Cake Easter Spring

Vertical Layer Carrot Cake

Vertical Layer Carrot Cake with vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream by Izy Hossack

Vertically layered cakes (sometimes called vertical stripe cakes) are SO COOL. I’ve made them a few times now and every time I find them way easier than making a usual layer cake since you don’t really need a crumb-coat step. Plus they look amazing!

They look like some serious magical effort has gone into them, but really the whole thing is basically just a short, very wide roll cake sat upright.

Vertical Layer Carrot Cake with vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream by Izy Hossack

I’ve made vanilla and chocolate versions in the past but I also wanted to try out a different flavour. I made this vertically layered carrot cake a last year for my family for our Easter dessert (gotta have carrot cake at Easter) and we all loved it.

A slice of Vertical Layer Carrot Cake with vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream by Izy Hossack
Holding a slice of Vertical Layer Carrot Cake with vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream by Izy Hossack

I didn’t get round to posting the recipe so I remade it this year for Mother’s day. I also tweaked the recipe slightly to make it bit easier. I had made a carrot puree before and folded that into the batter which worked really well. However, that’s a whole other annoying step to add to cake baking (no one really wants to have to boil and puree carrots, do they?) so I tried it out with very finely grated carrot and it worked perfectly. So in the end, it was better that I remade it anyway 🙂

Vertical Layer Carrot Cake with vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream by Izy Hossack

I kept the filling simple – whipped cream that had a bit of cream cheese mixed in. No sugar in the filling at all since this is a ‘fatless’ sponge cake (i.e. very sweet) with a rich Swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC) on the outside. I attempted to make a cream cheese SMBC but it split as soon as I added the cream cheese soooo that was a lesson learnt! Instead there’s a simple vanilla SMBC on the outside which tastes like a cloudy, buttery marshmallow. There’s a slight tang from the filling too so you won’t miss that classic cream cheese frosting flavour.

How to make a vertically striped cake by Izy Hossack
How to make a vertically striped cake by Izy Hossack
How to make a vertically striped cake by Izy Hossack
How to make a vertically striped cake by Izy Hossack

I’ve included this grid of images of the assembly process here as it’s a little complicated to explain but actually very easy to do. Imagine that you have one very long, narrow strip of cake that you’re rolling up into a fat coil. That’s essentially how this cake is made (but out of 4 shorter, narrow cake strips rolled up end to end).

Other spring time cakes:
Lemon Zucchini Layer Cake with Earl Grey Frosting
– Strawberry, Lemon & Elderflower Cake
– Rhubarb & Almond Cake

Vertical Layer Carrot Cake

Vertical Layer Carrot Cake

Yield: serves 8
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 6 eggs (medium if you're in the UK, large if you're in the US)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 220g (2 2/3 cups) finely grated carrot
  • 180g (1 1/2 cups) plain white (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • icing sugar (powdered sugar), for dusting

For the Swiss meringue buttercream:

  • 2 egg whites (medium if you're in the UK, large if you're in the US)
  • 110g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 160g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, very soft, cubed
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling:

  • 250 ml (1 cup) double cream (heavy cream)
  • 1/3 cup cream cheese

Instructions

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan / 350°F). Line two 23 x 33 cm (9 x 13-inch) rimmed baking trays with baking paper. Grease underneath and on top of the baking paper with a bit of vegetable oil.
  2. Place the eggs into a large bowl and use electric beaters to whisk, gradually streaming in the sugar a bit at a time, then continuing to whisk until foamy, pale and thick. You can also do this in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment.
  3. Add the grated carrot, flour, cinnamon ,ginger, nutmeg, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Gently fold together until combined.
  4. Divide the batter between the two prepared baking trays, spreading the batter out into an even layer over the whole tray.
  5. Bake for 12-17 minutes until the cakes are dark on top and spring back when poked.
  6. Remove the cakes from the oven, flip each one out onto a clean tea towel dusted with icing sugar (powdered sugar). Remove the baking paper, trim off the very edges of the cakes (a pair of scissors is good here. You can eat the scraps!) and dust the cake with more powdered sugar. Starting at the short edge, roll the cake up (along with the tea towel) into a tight log - it should look as though the tea towel is forming the filling of a Swiss roll cake, this stops the cake sticking together as it cools. Leave to cool completely.

Start on the Swiss meringue buttercream about an hour before you're ready to assemble the whole cake:

  1. Place the egg whites and sugar in a large, heatproof bowl. Set over a small pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl isn't touching the water, and stir often. We want the sugar to dissolve and the whole mixture to warm up. Keep stirring until the mixture measures 71°C (160°F) on a kitchen thermometer.
  2. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk until very thick, pale and completely cooled to room temperature (you can do this in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or you can do this with handheld electric beaters).
  3. Once completely cool you can start adding the butter. It's important you do this very gradually and that the butter is soft so that the mixture can emulsify properly.
  4. With the mixer running on a medium speed, add the butter one or two cubes at a time, allowing them to become completely mixed in before adding a couple more butter cubes. Continue like this until all the butter has been added. It may look like the mixture is starting to curdle before you've added all the butter but this is normal, just keep whipping (see notes below for troubleshooting)
  5. Mix in the salt and vanilla then set this SMBC aside at room temperature while you make the filling...

Make the filling:

  1. Place the heavy cream in a large bowl. Whip with a whisk until the cream is starting to thicken - it should be fluffy but should still be able to plop off of a spoon (i.e. don't overwhip it! If it starts to separate because you've whisked it too much, you can stir a bit more double cream in and that should help bring it back).
  2. Beat the cream cheese in a separate small bowl, to soften it up. Stir in a bit of the whipped cream to loosen, then add it all to the large bowl of whipped cream and stir through gently. Don't overmix.

Assemble (see grid of images above recipe to aid):

  1. Carefully unroll your cooled cakes from their tea towels and re-roll. Cut each log in half so you have four logs about 4 inches long.
  2. Unroll one of the logs very gently and spread 1/4 of the whipped cream over the surface of it. Re-roll the same way and stand the rolled log up like a tree trunk.
  3. Unroll a second log of cake, spread on 1/4 of the whipped cream. Starting at the exposed edge of the 'tree trunk', wrap this second strip of cake around it.
  4. Repeat with the next two cake logs so you end up with a very fat, short roll cake sat upright.
  5. If your cakes crack/break in the process of doing this, don't worry about it. Just patch it back together with some filling and you really won't notice it!
  6. Place onto a cake stand and frost the top with 1/3 of the SMBC using an offset spatula to smooth it out to the edges. Frost the sides with the remaining SMBC, smoothing out with an offset spatula.
  7. Chill until ready to serve.

Notes

  • If the SMBC looks like it is curdling, place the bowl into the fridge to chill the butter for a few minutes. Remove from the fridge and whip again to re-emulsify.

Have you made this recipe?
I’d love to see how it went! Tag me on instagram @izyhossack and hashtag it #topwithcinnamon so I can have a look & reshare in my stories!

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11 Comments

  • Reply Charlotte April 8, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    Thanks for the assembly shots. It was tricky to visualise but now it seems simple! (…not that my attempt would be anywhere as good-looking 😋)

    • Reply Izy April 8, 2019 at 5:06 pm

      Yeah it’s a hard one to explain but quite simple once you get the gist of it!! Hahah I usually hate making layer cakes because mine never look *that* great but I think my vertically layered ones always look WAY better!!

  • Reply jenna April 8, 2019 at 10:56 pm

    Yum – that cake looks sooo good (and I love how it is vertical layers!). I will need to try this out this summer!
    -Jenna ♥

    • Reply Izy April 15, 2019 at 2:06 pm

      Thanks, Jenna! They always look so amazing, I love these cakes 🙂

  • Reply Mary April 10, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    I think the vertical layers would be nicer to eat as you would get plenty of filling with the cake. I always seem to have cake with no filling when I have conventional layers. Maybe I just eat the creamy bits and forget to eat the cake along with it!!! Looking forward to making this. Thankyou for the inspiration. 🙂

    • Reply Izy April 15, 2019 at 2:07 pm

      Yesss that’s also a great thing about them! And because it’s a whipped cream filling it’s not too sweet as well so it’s not overwhelming! Glad you like it!

  • Reply Jess April 11, 2019 at 11:08 pm

    In all of my (short) baking years, I have never seen a cake like this!! Wow, it’s so beautiful. I HAVE to try this! Thanks for the recipe, pinned!

    • Reply Izy April 15, 2019 at 2:07 pm

      Thanks, Jess! They’re so cool, glad you think so too. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  • Reply I LOVE LISTS April 12, 2019 at 10:22 am

    […] This vertical  layer carrot cake blows my mind. […]

  • Reply Kathy April 16, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    I’m going to attempt this on Friday for guests on Saturday- do you think it will survive overnight in the fridge? X

    • Reply Izy April 17, 2019 at 8:31 am

      Yes it will! Just don’t decorate it with flowers/mini eggs (if using) until the day of serving 🙂

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