Carrot cake is always popular, and you can make this one into one small loaf cake for slicing if you prefer: you’ll need to cook it a little longer. Before baking the cakes, make this icing first to chill the icing ready for use. It’s too soft to use straight away. Frostings for cakes will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for a few days. Bring them back to room temperature before using them.
- 175 g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, level
- 1 tsp mixed spice or cinnamon, level
- 140 g light muscovado or soft brown sugar
- 100 ml sunflower oil
- 3 medium eggs
- 175 g carrots, coarsely grated and squeezed out really well
- 1 tbsp milk, optional
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- 150 g soft cream cheese full-fat, drained
- 75 g soft butter
- 300 g icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180°C gas 4.
- Line a 12 hole muffin tin with large cupcake cases or muffin cases.
- Weigh all the ingredients carefully and have them ready at room temperature.
- Sieve the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and spice together evenly.
- Place the sugar into a large bowl, and using a handheld electric whisk, add the oil and then the eggs, one at a time, whisking.
- Stir in the carrots, and then fold in the sifted dry ingredients.
- Add the milk to loosen and soften the mixture.
- Divide the mixture into 12 cases in the muffin tin, about three-quarters full.
- Bake on the centre shelf in the oven for about 25 -30 minutes. The cakes are done when the centre springs back if you press lightly with a finger.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool on a rack. Then, remove them from the tin to cool, or the bases will become wet. Decorate when cold.
- To make the cream cheese frosting
- Sieve the icing sugar first. Then, beat half the cream cheese with half the icing sugar and the butter together.
- Add the remaining cream cheese and sieved icing sugar, plus vanilla and then whisk until light and fluffy.
- Add a little water if needed until smooth and creamy. You can add a touch of cinnamon, orange zest or chopped stem ginger if you like.
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Keep everything fairly cool, and don’t overbeat a cream cheese version. A handheld electric mixer is best, and use a pulse to beat a little at a time until it is smooth. Whereas buttercream benefits from whipping to make it light, the cream cheese equivalent is liable to curdle. Use full-fat soft cheese and drain it well: low-fat versions tend to thin or separate after beating. To decorate the cupcakes, fill a disposable piping bag with a large star nozzle (or simply snip off the end after filling). Start at the outside edge, piping around the edge of the cake in a spiral towards the centre. Pull up quickly to finish the swirl. Add some sprinkles. Keep the cakes chilled in the refrigerator after icing.