You've never had a cake as good as this cereal milk carrot cake. It is a fun twist on your favorite dessert.
Carrot cake has always been one of those controversial cakes for me. I am pretty particular about my carrot cakes and most I've had did not meet my expectations for a good cake. I don't like really large bits of fruit or nuts in my cake. I don't believe that pineapples have a place in carrot cake, and I don't like cutting a slice of cake only to have long strands of shredded carrot pull out.
It's been a while since I've posted a carrot cake anything, and I haven't made an actual carrot cake yet for the blog so I decided now was the time to share one with you. Funnily enough, when I made the decision, I had a reader reach out and ask why I didn't have one on the blog. Well friend, I officially dedicate this one to you.
I really wanted to do something different and give the carrot cake a fun twist. I'm not sure what gave me the idea, but I thought that using cereal as a flavor component would be really fun. It would also give me a chance to use a German buttercream that my friend over at Cloudy Kitchen told me about when I was worried about my ability to smoothly frost a cake without any lines or marks from my offset spatula.
So I decided to take a note from Christina Tosi and use cereal milk in my cake and frosting to make a cereal milk carrot cake. In the cake, the cereal milk takes over for the cinnamon while also giving the cake more depth of flavor. The cake doesn't taste like cereal, but instead it gives it a subtle boost in flavor. In the frosting, however, it is out and proud as a fun, nostalgic twist that has you eating the frosting with a spoon. Which is fine because you will have some extra frosting.
The German buttercream is a pudding based frosting which allows you to really infuse it with a lot of flavors. While you heat up the milk to make the pudding, you add the cereal to steep. I highly recommend using a cheesecloth to get the milk that soaks into the cereal.
You can make do with just a fine mesh strainer, but you will be left with a lot of milk trapped in the cereal which is what has the most flavor. If some cereal pulp ends up in the infused milk, that is perfectly fine and it won't affect the final texture of the frosting.
One major note about this cereal milk carrot cake is that it works best when you give yourself two days to make it. Technically, you can make it in one day, but I prefer to give the pudding for the frosting and overnight chill and put the carrot cake layers in the freezer.
I do this because you don't have to worry about the pudding being too warm and melting your butter and leaving you with soup. Frozen cakes are also easier to level and keeps the cake moist while you wait for the pudding to chill.
It does mean that this cereal milk carrot cake is maybe a little more involved that you are used to, but I definitely believe it is worth it and once you take a bite, you will agree!
Cereal Milk Carrot Cake with German Buttercream
- 1 cup toasted cinnamon cereal see note*
- 1 cup whole milk room temperature
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour plus more for carrots and walnuts
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 2 cups finely shredded carrots chopped
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- Cereal milk frosting
- 2 cups toasted cereal see note*
- 2 ⅓ cups whole milk
- 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks room temperature
- 3 cups unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 8 oz block cream cheese room temperature
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Add the cereal and milk together. Leave to steep for at least 30 minutes as you prep.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans.
- In one bowl add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, and nutmeg together and stir to mix.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and oil together until well combined. Beat in the eggs one at a time until it is well combined and light in color.
- Lightly coat the shredded and chopped carrots and walnuts with flour.
- Strain the cereal from the milk, getting as much of the milk from the cereal as possible.
- Add in one-third of the flour into the oil mixture and mix until just combined. Add half the cereal milk to the oil mixture and mix until just combined. Add another third of the flour, then the remaining milk. Mix both until just combined. Add in the remaining flour and mix until just combined.
- Fold in the carrots and walnuts until just combined.
- Evenly divide the batter between the two baking pans, making sure the batter is spread out to the edges.
- Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Run a knife between the edges of the cake and the cake pan. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely to room temperature. Wrap tightly and freeze while you prepare the frosting.
- When you are ready to frost the cake, remove from the freezer and level the top of the cake by cutting off any dome you may see.
- Add frosting to the bottom layer of the cake, then top with the second layer. Add a thin layer of frosting all over the top and sides of the cake and chill for about 20 minutes. Add more frosting to the top and sides and smooth.
- Decorate the cake using the remaining frosting or flowers however you desire.
- In a medium saucepan, add the cereal and milk. Heat, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan, until the milk is scalding hot and steaming.
- Strain out the cereal, getting as much of the milk from the cereal as possible.
- Return the milk to the saucepan, and turn the heat on low
- Add the sugar, cornstarch, eggs, and yolks to a small bowl and beat well. Slowly drizzle ½ cup of the hot milk into the eggs while continuously beating the eggs.
- Add the egg and milk mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk. Drizzle in the egg mixture while constantly whisking the milk in the saucepan.
- Turn up the heat to medium and constantly whisk the milk mixture until it becomes very thick, but not yet paste-like.
- Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, ensuring the plastic wrap touches directly onto the pudding completely.
- Chill the pudding in the refrigerator for at least two hours, preferably overnight.
- Transfer the pudding to a stand mixer and use the whisk attachment to whip until it is very light. Cut the butter and cream cheese into cubes and add them to the running mixer one cube at a time. Allow the cube to be fully incorporated into the mixture before adding more.
- Add in the salt and whisk in well.