My dad has the unfortunate privilege of having been born on June 20th, which means that his birthday almost always gets combined with Father’s Day. He’s always very gracious about it, but I like to try to make him a special birthday cake to make up for it. Carrot cake is his favorite, so I thought about how to make a really special one.
Some of the best carrot cakes I’ve had balance a heavily spiced cake with a tangy, not-too-sweet cream cheese icing. For the cake here, I decided to use fresh ginger instead of the typical ground ginger. That ups the flavor and creates a nice subtly spicy background that offsets the carrots and the sweetness of the raisins. But sometimes, heavily spiced carrot cakes are a little one note. The cinnamon overwhelms the palate and masks the other, less assertive flavors.
To balance the flavor that the fresh ginger added, I browned the butter. Browned butter is almost always better than plain butter, and here it adds an almost caramel, toffee flavor, which works really well with the spicy cake. The brown butter adds a nice flavor, but you have to mix it with oil to have enough fat to make the carrot cake moist.