Spiced Rum Carrot Cake
The Irish inspired, Spiced Rum Carrot Cake makes a two or three layer cake full of fresh grated carrots made incredibly moist by the addition of applesauce. A little rum and spice add another layer of flavor, while the spiced cream cheese frosting flows like a creamy dream in an updated and easy to make version of a carrot cake and cream cheese pairing made in heaven.
Brown Betties in Dublin Town
The first time I had carrot cake was in the Bewley’s Cafe on Westmoreland Street in Dublin, Ireland. Bewley’s was a Dublin institution, founded in 1840 with various locations, including the one I frequented on Westmoreland.
It was dark wood panels from ceiling to floor. There were various rooms, many little nooks in which to sit, the odd potted palm tree, and a second level…I think (I know there was a second level at the Grafton Street location.)
It was heaven. They had buffet style rows of all around staples (bangers, mashed potatoes, beef stew, roast chicken, peas, beans, etc.) and the most delicious desserts, including layer cakes and cream puffs. The staff all wore black and white Victorian style uniforms and served coffee and tea, also helping with the food service.
The feeling of heaven came for independent types like me, alone in a new place, after my plate had been filled up. With my dessert and pot of tea in tow, I would search the wide rooms and small alcoves for an empty chair and table.
Once you found your place, the servers wouldn’t come to your table or bother you in any way.
Just you and your bangers, you and your pot of Bewley’s tea, you and your dessert.
For as long as you liked.
Carrot Cake, Irish Style
It was at this Bewley’s that I first tasted carrot cake. Somehow, it had escaped my lips as a teen until my 22nd year. The one in Dublin. It was soft, with the delicate texture of grated carrot, the thin layers of sweet, fluffy cream cheese frosting, and the crunch of the fine walnuts. I had it twice at most, but never forgot it.
I made one last December, for my sweets’ birthday, our first in our home together in Brooklyn. It was beautiful–an oil cake guaranteeing moisture and a soft touch. In addition, applesauce also fed into the lovely texture.
Birthday Cake, Carrot Style
This time, it was autumn, and burnt orange was everywhere, just to my liking. The cake as I made it was still beyond moist and soft, perfectly balanced with the very sweet, thick and similarly spiced cream cheese icing–I made a big double batch so as to not be inhibited by the generosity of the icing process. My additions of more ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg served to warm the cake up a bit, off setting the natural sweetness of the carrot, along with a little dark rum to bring those spices out even more.
This recipe makes four layers of my beloved and very photogenic six inch cake tins. I love creating a towering three layer cake and having one left over for a very special Halloween cake treat, using two of The Storied Spoons best cake recipes. Stay tuned;)
The result was mighty heavenly, I must say. Worthy of my warm little corner in that Westmoreland Bewleys in the late 90’s, eating Irish Carrot Cake and sipping tea from a miniature Brown Betty teapot.
The recipe is pretty straightforward and, if feeling overwhelmed, do as I do: I make the cakes before bed, leave them to freeze (once cooled) until morning, when I whip up the frosting and have at the construction/decoration. That way, it feels like two small tasks instead of one massive one. Additionally, I filled the layers and iced a crumb coat and froze the cake for 30 minutes. Then, after the final icing, I ran ground walnuts up the sides and got to my very fall-like cake decoration and scene setting…
I grew up in Westchester, NY and visited family in Astoria, Queens often enough to understand that a carrot cake, of course, had a little pipped green and orange carrot, or many, on the cake. I have a personal, regional love for it. However, in these times, it’s nice to break away from tradition and keep the cake decorating simple, and, if possible, elegant.
Regardless of how you decide to decorate, or not, the flavor of this Irish style carrot layer cake will slow down the chimes of time briefly and allow a small sliver of heaven to creep in the Irish style. The Westmoreland Bewleys is now a TGIFriday’s, so….take your vintage charm wherever and however you can.
Spiced Rum Carrot Cake
- Food processor if you want easily grated carrots
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsps baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsps ground ginger
- ½ tsps ground nutmeg
- ½ tsps ground allspice
- ¾ cup canola oil (spray the measuring cup with cooking spray)
- ½ tsp salt
- 4 eggs
- 1½ cups light brown sugar
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1 rind of an orange
- 4 oz. applesauce
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp dark rum
- 3 cups (300 grams) grated carrots, packed (I found I used a little extra since my food processor grated quite finely.)
Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 8 oz. packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1-3 tbsps whole milk
- 3 – 3½ cups confectioners sugar, sifted
- 2 tsps vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsps ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- 12 oz bag of walnuts, ground for decoration
For the Carrot Cake
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Spray two to three 8 inch cake tins or three to four smaller cake tins–I like to cut rounds of parchment paper at the bottom of each tin to ensure easy removal.
- In a bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt). Set aside.
- In a mixer, beat oil, eggs, sugars, applesauce, rum, and vanilla. Add in the carrots, making sure to incorporate into the other ingredients. Add in the grated rind of 1 orange.
- Slowly spoon the dry ingredients into the batter until fully combined. Pour batter evenly between prepared cake pans.
- Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the centers of the cakes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before transferring from pans to wire rack. Once cakes have cooled completely on wire rack, you can pop into the refrigerator for a good hour before frosting, or, if time allows, into the freezer overnight.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- In either a stand mixer or hand held mixer, beat the cream cheese and cubed softened butter until smooth. Add in a tablespoon of the milk, vanilla, and beat until incorporated.
- Slowly add in the confectioners sugar and keep beating until the frosting thickens to the desired consistency. You can add in more of the milk or additional sugar to adjust the thickness.
- When the cakes are out of the refrigerator/freezer, start adding a good layer of filling on top of each layer. For the top and sides, apply a nice thin crumb coat to seal in the cake. Freeze for an additional 30 minutes.
- Cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting or as much as needed to properly frost the cake.
- My decorative style is listed above–read: flowers–but if finely ground walnuts suit yours, cover the sides of the cake and a little bit around the edges of the top. Add in any real or piped or formulated carrot or autumn representation you like. The cake will speak for itself.I miss you, Bewleys.