAN BUTTERCREAM

In a bowl, whisk together the sugar and corn starch, then add the egg, egg yolk and salt, and whisk together well. In a medium non-stick saucepan, heat the milk and Heilala Vanilla Bean Paste to just shy of a simmer. Remove from the heat.

Using one hand to whisk constantly, pour half of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. This helps to temper the eggs and stop them from scrambling. Whisk until incorporated, and then pour the whole lot back into the saucepan. 

Heat the milk and egg mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it begins to bubble. It will thicken quickly. Once it has thickened, cook for one minute, then remove from the heat. Pour into a shallow dish or bowl of a stand mixer and press some plastic wrap over the surface to avoid a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold. If you are in a hurry, you can speed up this process by placing the custard mixture into a bowl, and placing the bowl into an ice bath, stirring frequently.

Fit your mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip the custard mixture on medium until creamy and lump-free. Begin adding the butter, a few cubes at a time, until fully incorporated. Add in the cream cheese, and whip until smooth, then whip for a further 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Switch to the paddle attachment and beat on low for 3-4 minutes to help remove any big air bubbles.


ASSEMBLY

Carefully remove the cooled cake from the pan - I do this by turning it onto a wire rack, then using another wire rack with parchment paper on top to flip it up the right way - alternatively you can also put the buttercream on while it is still in the pan, which makes it super easy to transport.

Scrape the buttercream onto the cake, and spread using an offset spatula - swoop it on as desired.

Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature or the fridge.

Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake is taken to the next level with a fluffy, whipped vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. This cake comes together super easily but is super delicious, and would make the perfect easter dessert. #brownbutter #carrotcake #sheetcake #germanbuttercream

Thank you so much to Heilala Vanilla for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own,.

Banana Sheet Cake with Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache


 
Banana Sheet Cake with Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache. A little bit fancy but perfect for a crowd, this banana sheet cake will be your secret dessert weapon! #bananacake #sheetcake #chocolateganache #chocolatefrosting
Banana Sheet Cake with Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache. A little bit fancy but perfect for a crowd, this banana sheet cake will be your secret dessert weapon! #bananacake #sheetcake #chocolateganache #chocolatefrosting
Banana Sheet Cake with Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache. A little bit fancy but perfect for a crowd, this banana sheet cake will be your secret dessert weapon! #bananacake #sheetcake #chocolateganache #chocolatefrosting
Banana Sheet Cake with Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache. A little bit fancy but perfect for a crowd, this banana sheet cake will be your secret dessert weapon! #bananacake #sheetcake #chocolateganache #chocolatefrosting
Banana Sheet Cake with Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache. A little bit fancy but perfect for a crowd, this banana sheet cake will be your secret dessert weapon! #bananacake #sheetcake #chocolateganache #chocolatefrosting
Banana Sheet Cake with Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache. A little bit fancy but perfect for a crowd, this banana sheet cake will be your secret dessert weapon! #bananacake #sheetcake #chocolateganache #chocolatefrosting
Banana Sheet Cake with Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache. A little bit fancy but perfect for a crowd, this banana sheet cake will be your secret dessert weapon! #bananacake #sheetcake #chocolateganache #chocolatefrosting
Banana Sheet Cake with Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache. A little bit fancy but perfect for a crowd, this banana sheet cake will be your secret dessert weapon! #bananacake #sheetcake #chocolateganache #chocolatefrosting

There are very few things I would change about my Husband Rich. He's the consistent to my rollercoaster moods, the calm to my crazy. But he has horrific taste in frosting. Unless it's what we call "shitty chocolate icing" (I've since managed to at least get him to agree to a chocolate american buttercream), he doesn't want anything to do with it. He will scrape the buttercream off cakes, chop it off the top of cupcakes, or just flat out refuse anything involving swiss meringue buttercream. Last weekend I was taking a cake for a friends birthday and he asked if he could BRING HIS OWN FROSTING. And as much as I try to not let it bug me, I always get a little bummed out when he scrapes frosting off or eats around it. My theory is that the fancier it is, the longer it took me, or the more components it has, the higher the chances are of him not liking it. Banana bread? He will eat a whole loaf in a day. Multi component choux buns? He's gonna ask me to leave him some unfilled so he can eat them plain. Luckily I have loads of friends who aren't as basic in baking preferences as Rich, but I always have to remind myself when presenting him with something that's taken me ages or is super intricate, that he's probably not going to like it because he's a monster. Is it just me? Or does this happen to other people too?

I did however manage to sneak this banana sheet cake with whipped dark chocolate ganache past him the other day. Granted, he did request an american buttercream when I made it for him for his birthday, but at least this one didn't get scraped off (I don't know what's wrong with him, honestly, because the ganache is the best part). Banana cake is a huge favourite around our house, probably because it's just banana bread in a different form. 

The cake itself is super super easy, and all I have done is fancied it up a little with a whipped dark chocolate ganache. The ganache is dark and rich, and balances the sweet, moist cake. Feel free to add a different buttercream to this (Rich recommends a double batch of this one, but a dark chocolate swiss meringue situation would also be amazing), but I do encourage you to give the ganache a go. It's worth it. 

A few wee tips:

  • The Ganache does need some time to firm up in the fridge - you want to give it a little time on the bench first to reduce the condensation when you put on the plastic wrap. I like to let it firm up, stirring occasionally, until it is thick and fudgy, and then whip it - It usually needs about half an hour on the bench and then another 60-90 minutes in the fridge. 
  • If you have another mixing bowl that would be great for this, alternatively I like to get the cake in the oven, and then wash out my mixer bowl, and make the ganache directly in it, so when it comes time to whip it, it's already in the right bowl.
  • If you let your ganache sit a little too long and it gets too firm, then as you are whipping it, take a little out, heat up in the microwave until soft and slightly warm, then add to the cold mixture. Mix it in, and repeat if needed to make the ganache the right consistency. 
 

 

Banana Sheet Cake with Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache

- Makes one 9" x 13" cake, serves about 12-18 people depending on slice size -

Banana Cake
250g (2 1/4 sticks/8.8oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
350g (1 3/4 cups) sugar
4 eggs
4 ripe bananas, mashed
2 tsp (8grams) baking soda
60ml (1/4 cup) milk
500g (4 cups) All-purpose flour
2 tsp (8 grams) baking powder

Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache
600g good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
400g heavy cream
pinch salt

Chocolate Pearls and flaky sea salt to finish, optional

- PROCESS -

BANANA CAKE

Preheat the oven to 350f/180c. Grease a 9" x 13" pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a bowl with an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add bananas and beat until incorporated. Add eggs one at a time, ensuring bowl is well scraped down and mixture is well combined. 

Heat milk in the microwave, or a small pan until boiling. Add baking soda to milk, and add to the mix, mixing until well combined. 

Sift flour and baking powder, and add to the mixture. Mix briefly until just combined. Scrape into the prepared pan, and bake 30-45 minutes until lightly golden, and a tester inserted in the middle of a cake comes out clean. If you don't mind the cake being a little more dense, you can also place a clean tea towel over the cake soon after it comes out of the oven and press down gently to help lessen the dome. Allow to cool completely. 

 

WHIPPED CHOCOLATE GANACHE

Place the chocolate in the bowl of a stand mixer or heatproof bowl. Place the cream in a small pan, and place over low heat until just boiling. Pour over the chopped chocolate, add the salt, then cover the bowl with a plate. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Let the ganache sit on the counter for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, then carefully cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge, and leave for 60-90 minutes, checking occasionally, until a scoopable consistency. Place the mixing bowl on the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and mix on medium speed until whipped.

ASSEMBLY

Dump the ganache onto the cooled cake, spread with an offset spatula, and sprinkle with chocolate pearls and flaky sea salt. Slice into squares to serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container. 

Banana Sheet Cake with Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache. A little bit fancy but perfect for a crowd, this banana sheet cake will be your secret dessert weapon! #bananacake #sheetcake #chocolateganache #chocolatefrosting

Chocolate Snack Cake with Chocolate Buttercream


 
Chocolate Snack Cake with Chocolate Buttercream - the perfect cake recipe to have in your back pocket. Tender chocolate cake topped with fluffy chocolate buttercream #chocolatecake #snackcake
Chocolate Snack Cake with Chocolate Buttercream - the perfect cake recipe to have in your back pocket. Tender chocolate cake topped with fluffy chocolate buttercream #chocolatecake #snackcake
Chocolate Snack Cake with Chocolate Buttercream - the perfect cake recipe to have in your back pocket. Tender chocolate cake topped with fluffy chocolate buttercream #chocolatecake #snackcake
Chocolate Snack Cake with Chocolate Buttercream - the perfect cake recipe to have in your back pocket. Tender chocolate cake topped with fluffy chocolate buttercream #chocolatecake #snackcake
Chocolate Snack Cake with Chocolate Buttercream - the perfect cake recipe to have in your back pocket. Tender chocolate cake topped with fluffy chocolate buttercream #chocolatecake #snackcake
Chocolate Snack Cake with Chocolate Buttercream - the perfect cake recipe to have in your back pocket. Tender chocolate cake topped with fluffy chocolate buttercream #chocolatecake #snackcake
Chocolate Snack Cake with Chocolate Buttercream - the perfect cake recipe to have in your back pocket. Tender chocolate cake topped with fluffy chocolate buttercream #chocolatecake #snackcake
Chocolate Snack Cake with Chocolate Buttercream - the perfect cake recipe to have in your back pocket. Tender chocolate cake topped with fluffy chocolate buttercream #chocolatecake #snackcake

Damn, it's been a week. We have been crazy busy working on some new things for the studio - this week we shot our new chair AND launched it all in the same week. Oye. The shoot on Tuesday was so, so much fun - we had a professional photographer in, but I decided it would be fun to see what I could shoot as well, and was surprisingly impressed with what I ended up with! I was super nervous going into it because it wasn't food and there was a model involved, but we made a super detailed mood board, and it was so nice to have something to go off - I think I need to do that more! You can see it all here - have a peep at the chair too. I'm obsessed with it, and can't wait to have a house where we can actually fit one! Lol. 

I made this a few weeks ago and haven't gotten around to sharing it - it is the chocolate cake from my friend Melissa's new Book, The Minimalist Kitchen. The book, like Melissa's blog, is amazingly beautiful, and between recipes, is also filled with tips on how to have a minimalist kitchen. There are all sorts of little tips and tricks in there - I need to take notes, because I am a chronic purchaser of one-use pans and weird sized packets of specialty ingredients, which do not mix well with small shoebox kitchens. 

This cake is super simple but also amazingly delicious - a single layer of cake, loaded up with a dreamy chocolate buttercream. As someone who over commits to making cakes on the regular, usually going with multi-layered, multi-component towers, making something which didn't involve stacking or crumb coating was super fun, and just as yum as a multi layer extravaganza! Melissa makes hers into a round cake, but I chose to make a square, because i've been cracking up over the name "snack cake" ever since I realised it was an actual thing and not a joke name Americans use, so I was desperate to make my own, just so I could call it a snack cake! 

The cake comes together super quickly, and has a very tender crumb. It is then loaded up with a fluffy chocolate buttercream, which reminds me so much of the cakes we used to have for our birthdays as kids, and is one of Richard's fave things ever. The cake got destroyed in about 10 minutes flat when I took it to the studio, and has firmly cemented it's place in my list of back pocket recipes. It would be perfect to make for a bbq, or a small birthday - you can decorate it however you like, and it will always be a crowd pleaser. 

Congrats Melissa, the book is beautiful! 

A few wee tips:

  • Melissa recommends making this in an 8 inch round tin, but I only wanted to frost the top, so I popped it in an 8 inch square and added all the frosting on the top rather than smoothing it down.
  • This would make a perfect layer cake - just double the recipe and bake in two 8 inch tins
  • Melissa adds pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs and shredded coconut on the edges, but I couldn't help but add sprinkles. 
  • If you're used to making big cakes like I am this will seem like not very much mixture - at least it did to me. Don't worry - it makes the perfect amount! 
  • A quick note: I have made this into a layer cake and it worked perfectly! I doubled the cake recipe, and baked it in 3 x 6" tins. You can either double or triple the buttercream recipe if you're making a layer cake.
 

 

Chocolate Snack Cake with Chocolate Buttercream 

- Makes one 8 inch cake -

Cake Batter
Neutral Oil Cooking Spray
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (105g), plus more for the pan
1/4 cup (35g) unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp aluminium free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup (60g) whole milk
1/4 cup (60g) heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 Tbsp (90g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs

Chocolate Buttercream
6 Tbsp (90g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch kosher salt

Garnishes to finish : Coconut, pumpkin seeds and cacao nibs, or sprinkles of your choice

 

- PROCESS -

CHOCOLATE CAKE

Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Lightly spray the interior sides of an 8 inch round or square pan with cooking spray. Use a paper towel to wipe smooth. Add a spoonful of flour and shake around the edges to lightly coat. Discard extra flour. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper cut to size. Set aside. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. 

In a liquid measuring cup, measure the milk, cream, and vanilla. Set aside. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar on the lowest speed for 3-5 minutes. (This will feel odd.) When ready, the butter mixture will begin sticking to the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition; mix until completely combined. 

With the mixer speed still on low, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients in three additions each. This should take 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then beat again on medium-high for 5 seconds to develop the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a light finger poke to the top bounces back and a crumb of chocolate remains on a toothpick. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before running a thin knife around the edge. Transfer to a cooling rack.

CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add all of the buttercream ingredients. Beat on low to incorporate. Once combined, beat on high until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. The frosting will be pale in colour but will deepen as it rests. 

ASSEMBLY

If you are frosting a round cake: Add about two-thirds of the frosting to the top of the cake. Using a spatula, spread the remaining frosting snugly around the sides of the cake, letting the sides of the cake show. Spinning the cake in a circular motion with your spatula pressing down gently in the centre, pull the frosting flat, allowing it to pool at the edges. Pull the spatula around the outside edges once more to connect the sides and top. Lightly sprinkle with garnishes. 

Alternatively, add all the icing to the top of the cake. Spread out with an offset spatula, creating swoops. Add garnishes. 

This cake is best after a 2-hour rest. Store covered at room temp for up to 3 days. 

Chocolate Snack Cake with Chocolate Buttercream - the perfect cake recipe to have in your back pocket. Tender chocolate cake topped with fluffy chocolate buttercream #chocolatecake #snackcake

This recipe was reprinted with permission from The Minimalist Kitchen, ©2018 Melissa Coleman. The Minimalist Kitchen was published by Oxmoor House, 2018