I had planned some seasonal baking for March - Simnel cake and chocolate nests - but I find that I've made carrot cupcakes instead. Does carrot cake count as Easter baking? I suppose rabbits like carrots, don't they? Hmm. The flavours, spices and colours of carrot cake make me think of autumn but honestly, these cakes are welcome in our house all year round. I almost make these just so I can eat cream cheese icing. There is no better sort in my book - the tangy, creamy sweetness is very moreish. But the cake underneath is very good too - moist and chewy and it keeps well.
For the cakes you will need:
200 g or 7 oz sugar (caster sugar is fine but soft brown sugar adds more flavour)
200 ml or 7 fluid oz vegetable or sunflower oil
200 g or 7 oz plain flour
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 level tsp baking powder
1 level tsp cinammon
200 g or 7 oz grated carrot
100 g or 3 oz sultanas*
and for the icing/frosting:
250 g or 9 oz icing sugar, sifted
100 g or 3 oz cream cheese (nice and cold, straight from the fridge)
30 g or 1 oz butter (room temperature or soft)
To make the cakes:
- Pre-heat the oven to 170°C or 325°F.
- Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.
- Put the sugar, oil and eggs into a bowl and beat to combine. You cold do this by hand but I use a mixer.
- Add the flour, bicarb, baking powder and cinammon and mix well.
- Add the carrots and sultanas and mix again.
- Divide the mixture between your 12 muffin tins and bake for around 20 minutes.
- When they are cooked remove the cakes from the tin and leave them to cool on a wire rack.
and the icing...
- The cakes need to be room temperature before icing, otherwise the icing will warm up and melt and you have something that resembles "melting" more than "icing".
- Combine the icing sugar, cream cheese and butter slowly and carefully to begin with (to avoid an icing sugar dust storm).
- Once they are roughly combined beat well for a good couple of minutes until the icing is nice and fluffy. Again, you can do this by hand but a freestanding or hand held mixer will be a lot easier.
- Divide the icing between the 12 cakes. I am hopeless at piping so I sort of spread and swirl it over the cakes with the blunt side of a knife.
- Dust with a little cinnamon to decorate, or some of those mini sugar paste carrot cupcake toppers like these would look very cute.
If individual cupcakes are not your thing this cake mixture could be divided between two round sandwich tins and baked at the same temperature for 20 - 25 minutes. Then use half the icing to sandwich the cakes together and spread the other half on the top.
Thanks for all your comments about our recent decorating exploits. A couple of people mentioned that a print in a bathroom may get damp, which is a very good point. Although it's a small room it is quite well ventilated with an extractor fan and a large window, so I hope this will not be an issue. I have been putting the paint tester pots to good use this week and have been painting eggs for a little Easter flower display. As soon as the clouds part and we get some sun I will take photos and show you. Enjoy your Sunday everyone!
* By all means use currants or raisins instead, but I always prefer sultanas and their plump juiciness works well here.