4 Layers with Maple Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting & Pecans
2 cups all purpose flour [240 g]
1 tsp baking soda [5 g]
2 tsp baking powder [8 g]
1 tsp table salt [5.7 g]
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon [4 g]
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg [1.2 g]
1/2 tsp ground ginger [0.9 g]
1/2 tsp ground cloves [1.1 g]
1/4 tsp allspice [0.5 g]
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar [267 g]
1 cup vegetable oil [240 mL]
1/2 cup crushed pineapple (fresh or canned) [112.5 g] - sub with apple sauce
2 tsp vanilla extract [10 mL]
4 large eggs [200 g without shell]
3 cups grated peeled carrots [330 g]
(powdered sugar for dusting)
Frosting and Decoration:
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter [227 g]
16 oz (2 bars) cream cheese (cold) [453 g]
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar [180 g]
1/4 cup pure maple syrup [60 mL]
1 tsp vanilla extract [5 mL]
1/4 tsp table salt [1.4 g]
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped and toasted (optional) [110 g]
Browning the Butter:
In a small saucepan, add in 2 sticks (1 cup) of unsalted butter, and melt it over medium heat. Allow the butter to brown. It is done when the butter has a golden-brown amber color and starts to smell nutty.
Remove the butter from the heat, transfer to a clean bowl. Rest this browned butter in the fridge for about 2 hours, until it is solid again.
Peel your carrots and grate them to make 3 cups total. Place your oven rack in the middle position, and preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C).
Butter / grease a 13" x 18" baking sheet, line it with parchment paper, and butter / grease the parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp table salt, 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, and 1/4 tsp allspice.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, add in 1 1/3 cups of granulated sugar, 1 cup of vegetable oil, 1/2 cup of crushed pineapple (fresh or canned), and 2 tsp vanilla extract. With the paddle attachment, mix these together on medium speed till it is smooth. Then add in 4 large eggs, 1 at a time, waiting for the previous egg to be fully incorporated before adding the next one.
When these wet ingredients are fully combined, turn the mixer speed down to lowest speed, and slowly add in the dry ingredients, and continue mixing just until they are combined. Detach the bowl from the stand mixer, and scrape down the bowl.
Add in the 3 cups of grated carrots and fold these in until everything is well combined. Scrape down the bowl.
Pour the batter into the prepared 13" x 18" sheet pan and smooth the surface out with a spatula as much as you can. Bake this in the preheated oven at 350 F (175 C) for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the center of the cake is firm and springs back when gently pressed.
Place the pan on a wire rack, and let the cake cool completely to room temperature.
When the browned butter has firmed up, take the bowl of your stand mixer and add in the firm browned butter and 16 ounces (2 bars) of cream cheese. Attach the paddle attachment, and beat this on medium speed till the browned butter and cream cheese are incorporated and look fluffy.
Turn down the mixer to low speed, and slowly add in the powdered sugar, careful so it does not fly everywhere.
When all the powdered sugar has been added, turn the speed back up to medium, and add in 1/4 cup of maple syrup, 1 tsp of vanilla extract, and 1/4 tsp of table salt. Continue mixing until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Let this cream cheese frosting rest at room temperature till you're ready to use it. On a very hot day, you might have to keep it in the fridge to firm up if it gets too runny.
Assembling the Cake:
When the cake has cooled to room temperature, dust some powdered sugar over the surface to prevent sticking. Place a giant rectangular piece of parchment paper that's bigger than the cake
over the cake, then quickly and carefully flip the cake over onto the parchment. Lift off the sheet pan, and peel off the parchment paper the cake was baked with.
With a sharp knife, cut the cake in half vertically, then again in half horizontally, so that you get four rectangles that are about the same size: 6" by 8" each.
Place the first rectangle on your serving dish (we're using a wooden chopping board). Add 2/3 cup of frosting over the cake, and spread it to create a flat even layer.
Do the same thing with the second and third rectangles, so that there is 2/3 cup of cream cheese frosting between each cake layer. Use an offset spatula to create an even and flat layer of frosting. If some parts of the rectangles are thinner and some parts are thicker, try to even them out by placing the thin part of one rectangle over the thick part of the previous rectangle.
Place the fourth rectangle of cake on top, and apply a thin layer of frosting as a crumb coat. Let this cake with the crumb coat, as well as the remaining frosting, rest in the fridge for 30 minutes - for the crumb coat to firm up.
When the crumb coat has firmed up, use the remaining frosting to coat the cake with a final layer. Use a bench scraper to smoothen out the top and the sides. Let the cake rest in the fridge for it to firm up and stabilize.
Optional step: while the cake is firming up in the fridge, take 1 cup of pecans (about 4 oz or 110 grams) coarsely chop them up into small pieces. Then toast them in a skillet, then let them cool to room temperature.
When the chopped / toasted pecans have cooled to room temperature, gently press them onto the sides of your cake as decoration. There should be enough pecans to go halfway up the sides of your cake, on all 4 sides.
Chill the finished cake for a minimum of 2 hours to overnight, for the layers to set. Take it out of the fridge about 20 to 30 minutes before serving, for the frosting to soften and for the cake to have a more vibrant flavor. Enjoy!