Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

 Moist carrot cupcakes topped with a luscious and tangy cream cheese frosting. 

carrot-cupcakes

I first shared these cupcakes a few years ago on my blog back in 2014, it will be nearly three years since the recipe was first published and I still enjoy these just as much as I did the first time round. The older recipe deserved an update and I’ve decided to share it again with brand new photographs. Carrot cake is one of my favourite cakes and if I had to I would definitely pick carrot cake over a slice of chocolate cake any day!

Easter is nearing closer so these cupcakes I am revisiting today will be the ideal recipe to celebrate the occasion with.

The addition of spices in carrot cake is an absolute must and I can’t even contemplate a carrot cake/cupcake without cinnamon added. Along with a teaspoon of ground cinnamon I also like to add a full teaspoon of mixed spice as well. Mixed spice is another spice popular in many Easter bakes, it’s the British equivalent to pumpkin pie spice and it’s frequently used in many of our traditional recipes such as hot cross buns and teacakes.

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I wish I could tell you that these carrot cupcakes are healthy because they contain vegetables but unfortunately they’re not! Carrots and other vegetables such as courgette/zucchini are a popular addition in many savoury and sweet recipes. They add moistness and I like to put quite a lot of grated carrot into my cupcakes, this is so I can ensure that there’s carrot in each and every bite. There’s nothing more disappointing than taking a bite from a carrot cake/cupcake and not being able to taste any carrot!

To decorate I decided to top the cupcakes with a classic cream cheese frosting. I’ve trialled several different cream cheese frosting recipes and I’ve found this one to be the best as it holds its shape when piped and really compliments the flavour of the cupcakes.

(Makes 12)

Ingredients:

Carrot Cupcakes:

175g light brown sugar

200g self-raising flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon mixed spice

Zest from 1 large orange

2 large free-range eggs, at room temperature

150ml sunflower or vegetable oil

200g (approx. 2 large) carrots, peeled and grated – weigh to ensure this is correct

65g chopped walnuts, plus extra for decoration

Cream Cheese Frosting:

60g unsalted butter, softened

200g icing sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

400g full fat cream cheese, softened – I leave mine out at room temperature for an hour to soften

Method:

1.  To make the cupcakes: Preheat your oven 160 degrees Fan / 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4 and line a 12-hole cupcake or muffin tin with paper cases. In a large mixing bowl stir together the sugar, flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and the orange zest.

2. In another smaller bowl or jug whisk together the eggs and oil until incorporated. Add the wet ingredients to the dry along with the grated carrot and walnuts and stir until completely combined. Evenly divide the batter between the paper cases. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean without any uncooked batter remaining – mine took the full amount of time to bake. Leave the cupcakes to cool in the tin for a few minutes then transport them to a wire rack and allow to cool to room temperature.

3. To make the frosting: Cream the softened butter in a stand mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes to soften. Now add the sifted icing sugar and vanilla and starting on a low speed mix to combine. Continue to cream for 5 minutes or until really pale in colour – stop the mixer halfway through to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

4. Once creamed add the softened cream cheese. Turn the mixer up and beat on high speed for approximately 2-3 minutes or until the frosting is creamy, thick and smooth.

5. Decorate the cupcakes as desired by piping or spreading the frosting onto each cupcake. Further decoration is optional, I chose to top each cupcake with extra chopped walnuts and a carrot made from royal icing. The carrot decorations can be purchased from most major supermarkets or online but just be sure to decorate just prior to serving. Cupcakes will keep stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Recipe Notes:

  • To adapt the recipe into cup measurements please see my conversion tables page for help.
  • You can adjust the amount of spice or play around by adding different spices to these cupcakes. If you can’t find mixed spice where you live you can substitute it with pumpkin pie spice or alternatively use a different combination of spices.
  • Adding walnuts to the batter is optional. If you want you can leave them out entirely or swap them for pecans, raisins or desiccated/shredded coconut.
  • Leave the cream cheese out at room temperature for an hour prior to making the frosting. The cream cheese needs to be soft to ensure the frosting is smooth and all the ingredients incorporate completely.
  • Don’t add any additional icing sugar to the frosting as this will make your cream cheese frosting too runny and you won’t be able to pipe it. To get perfect cream cheese frosting my best tip is to measure your ingredients accurately using the metric system for the perfect results every time.
  • The way you choose to decorate these cupcakes is totally up to you. When I shared the recipe the first time round instead of decorating the cupcakes with chopped walnuts as I did this time I sprinkled the tops with coconut and dusted a few of the cupcakes with cinnamon.

carrot-cake-cupcakes-recipe

Enjoy!

jess

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Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot layer cake decorated with the ultimate fluffy cream cheese frosting. A cake recipe perfect for any occasion! 

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Admittedly, I have many favourite recipes. Carrot cake is one of my most beloved desserts. It’s moist, light, fluffy and each slice goes down a treat.

What I love most of all is how easy and simple this carrot cake recipe is to prepare. I also really adore the combination of spices, warming ground cinnamon, ginger and cloves work wonderfully, giving this cake its gorgeous unique flavour.

I think we can all agree that no other frosting suits carrot cake like a classic cream cheese frosting. So that’s what I went for to decorate my cake. Cream cheese frosting is usually my nemesis, as hard as I try I always seem to mess it up. Most of the time ending up with a runny and loose frosting with lumps of butter in! But I finally found a great cream cheese frosting, which has become my new go-to recipe! It’s ultra creamy and is made by simply whisking together cream cheese and mascarpone with icing sugar, vanilla and double cream. It turns out perfect each time.

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This recipe makes a big cake, which will serve about 10-12. If preferred, you could bake a batch of 24 cupcakes instead. I haven’t tried this yet, but baking time will differ.

This recipe is exactly how me and my taste testers like carrot cake. Plain and simple, without too many nuts in the cake, or any raisins or dried fruit added. It’s a definite favourite, and I cannot wait to make it again soon! Plus, we found the cake got better with age (I preferred the taste on day 2 and day 3), the flavour getting even stronger and the frosting stayed super creamy and fluffy.

I hope you love baking and eating this cake as much as we did!

Ingredients:

Cake –

450g (1 pound) carrots, finely grated

3 large free-range eggs, at room temperature

200g (1 cup) caster sugar

200g (1 packed cup) light brown sugar

355ml (1 1/2 cups) vegetable oil (or other flavourless oil such as canola)

80ml (1/3 cup) buttermilk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

240g (2 cups) plain flour (all-purpose)

150g (1 cup) wholemeal flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Cream Cheese Frosting –

250g (8.8 ounces) full-fat cream cheese, softened

250g (8.8 ounces) mascarpone, softened

150g icing sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

225ml double cream, chilled

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (160 Fan), 350 degrees. Line two 9 inch round cake tins with a circle of parchment paper in the bottom of each. Grease the sides of each tin with butter. Set to one side.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the grated carrot, eggs, sugars, oil, buttermilk and vanilla.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt and spices until combined.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and fold until fully incorporated.
  5. Equally divide the cake batter between the cake tins. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean of any uncooked batter – cooking time will depend on your oven, so if in doubt, carry on baking the cake until the cake tester comes out clean. 
  6. Once the cakes are fully baked, allow to cool completely in the tins, then remove.
  7. For the frosting, in a large mixing bowl whisk the softened cream cheese and mascarpone until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and sifted icing sugar and whisk until combined. Now add the double cream bit by bit, and whisk the mixture until it has thickened – this will take approx. 1-2 minutes.
  8. To decorate, take one cake half and spread with a layer of the frosting. Place the second cake layer on top and sandwich the two halves together. Crumb coat the cake – this is done by using an off set palette knife to spread a very thin layer of the frosting around the cake. Chill the cake at this point for at least 30 minutes to allow the first layer of frosting to harden.
  9. Now using the remaining frosting, decorate and ice the cake. Finish decorating the cake with chopped pecans or walnuts, or your favourite sprinkles or sweets.
  10. Chill the cake until ready to serve. Then slice up and enjoy!

Carrot Cake recipe adapted very slightly from Faux Martha Frosting inspired by All Recipes UK 

Recipe Notes:

  • You can bake the cake, and wrap it in cling film and store for 2 days before you make the frosting and decorate it.
  • Keep the frosted cake covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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Enjoy!

jess

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