Nude Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

This nude carrot cake with brown butter cream cheese frosting is moist, tender, and everything you’d hope a carrot cake would be! The brown butter frosting adds depth and variety, and the pretty garnishes on top add beauty and additional flavor and texture. Learn how to make this carrot cake below.

nude/naked carrot cake with candied carrot rosettes and greenery from carrot stems. Cake is on a white and wood platter with nuts scattered around the base.

What Ingredients Are in a Nude Carrot Cake?

The ingredients for this nude carrot cake include all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, leavener, canola oil, shredded carrots, pineapple, cinnamon, salt, pureed carrots, eggs, and vanilla.

The brown butter cream cheese frosting includes cream cheese, browned butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar.

For the garnish, you can use either pecans, walnuts, or crushed graham cracker crumbs. In addition, the candied carrots add a beautiful touch.

naked carrot cake with candied carrot rosettes and carrot leaves on a wood and white platter

Naked Cake Vs. Regular Cake

What’s the difference between a naked cake and a regular cake? The main difference is that a regular cake has frosting between the layers and is completely coated on the outside with frosting.

A naked cake, also known as a nude cake or semi-naked cake, has frosting between the layers but does not have to be coated with frosting on the outside. Most often, naked or nude cakes have a light crumb coat on the outside, but the cake layers still show through.

Using a light crumb is my preferred method for making a carrot cake nude because the light crumb coat helps to seal in moisture. It’s really the best of both worlds to get the look of a naked cake, while still having the benefits of a frosted cake.

I also prefer making this carrot cake naked because cream cheese frosting can be really rich. I prefer the lighter coating of frosting to balance the richness.

Best Cake Pans for a Nude Carrot Cake

Long ago, when I worked as a professional wedding cake designer, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen doing all things cake. I worked for the premier wedding cake designer in Utah, and we always used Fat Daddio cake pans.

While I like various other brands, no other pans work quite as well as Fat Daddio. Williams-Sonoma Gold Touch is a close second, but I still prefer Fat Daddio.

The reason they work so well? They are light in color, and the anodized aluminum is the perfect choice for conducting heat evenly. Cakes are less likely to overbake or brown too much when you use the right cake pans.

For this nude carrot cake, you’ll need three eight-inch pans. I also recommend lining them with parchment paper rounds because it makes removing the cakes a cinch. This is optional of course, but so worth the small investment!.

3 layer carrot cake with brown butter cream cheese frosting showing the interior of the cake with a few slices missing

Do You Need Frosting for a Naked Cake?

Yes and no. If you are making a layered naked carrot cake (as we are in this recipe), then you need frosting between the layers. You do not have to ice around the outside of the cake, however.

With that being said, adding a light crumb coat to the outside helps lock in moisture, so I still recommend doing a light coating of frosting and then removing most of it to make the carrot cake nude or semi-naked.

How to Make Even Carrot Cake Layers

Eyeing the cake batter as you pour it into the cake pans is not the answer. There’s no way to get them 100% even with this method.

Instead, the easiest way to create even carrot cake layers is by weighing the batter for each pan. In my recipe, I give you the exact amount of batter you need for each pan, making it simple to create layers that are the same height and thickness.

In order to weigh the batter, you’ll need a kitchen scale. But then again, you’ll need a scale for most of my recipes because grams are more accurate than cups (always).

slice of 3 layer nude carrot cake with brown butter cream cheese frosting

The Secret to Moist Carrot Cake

Have you ever taken a bite of carrot cake that was disappointingly dry and flavorless? No amount of brown butter cream cheese frosting can make up for a poorly made cake. That’s why we start out with a moist carrot cake recipe that gives you a beautiful crumb with good flavor.

This recipe contains shredded carrots and (the secret ingredient) pureed carrots. Carrot puree is packed with moisture, helping this cake stay hydrated during and after baking. For the best results, use baby food carrots (preferably organic) because they are completely smooth and silky.

What is Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting?

Brown butter cream cheese frosting includes butter that has been browned, and then mixed with powdered sugar, vanilla, and cream cheese. Simple, right?

I also use a variation of brown butter frosting in these oatmeal cream pie cookies that is to die for!

top view of carrot cake to show pretty frosting design and candied carrots on top

How to Store This Cake

To store your nude carrot cake, you can keep it at room temperature for up to two hours (as long as your kitchen isn’t hot). Otherwise, cover the cake in a cake container or gently wrap it with plastic wrap, then refrigerate it for up to a week.

Pro Tip: Chill the cake for a couple of hours, then gently wrap it in a plastic wrap. Once the frosted cake is chilled, the frosting isn’t as likely to the plastic wrap.

You can also slice and freeze individual layers of cake or freeze the cake whole. With either method, wrap the naked carrot cake or cake slices in plastic wrap and then place them in a freezer bag (for slices only).

Can You Make This Cake Ahead?

There are 2 ways to make this nude carrot cake ahead. First, you can make and assemble the cake 1-2 days before serving.

Second, you can make the cake layers ahead and freeze them. After they bake and cool, wrap each layer well in plastic wrap and freeze for up to a month before using.

The brown butter cream cheese frosting can be made up to a week in advance and refrigerated. It must be consumed within two weeks if the frosting isn’t frozen.

Essential Baking Tools for Carrot Cake

  • Three 8-inch cake pans (these are the best!)
  • Parchment paper rounds
  • An offset spatula
  • A whisk
  • A rotating cake stand (I use this one)
  • A vegetable peeler
Print

Nude Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

naked carrot cake with candied carrot rosettes and carrot leaves on a wood and white platter

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5 from 1 review

3-layer carrot cake made with pureed carrots, cinnamon, shredded carrots, a hint of pineapple, and more! This cake is the perfect dessert for Easter, spring celebrations, summer, and birthdays.

  • Author: Camille
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Chill Time/Cool Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 23 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 53 minutes
  • Yield: 10 servings 1x
  • Category: Cake
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Units Scale

For the Nude Carrot Cake Layers

  • 360 g all-purpose flour
  • 420 g granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 16 oz puree baby food carrots, organic
  • 100 g canned pineapple tidbits or chunks
  • 35 g finely grated carrots
  • 315 ml (1 1/3 c) canola oil
  • 4 large eggs, room temp, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

For the Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese, cold
  • 56 g unsalted butter, browned (1/4 c)
  • 56 g unsalted butter, cold but slightly soft
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 500 g powdered sugar

Candied Carrot Rosettes

  • 12 large carrots
  • 237 ml water
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • Chopped pecans, walnuts, other nuts, or graham cracker crumbs for garnish

Instructions

To Make the Carrot Cake Batter

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, then spray three 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray and line them with parchment rounds.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, stir flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. 
  3. Place pineapple in a blender and blend for 10 seconds. Press the pineapple through a fine mesh strainer to remove as much juice as possible. You should have approximately 30 grams of pineapple pulp left after removing the juice. Set aside.
  4. Next, place finely shredded carrots on a paper towel, wrap the paper towel around the carrots, and squeeze/press to remove excess juice. 
  5. In a medium bowl, add pineapple pulp, pureed carrots, shredded carrots, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk to combine.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula until combined. Be gentle while stirring so you don’t overmix the gluten. 
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the 3 pans, approximately 575 grams per pan. When weighing ingredients, set a cake pan on the scale, set to zero, and then add the cake batter.
  8. Bake for 20 – 23 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when you touch them. If your finger leaves a slight dent on top of the cakes, then they still need to cook 1-3 minutes longer.
  9. Allow cakes to cool for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto cooling racks. Cool completely (approx. 2 hours) before frosting the cakes so that the frosting doesn’t melt.

Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Brown the butter in a small saucepan on medium heat. Stir occasionally for the first 3-5 minutes, and then stir continuously once the butter begins to smell nutty. Remove from heat once the milk solids have browned, and pour into a bowl to cool until the butter solidifies at room temperature (approx. 2 hours)
  2. Cream the cream cheese, brown butter, and regular butter together with a stand mixer and paddle attachment. Add vanilla and mix.
  3. Add the powdered sugar in 4-5 additions, mix on medium low each time. Once all the powdered sugar has been added, turn the mixer to medium and mixer for 3-5 minutes.
  4. The icing is best sued when it’s freshly whipped. Refrigerate the icing if you make it ahead of time, then rewhip the frosting to bring it back to the correct consistency.

To Make the Candied Rosettes

  1. Peel a large carrot with a vegetable peeler so you have long, flat carrot strips. You will neet at least 10, but it’s best to make extras so you can use the best ones.
  2. Add sugar and water to a small or medium saucepan, stir one, then bring to a boil on high heat.
  3. When the syrup begins to boil, turn the heat to medium-low, add carrots, and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, and pour into another pot or glass bowl. This will help to cool the carrots and syrup quicker. 
  5. When the carrots are cool enough to handle, take a carrot strip, remove excess syrup with your fingers, and roll the carrot strip into a rosette.
  6. Repeat with the remaining carrot strips and set the rosettes aside to finish cooling.

Assembling the Nude Carrot Cake

  1. Trim off the tops of the cakes if they are domed. Next, place your cake plate or cardboard round on a rotating cake stand. then place a small smear of frosting on your cake plate (or cardboard round). and put your first cake layer in the center.Add about ¼ of the frosting or a little less on top of the first cake and smooth out to cover the surface of the cake.
  2. Add about 1/4 of the frosting on top of the cake and smooth to cover the surface of the cake.
  3. Add the next cake layer, repeat with the frosting, and then add the final cake layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting (you may not need all of it).
  4. Use a bench scraper to smooth and remove the excess frosting from the sides of the cake. Do this until you can see the cake peaking through to give it a naked look.
  5. Add chopped nuts, candied rosettes, and garnish as desired.
  6. Refrigerate cake if not serving within 2 hours. This cake is best eaten within four days, but it wil last up to one week. (See notes in post about freezing and storing).

Notes

This is a Baker Street Society original recipe.

2 Comments

  1. I haven’t tried to decorate it yet and I made my own carrot purée but these cakes turned out beautifully!!






    • Anneka, I’m so glad your cakes turned out beautifully. I hope you love the flavor of the cake when it’s all put together!

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