carrot and pecan cake

This week, we bring you our 59th bake from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person. This latest recipe from the Layer Cakes and Fancy Desserts chapter is the much-anticipated Carrot and Pecan Cake. We have now made Claire’s Cream Cheese Frosting for three bakes in a row; this time, it was the extra special Brown Butter variation.

Lauren’s Take

I LOVE CARROT CAKE. Ever since I was a kid and my aunt used to make this carrot cake at family dinners, carrot cake has sparked a sense of joy in me. Honestly, I think it might just be that I love cheese and carrot cake has cream cheese frosting typically but hey… nothing wrong with that. I have been looking forward to making this cake and have had to continuously tell myself that I was not allowed to skip ahead and make it multiple times. So when the time finally came, I made it as soon as I could. Unlike most of these bakes where I have a piece or a slice and then give most of it away, I kept this entire cake for myself AND I HAVE NO REGRETS.

My overall thoughts/realizations:

-I used walnuts instead of pecans, but I don’t think you can go wrong either way. Breaking down some of them into bigger chunks allows for a nice crunch in your cake

-Buy pre-shredded carrots and you will be happy you did

-Carrot cake batter is often a lot wetter than other cake batter. Do not let this worry you

-The mix of spices and fresh ginger in this cake smelt SO GOOD coming out of the oven

-Not only is cream cheese frosting amazing on its own, but BROWN BUTTER CREAM CHEESE FROSTING IS THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD. I genuinely could eat a whole case of it on its own, but it pairs so, so well with this carrot cake, and they balance each other out




As you can probably tell, I loved this cake and it lived up to the expectations I had for it. The cake is super moist and fluffy and has just the right balance of spices, but this frosting really is the star of the show. I would say that everyone else I shared it with loved it but….you’ll just have to take my word for it since I didn’t have any other taste testers this week 😉 Make this cake and you will not be sorry (but who is ever sorry after making cake really?). 6 STARS!!!


Julia’s Take

While there are a very few, if any, types of cakes I would ever turn away, I have never been the world’s biggest carrot cake fan. That said, I have heard nothing but rave reviews about Claire’s recipe since buying the book, and so I was very excited to give it a try and see what all of the hype was about.

When I say it met and exceeded all expectations, I mean it. This cake has the most perfect balance of flavours: warm spices like cinnamon and clove, the freshness of the grated carrot and lemon zest, the punch of the freshly grated ginger, and the earthy, toastiness of the roasted pecans. It is a VERY wet batter, but sets beautifully after baking and cooling and leaves you with a super moist, delicious cake.

I made my cakes the night before, and was a little nervous about putting them in the fridge because, even after cooling, they were SO soft and delicate. Luckily, all went smoothly. I took the cakes out of the fridge the next morning and got started on my Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting and holyyyyyy cow, this is a game-changer of a recipe. I have a new affinity for brown butter anything thanks to Claire, but putting it in cream cheese frosting is just a whole other level of genius. It almost tastes like toffee, and makes for the absolute dreamiest pairing with the carrot cake. I will never make another cream cheese frosting ever again.

Even taste testers of mine who are not normally carrot cake people couldn’t help but be impressed and fall in love with this cake. Make it immediately. 5 very enthusiastic stars from this baker!

Next week, we are bringing the summer vibes with Claire’s Strawberry Cornmeal Layer Cake. See you then!




flourless chocolate wave cake

Welcome back friends! This week is our 12th bake from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person as we continue to make our way through the Loaf Cakes and Single Layer Cakes chapter of the book. This section has been packed full of incredible and unique flavours and textures, and this week’s Flourless Chocolate Wave Cake was yet another delicious bake to add to that list!

Lauren’s Take

Hello hello! We’ve reached our dirty dozen bake and we’ve slid into it with the Flourless Chocolate Wave Cake! I saw many examples and heard praise of this cake before making it, so it was one I was looking forward to attempting to bake, especially with the challenge of making something without flour. However, as someone who isn’t a very big fan of chocolate desserts, I wasn’t too too excited about eating this week’s cake. I find a cake that is just chocolate is too heavy and I’m left searching for other flavours that aren’t there.

Making this cake was fun since it introduced some new and technical steps that we haven’t had to do too much in the previous bakes. You need a dece amount of chocolate (10 ounces) and you melt it over a double broiler with some rum (delish) and water. Once that has cooled, you add some egg yolks and almond flour. I was so glad this recipe called for almond flour ‘cause I have a massive bag from Costco that I bought during my macaron making phase that has been sitting dormant for many moons.

You then make a meringue by beating egg whites and sugar; now here is where I always psych myself out…is this a stiff peak? What is truly the difference between glossy and matte? Does this seem under-whipped? Did I just over-whip? Making meringues for me is like having a tedious and insecure mental monologue where I keep doubting. In this case, I do think I over-whipped the egg whites; when I went to fold in (insert Schitt’s Creek meme here) the meringue, it wasn’t incorporating very well with the chocolate mixture and was leaving large globs throughout. I ended up leaving quite a few streaks because I didn’t want to over-mix.

You then top the cake with sugar and let it bake! Watching this cake bake was potentially more fun than eating it. The cake gets so much height on the top layer with the sugar and looks like a little mushroom top floating above the rest of the cake. Once the cake is done baking and you leave it to cool, it starts to fall and create all these pits and peaks throughout the cake which look so gorgeous.

This cake is, in a word, FUDGE-Y. To me, it tasted as if a brownie and a chocolate pudding had a love child. It is airy, moist, delicate, and has a super soft and interesting texture. And the top sugar layer adds a really fun and needed crunch to the cake. As I mentioned at the beginning, my classic qualm with chocolate desserts was present with this cake too—I just found that it was too much chocolate and nothing to break it up, but I do give mad props for the texture. I shared this cake with some chocolate lovers though who did not have the same concerns as me. With all that said, I’d give this cake a solid 4 stars—a delicious and rich chocolate cake that’s gluten-free friendly is a win.

Julia’s Take

I’d been really looking forward to making this cake for a while for a few different reasons: I LOVE chocolate; I’d seen so many of our fellow Dessert People make this one already and everyone had raved about it; and our other sister, who lives in the same city as me, is gluten intolerant and I was happy to finally have a bake that I could share with her!

For those that don’t already know, I teach Language & Communications courses at a college here in Ontario, and this past week was exam week for my students. That means hundreds of tests and final research reports coming my way, and sitting in front of my computer screen for hours reading through work (no multiple choice or scantron sheets for this girl!). It was so nice to get to bust out of my marking bubble, slow down for a beat, and enjoy the process of making this cake.

The ingredient list was pretty simple for this bake compared to some of the others we’ve made so far: just some good quality chocolate, salt, sugar, oil, lots of eggs, and a little almond flour. Claire also calls for some rum or amaretto which gets added in to the melted chocolate. I used amaretto in mine, which made for a really nice flavour. This bake was similar to last week’s in the sense that the batter comes together in a few different steps: melting down the chocolate, whisking in egg yolks, flour, and other ingredients, then making the meringue and slowly folding that in. Watching egg whites and sugar come together to create something smooth, beautifully glossy, and magically stiff yet soft has to be one of the great simple pleasures in life. Anyone else share this sentiment? Just me? This is what grading hundreds of papers can do to a person…

The other thing that made this cake similar to last week’s was that it gets quite a bit of height while it’s baking, but then gradually sinks down after it comes out of the oven, which is so satisfying to watch. Because of the sugar that gets sprinkled on top of the cake before it bakes, you also get this crackly, crunchy top which adds some delicious, much-needed texture and also creates the “wave” affect that gives this recipe its name.

The taste and texture of this cake was SO delicious. The rich, fudgy flavour of the semisweet chocolate absolutely shines through, so if you’re a chocolate lover like me, you won’t be disappointed. This recipe is basically a variation on a chocolate soufflé; considering how rich it is, it’s also insanely airy and soft which just brings it up to a whole new level and makes it distinct from your average chocolate cake. My taste-testers loved it as much as I did. This is another 5-star bake for me!

Next week, we’re taking a slight deviation to bake up something extra special. Be sure to check back on Sunday!

ricotta cake with kumquat marmalade

We’re back with our 11th bake from Dessert Person, which is Claire’s Ricotta Cake with Kumquat Marmalade. We have only a handful of recipes left in the Loaf Cakes and Single Layer Cakes section of the book; we can’t believe how delicious everything has been and are so excited to start tackling Pies and Tarts as we head into summer!

Lauren’s Take

Whenever someone asks me what was favourite dessert is, I always say cheesecake without hesitation. I mean, what’s not to love about cheesecake—creamy, sweet, slightly savoury and usually served with fruit? Sign me up any day. What I was not anticipating was that ricotta cake, the lesser known and popular sister of the cheesecake, would enter into my life and shake up my long-term relationship with cheesecake. I cannot stop talking about my love for this cake and I promise if you make it, you will not be disappointed.

Once again, it is not a super complicated bake. You start off by making the ricotta mixture in a food processor, combining the ricotta, heavy cream, sugar and lemon zest into a delicious batter. You then make a meringue with egg whites and gently fold it in to make a super light and delish batter. The cake bakes for about 40 minutes; I think I took my cake out too early because it didn’t really become golden brown, but it still baked all the way through, so don’t fret if you don’t get the colour you expect.

While the cake is cooling, you make the topping which is a marmalade. Claire makes hers with kumquats, but says you can use any seasonal fruit. I could not find kumquats ANYWHERE despite calling numerous grocery stores and farms. So I decided to use gooseberries because I had never tried them and they looked pretty similar to what I saw in the Dessert Person photo. Gooseberries have THE MOST tiny seeds I have ever seen and despite taking 40 minutes to try and remove them all, many remained (but didn’t seem to affect the taste or texture so I wouldn’t waste your time). You reduce the fruit with some water, sugar and vanilla until it reaches a “maple syrup consistency.” I was endlessly confused by this—I kept taking my maple syrup out of the fridge to get a better idea what the consistency should be because I couldn’t tell if the mixture was thickening. I looked online and saw that marmalade should cook to about 217 degrees Fahrenheit so once it got there I took it off the stove, still looking extremely loose, and hoped for the best. I left it overnight and it thickened up BEAUTIFULLY and tasted amazing.

This cake is everything and so much more. I loved every bite. I dropped the cake off to a friend and the results were unanimous—this cake is unreal and should get an award for being so perfect. This might be my new favourite dessert and I am not ashamed about it. Make this and you will not be disappointed…but maybe don’t share it because you’ll wish you had more 😉. 5 stars for sure.

Julia’s Take

Welcome back friends! I am still not totally over the joyful experience that was making and eating this week’s cake. It was SO. GOOD. For me, these last couple of weeks have been so much fun because we’ve upgraded from the really simple, basically one-step loaf-style bakes from the earlier half of this section of the book, but we haven’t moved into the more complex, multi-day, panic-inducing bakes that are yet to come. These more recent single-layer cakes, and the ones that we’ll be tackling over the next few weeks, have given me a chance to bake recipes that are slightly more involved in terms of process, and super unique and delicious in result, without causing me too much anxiety!

The first step in making this cake was to try and track down kumquats. I had heard of kumquats before but wasn’t entirely sure what they looked or tasted like. Living in a smaller-sized city in northern Ontario, I was pretty certain I would never get my hands on an ingredient like this. While we do have several higher-end grocery stores that will often carry speciality or international ingredients, I felt like between citrus season coming to an end and the rarity of something like kumquats in Ontario in general, I’d have to resign myself to coming up with a really good substitute for the marmalade topping.

But I am not a resign yourself kind of girl! After checking several of the grocery stores in town, I decided to call around to a few produce wholesalers. Most of them let me know that they make almost-daily trips to produce markets in the Toronto area to bring up stock and that they’re always happy to bring up speciality items when requested (will be keeping this in mind when we need to bake with quince…). After a few phone conversations on a Monday, I had a call back that Thursday letting me know there was a case of kumquats waiting for me! (No way you’re reading this, but shout-out to Shane from TCM Produce!). I never thought I’d get so excited about a case of citrus.

For anyone like me who’s never had a kumquat before, they are the coolest little things! They look and taste like a mini, more oval-shaped, and slightly more tart version of a tangerine. You eat them with the skin on, and they make the most incredible marmalade! I made this part of the recipe the day before—seeding and halving the kumquats and cooking them down with sugar, vanilla bean, lemon juice, and some water—and I was really glad I did because the marmalade became much thicker and more delicious the longer it sat. I was also so glad that I had a full case; the amounts Claire calls for in the book are surprisingly minimal, and you will definitely want extra of this magical golden sauce (is marmalade a sauce?). I’ve clearly been a big fan of all the accompanying sauces so far, and you can now consider me a big fan of kumquats too!

When it came to making the ricotta cake, the process was really satisfying. You start by blending most of the ingredients in a food processer—not totally sure why Claire called for this particular piece of equipment, because I think you could just as easily mix everything together in a stand mixer or even a blender. Once you have your batter, which is so smooth and luxurious, I used my stand mixer to whip the egg whites to stiff peaks, and then those get gently folded in to the batter (anyone else immediately think of David and Moira Rose from Schitt’s Creek every time you see the words “fold in” ?!). My cake needed a slightly longer bake time than what Claire called for, but came out with a nice deep golden brown colour. It was also SO cool to see the centre of the cake slowly deflate after it came out of the oven; this created a beautiful sort of crown shape with a well in the middle for the marmalade to sit in.

Because it’s called a ricotta cake, I was expecting a cheesecake-like taste and texture; it some ways, this cake is similar to a traditional cheesecake, but it’s also something completely different. The addition of some flour, and the texture of the ricotta itself, make this cake much less dense and sweet than a regular cheesecake, which I personally loved. It was light, fluffy, smooth, had the perfect hint of lemon, and made for the most amazing pairing with the kumquat marmalade. I will definitely be making this cake again—it’s a 5-star bake for me!

Next week: Flourless Chocolate Wave Cake. We’ve seen A LOT of people in our Instagram community make this one, and we’re so excited to give it a try! If you don’t follow along with us there already, check us out @sistersandsaffitz.