Carrot Cake with Dulce de Leche Buttercream

A lot of things got put on hold after I left for Peru, including this blog! But now I am back and so is Little Baker SF 🙂 I made this cake for someone’s birthday a few months back, but never got around to posting it…probably because the only picture I took I ended up trashing. It looked like someone had attacked it with claws! Actually, “it” was 50 hungry birthday guests 😛 I’m taking it as a compliment!

In making this, I pulled from two sources: Vanilla Sugar for the cake itself and Joy the Baker for the buttercream and for assembly help. Both awesome recipes (and amazing blogs), I’m really pleased with the way they paired together in the final product. (Not that there could ever be anything wrong with carrot cake, dulce de leche and frosting—together or apart.)

The cake has everything a carrot cake should: sweetness from the carrots and raisins, spice from the cinnamon and nutmeg and crunch from the pecans. And the dulce de leche buttercream…dreamy.

Make it. You’ll love it.

Believe me.

Birthday Carrot Cake with Dulce De Leche Buttercream

Makes 1 two-layer 23 cm cake

INGREDIENTS

Carrot Cake (via Vanilla Sugar)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cloves (I omitted this.)

1/2 tsp table salt

1 lb. medium carrots (about 6-7), peeled

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I omitted this too.)

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil

1 1/2 cups raisins

1 cup pecans, roughly chopped

Dulche de Leche Buttercream (from The Pastry Queen via Joy the Baker)

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened

3 tbsp heavy cream (I used reduced-fat milk)

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 cups powdered sugar

a pinch of salt

3/4 cup prepared dulce de leche (I used Nestle’s Manjar Blanco available in Peru)

METHOD

Cake

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 F / 175 C. Spray two 23 cm springform tins with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment and spray parchment.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside.
  3. Shred carrots, which should yield about 3 cups. Transfer the carrots to a bowl and set aside.
  4. With a whisk or hand mixer, process granulated and brown sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. Still whisking or with the hand mixer running, add oil in a steady stream. Whisk or mix until the batter is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 seconds longer. Scrape mixture into medium bowl. Stir in carrots and dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Finally, gently stir in the raisins and chopped pecans until just combined.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 350 F / 175 C until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 45-50 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool cake to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours. (If you omit raisins and nuts, reduce baking time by 10-15 minutes.)

Buttercream

  1. Cream together softened butter and powdered sugar on low using an electric mixer.
  2. Add the milk and vanilla and beat on medium speed until smooth and no lumps appear.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add the prepared dulce de leche and beat to incorporate.  Set aside until ready to use. (Do not refrigerate; it will harden and will not spread if you do.)

Assembly (adapted from Joy the Baker)

  1. On your cake platter or plate, lay the first cake layer top-side up. If uneven, use a serrated knife to trim.
  2. Put about 3/4 of the frosting into the center of the cake layer. Then with an frosting spatula, spread the frosting evenly around the cake surface until you reach the edges.
  3. On a second cake plate, lay the second cake layer, again, top-side up. As with the first layer, if it is uneven, trim with a serrated knife. Next, carefully lay it top-side down onto the first cake layer, onto the frosting.
  4. Gently press the top of the cake down to make sure it is even. Dollop about 1 cup of frosting onto the center of the top of the cake and, again, using your frosting spatula, spread the frosting evenly around the cake surface towards the edges of the cake. Smooth the center. (Frosting will accumulate at the edges if there is excess, which is fine. You will use it to frost the sides.)
  5. Run the frosting spatula under hot water. (This will help you smooth the icing out.) With your clean spatula, scoop up some frosting and spread it across the sides of the cake. Keep doing this until, turning the cake, until all sides are frosted and somewhat smooth. (Don’t worry if it’s not smooth; you will smooth it out the second time you apply frosting.)
  6. Clean your spatula again. With a light but firm touch, place the front edge of the icing spatula along the seam where the side of the cake meets the top of the cake.  (Icing has accumulated here and is creating a rough border to the cake.)  Hold the spatula firmly in one place along this icing seam and slowly being to rotate the revolving cake stand—moving the cake, but not the knife, to smooth the top.  You can leave the icing as rough and rustic, or smooth as you’d like. Clean any stray icing at the base of the cake, or on the cake board with a damp paper towel.
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