Tuesday 22 April 2008

Carrot Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Last week, I had to miss out on TWD. I had a good excuse - I was running in the London marathon last Sunday. Yes, after 4 long months of training, it was finally race day and it was absolutely, mind-blowingly fantastic! Many people had told me over and over again that on race day, the crowds would carry you to the finish line. Yet, I still had my doubts. They were right, though. Despite the rain and dreary weather, approximately a quarter million people lined the route and cheered their hearts out for all the runners. Buoyed by their amazing support, I crossed the finish line almost a whole hour faster than I anticipated.

Now that I no longer have to spend hours training each weekend, I was glad to have a TWD recipe to look forward to. This week's choice was a carrot cake, something that I've made just once before. That time, I didn't quite like the result so I was hoping that Dorie's version would turn out better.

Since I already had a cake in the fridge from a previous baking session, I decided to use the recipe to make cupcakes instead. To do so, I halved both the cake and frosting recipe and had enough of both to make about 14 regular cupcakes.

I brought these cupcakes to a brunch on Sunday and I must say they were a huge hit. Reactions ranged from "these cupcakes are killer" to "these are the best cupcakes I've ever had in my life". Yet another hit from Dorie!

Bill's Big Carrot Cake
From Baking: From My Home to Yours

For the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted with a shredding a blade or use a box grater)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs

For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound or 3 and ¾ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
½ cup shredded coconut (optional)
Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)

Getting ready:
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

To make the cake:
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.

To make the frosting:
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.

If you'd like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.

To assemble the cake:
Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top- and the sides- of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft.

Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.

This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it's good plain, it's even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.

The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it's firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.

Makes 10 servings


Engineer Baker said...

Oh wow - I'm impressed about the marathon and happy for you that it went so well! There really is amazing camaraderie in those types of races. Your cupcakes look beautiful and tasty!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

congratulations on your marathon finish!! these cupcakes look like a great way to celebrate!

Rebecca of "Ezra Pound Cake" said...

Way to go on the marathon! Now, you, Oprah, and P. Diddy are the only people I know who have completed one. ;)

Also, I'm glad you got rave reviews on the cupcakes. Cream cheese frosting–yum.


amanda. said...

Congrats on the marathon! I can only imagine how exciting that must have been.

Your cupcakes look fantastic. And it's good to hear that they got good reviews.

Chris said...

Wow! I can't even imagine! What a wonderful accomplishment. Congrats. And - the cupcakes look delicious!

Peabody said...

You crazy woman running a marathon! Very cool for you. I only run when being chased...but am impressed by those who do it for fun.
Good looking cupcakes.

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Mary Ann said...

wow- congrats on the marathon- I did a half on saturday and it was great! Great job on the cupcakes!

Marie Rayner said...

Your cupcakes are so cute! My daughter runs marathons! I really admire anyone who can!

April said...

your cupcakes look great!

Mari said...

Wowsa, I'm totally impressed with your sportiness! You needn't worry about consuming any extra calories for a while, eh? Maybe I should start training for a marathon then, too....LOL! ;-)

Your cupcakes look great, I know why they garnered so many compliments, being both tasty and beautiful.

LyB said...

Wow, a marathon, I can't even imagine doing that! Delicious looking cupcakes!

Annemarie said...

Nice job on the cupcakes...and the marathon!!!

PheMom said...

So good! I made cupcakes too, but mine sunk on me. Yours look perfect! Congrats on running that marathon! Absolutely amazing!

Erin said...

Congrats on the marathon! What an accomplishment! I don't know if my knees will let me do a full one, but I really want to do a half marathon in the fall. Your cupcakes look delicious! What a great treat after all of that training!

Amy of Sing For Your Supper said...

These look great!!! :-) Love the pictures!!

Melissa said...

Congrats on the marathon. I would mention the cupcakes, but the marathon impresses me too much!

Melissa said...

Secret ingredient...because you asked is zuchinni. Use zuchinni in place of 1/3-1/2 of the carrots. Wonderfully moist.

Carrie said...

Congrats on the marathon! If anyone deserves some Dorie cupcakes, it's you! :)

CB said...

Awesome job on your marathon! What a great way to celebrate - cupcakes!
Clara @ I♥food4thought

Jayne said...

Wow - congratulations on running the marathon!! Good for you!! I'm very impressed. And the cupcakes look so pretty.

Sherry Trifle - Lovely Cats said...

Lovely cupcakes! Jolly well done on the marathon.

Shari said...

Way to go on the marathon! Your cake looks great!

Gretchen Noelle said...

I am impressed by the marathon. Wow! Great cupcakes also! What a cake to celebrate with!

Emily said...

Great idea with the cupcakes! And congrats on the marathon.

Dolores said...

Congratulations on your marathon... what a wonderful accomplishment!

And what's your secret? Your cupcakes don't look like they sunk? Mine were a sunken mess. A tasty sunken mess... :)

Jennifer said...

Wow - congratulations on finishing the marathon! Your cupcakes look great!

mimi said...

what a great way to celebrate your marathon! your cupcakes look delish!

Donna said...

I love your frosting! It's so white and pretty!
Donna @ Spatulas & Corkscrews

Sharon said...

Great job on the Marathon. The cupcakes look great.

Zakia / Avenue Z Desserts said...

your cupcakes look great! congrats on the marathon.

Holly Dart said...

Your photography is beautiful! Great job on your Daring Bakers Challenge this month, too!

Natalie said...

Wow, a marathon! The cupcakes look fantastic and tasty!