Everyone loves a bit of carrot cake, right? I made up a batch of these to take with me to our family Mother’s Day celebrations on Sunday. They were quick and relatively easy to prepare and you can switch up the flavours to suit your own tastes. Using oil instead of butter results in a lovely light and fluffy cake that stays moist even a couple of days after baking. Paired with some tangy, sweet cream cheese frosting these little cakes are a joy to savour.
I used apple, brown sugar and raisins for sweetness and oil and egg to bind the batter. I decided to go with the slightly ‘unhealthy’ version of this recipe because they were a treat but to make them a little healthier you could substitute some of the oil with applesauce, replace the white flour with whole wheat pastry flour (and baking powder and soda to help it rise), the sugar with, say, maple syrup, honey or agave nectar and even replace the eggs with a vegan alternative like ground chia seeds soaked in a couple of tablespoons of water. You could, of course, make this into a full-sized cake if you prefer, at a guess I’d say you’ll need to double or possibly even triple the cooking time. Probably the most time-consuming aspect of this recipe is grating up the apple and carrots, you can save time (and your fingers) by using the grater attachment on your food processor (if you have one).
One last point, when it came time to ice the cakes I was, let’s just say, slightly disorganised but faced with certain disaster (time poor, shops closed, Mother’s Day deadline looming) I actually learnt a couple of really useful cooking secrets. The first mistake I made was not getting the butter out of the fridge ahead of time and the second was thinking we had ‘plenty’ of icing sugar in the cupboard when in fact we had none. Thankfully, simple solutions to both problems were but a mouse click away: To bring butter to room temperature quickly simply cut the butter into small cubes and roll them out between two pieces of wax proof paper. It might take a bit of work to begin with but the butter will become more malleable with each roll. To replace icing sugar cup for cup simply blend up 1 cup of caster sugar with a teaspoon of corn flour. Both worked remarkably well for me and I had blended up a batch of delicious icing in next to no time.
- 2 cups of self-raising cake flour
- 2 teaspoons of mixed spice (or cinnamon, if you prefer)
- a pinch of salt
- 4 large eggs
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup oil
- 2 cups grated carrot
- 1 cup grated apple
- ½ cup walnuts, crushed
- 1 cup sultanas
- Cream cheese frosting:
- 250g cream cheese - room temperature
- 230 grams of butter - room temperature
- 1 cup of icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste (or vanilla essence)
- Heat fan-forced oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
- Sift together the flour, salt and mixed spice in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, oil and sugar.
- Add flour mix to the egg mix and stir to combine.
- Add carrot, apple, sultanas and walnuts and stir until everything is combined.
- Divide the mix between paper cups and pop in the oven for 20 minutes. The cakes are cooked when a skewer or toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Prepare the frosting:
- Using a stand mixer whip together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.
- With the mixer still running gradually add the icing sugar.
- Add the vanilla bean paste and whip til the mixture is fluffy and smooth.
- Pipe on to cupcakes once they have cooled.