Carrot Cupcakes with Lemon-Orange Frosting

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I first tried making these moreish little cakes about a month ago. They’re super moist (‘dejligt svampede ‘, as my Danish colleague said, which translates roughly into ‘nice and mushy’ – which appeared to be a good thing).

(Side note: I’ve stopped freaking out about the word moist – am I alone in that? Most people get really bummed out at the mention of the word, but I say we take it back, because it’s so useful when describing cake. I mean, what alternatives are there, really, to describe cake that isn’t dry? ‘Wet’ certainly won’t do. Neither will ‘damp’. ‘Squishy’? I really don’t think so. I say we reclaim ‘moist’, at the very least for baking purposes. End of side note.)

Aaanyways, these are super moist, super quick to make, and super easy to eat. And who doesn’t love carrot cake? I really don’t know.

The first time I made them it was without frosting, as I’m really not a fan of cream cheese frosting, and I personally think that carrot cake is so delicious on its own that it really doesn’t need any frosting to begin with. I know that to many this is a slightly controversial statement, and I know a lot of people go mad for cream cheese frosting, but… meh! I don’t know, it just doesn’t do anything for me. And neither does buttercream frosting, I find it a bit off-putting and not all that interesting-tasting… BUT – on this particular Sunday, feeling adventurous, I decided to google ‘alternatives to cream cheese frosting’, and came upon an orange frosting that uses a little bit of butter, but not enough to be off-putting to me (don’t get me wrong, I LOVE butter in cake, and on fresh bread or toast, but I just can’t see the appeal when it’s mixed into sugar and milk and vanilla, in an unbaked form…). While I really liked the orange frosting, I still didn’t find it tangy enough, so I added some fresh lemon juice, and lo and behold, it turned into a lemon-orange frosting delight! At least I think so 🙂 And my colleagues seemed to really enjoy them when I brought them into work! Though they do tend to be rather forgiving whatever type of (more or less successfully) baked good I bring in, they were especially vocal about these ones. I’ll test the few ones that are left on my friends later today.

I also decided to forego the ginger in the original recipe this time around, and upped the cinnamon content slightly – although I love ginger, I prefer my carrot cake to be a little more on the cinnamon-nutmeg side 🙂 I also swapped part of the sugar for brown sugar, I’m not sure whether I’ll do this next time, but it does add a bit of ‘oomph’. And finally, while I personally don’t think they need any frosting,
it doesn’t hurt, and this one is dreamy, adds a lovely tang and off-sets the spices in the cake nicely. If you are a die-hard fan of cream cheese frosting, I’m 100% sure the original maple cream cheese frosting from smitten kitchen will more than do the job! And if you’re into something in between a thick glaze and a buttercream frosting with a nice zing of lemon juice and orange zest, then do give this one a go 🙂

Carrot Cupcakes with Lemon-Orange Frosting
Adapted slightly from smittenkitchen

  • 250 g (2 cups) flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 300 g (1 1/2 cups) sugar
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) brown sugar
  • 300 ml (1 1/4 cup) olive oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups finely grated carrots
  • (optional: 100 g/1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts)

Line your cupcake pans with cupcake liners, and preheat your oven to 175°C/350°F.

Peel and finely grate your carrots, and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda. Stir the mixture into the wet ingredients, followed by the grated carrots (and nuts, if using). Scoop the batter into the muffin tins, filling the cupcake liners about 3/4.

Bake them for about 15-20 minutes, until a tooth pick comes out clean. These are almost impossible to over-bake, but you don’t want them to burn on top. I do, however, find that it’s best to err on the side of 20 minutes, to make sure the cakes aren’t too wet at the bottom (they really are extremely moist). It’s also a good idea to turn your pan around halfway through baking, to ensure the cupcakes rise evenly, and not more on one side than the other.

Let cool for five minutes in the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting.

Lemon-Orange Frosting
Adapted from be-ro

  • 50 g (2 ounces) butter, melted
  • zest of half an orange
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1-2 tbsp (15-30 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
  • 225 g icing sugar

Beat together the melted butter, orange and lemon juice, orange zest and icing sugar, beating for a good 5 minutes or so, until the mixture becomes light and airy, and has a spreadable consistency. Set aside until the cupcakes have cooled completely, then add little dollops to each cake, spreading it out with a knife.

Makes 24-28 little cupcakes, depending on the size of your cupcake liners.

 

 

Havuçlu Kek (Turkish Carrot Cake)

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This Sunday I made two different carrot cakes, 1) because I was curious to try out this recipe, and 2) because I’d grated too many carrots for the one I had initially decided to make, which was already in the oven, and so it seemed meant to be that I should bake this particular cake right this instant.

Please excuse the lack of pictures – I managed to gobble up all of the cake but for one little tinfoil-wrapped piece, which I hurriedly took a picture of before eating it for breakfast a few days ago. This is different to any carrot cake I’ve tried, more a cinnamon-spice cake really, than a classic carrot cake. It’s super moist but somehow less ‘wet’ than most, containing about half the amount of grated carrots than other carrot cakes, sweet and subtle and perfectly studded with roughly chopped walnuts. It’s my favourite carrot cake to date, and that’s saying a lot, as it’s hard to go wrong with any carrot cake, in my opinion. While I don’t think any carrot cake really needs frosting to begin with (I know that this may come as a shock to most of the die-hard classic cream cheese frosting fans out there, but I am not one of them!), this cake is somehow even more unassuming than other carrot cakes, and is just perfect as is – no muss, no fuss, and no frosting. Just perfectly moist cake with cinnamon and walnuts, and a hint of grated carrot. I even ended up bringing all of the carrot cupcakes with lemon-orange frosting I’d just made to work with me the next day to give to my colleagues, although they were perfectly delicious, because I only want to eat this one right now. It also seems completely perfect for this time of year, red and yellow leaves on the trees and ground, and brisk autumn winds and all 🙂 the same way spiced cider and big, woolly scarves do.

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Long story short, I’ll certainly be making this again 🙂 and most probably not just in autumn.

Havuçlu kek (Turkish carrot cake)
Adapted slightly from Hayriye’s Turkish Food and Recipes

  • 3 eggs
  • 300 g sugar (1 1/2 cups)
  • 240 ml (1 cup) olive oil (or whatever oil you prefer)
  • 250 g (2 cups) flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2-1 tsp salt (I used 1 whole tsp because the salt I have is fleur de sel, but if you’re using fine table salt, then I suggest cutting the amount to 1/2-2/3 tsp)
  • Grated zest of one half to one whole lemon, depending on how big your lemon is. If in doubt, go for half (I didn’t have any oranges, but I will try adding orange zest as well, next time I bake this) (*I’ve now tried adding the zest of one orange as well, and while I don’t think it makes a huge difference in taste, it certainly doesn’t hurt!)
  • 1 cup finely grated carrot (240 ml)
  • 100 g (1 cup) roughly chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric mixer, until pale and foamy. Add the oil, and mix well. Add in the grated carrots, lemon/orange zest and chopped walnuts. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt, then fold this into the wet ingredients.

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Pour the batter into a well-greased and lightly floured bundt cake tin, and bake in a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F for about 45 minutes, until the cake is golden and a tooth pick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the tin, then carefully cut around the edges with a very thin knife, to loosen it from the sides of the tin. Turn the cake out onto a plate, and enjoy 🙂

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Keeps well for several days wrapped in tin foil.