I really should get better about posting recipes for holidays BEFORE the holiday has come and gone! I mean, you can eat carrot cake any time of year. Carrots are never really out of season, are they?
But most people think of making a carrot cake either in the fall, due to the spicy nature of most carrot cake recipes, or they make it for Easter.
I knew I wanted a delicious carrot cake for Easter this year but, since I haven’t made one in about 10 years, I didn’t even have a recipe sitting around or bookmarked in a book that I knew was stupendous. So I had to test textures and spices. I had to bake a bunch. And I had to taste test.
You’re welcome. That’s called taking one for the team!
I found a recipe on the Taste of Home website and I made a batch of cupcakes exactly as the recipe was written. The first thing that I noticed was the large amount of oil in the recipe. Once the cupcakes were cooled, I went to take a photo or two and I noticed that there was an oil mark on the counter and oil on my hands when I moved the cupcake. This was just NOT what I was looking for!
Not one to waste food, I dolled out those cupcakes to people to get some feedback. Funny enough, no one said anything about the oil. The feedback I got was that there was not enough spice, the icing was too sweet and not cream-cheesey enough.
The next day was back to the drawing board with several changes. I made two further batches to get the flavor and consistency that I was looking for. I got rid of more than half the oil, added applesauce as a substitute and added pineapple for additional moisture. I also increased the cinnamon and nutmeg that the original recipe called for and I added ginger, cardamom and clove.
You’ll notice that I made cupcakes for the test batches but then made a 9×13 cake for Easter Sunday. The main reason for that is that I have to give away most of what I bake or it would go to waste. My crew can seriously eat but when I’m testing a recipe, they can’t keep up and if they tried they would each weigh as much as a boat!
The great thing about cupcakes is that I can taste test one (or three – don’t judge!), save a few for my family and give the rest away. If I made a cake and cut a few pieces for us, it is much harder to give it away!
One other thing that I have to get better at? Taking photos during the baking process and of the finished product. I only snapped a couple of a cupcake and NONE of the Easter Sunday sheet cake. I will do better! I promise!
Please give this recipe a shot whether it’s Easter or not and let me know what you think!
Carrot Cake Cupcakes or 9×13 Cake
Makes 22 – 24 Cupcakes or One 9×13 cake
For the Cake:
- 1 and 1/2 cups (300g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (180ml) vegetable or canola oil
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup (255g) unsweetened applesauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 and 1/2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 cups (275g) grated carrots (about 3 large)
- 1 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple (or one 8 oz can drained crushed pineapple)
For the Frosting:
- 8 ounce package of full fat cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 4 cups icing sugar
- Dash of salt
- Preheat oven up to 350°F. Place cupcake wrappers in cupcake pan or spray 9×13 pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla until combined. Set aside. In another large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves together until combined. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and fold together until just combined and no streaks of flour are left. Fold in the carrots and pineapple.
- Spoon the batter into the 9×13 pan or, using an ice cream scoop, scoop about ¼ cup batter into each cupcake wrapper. Bake 9×13 pan for 38-42 minutes or cupcakes for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes then remove from pans to cool on wire rack.
- Make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a handheld mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, salt and 2 cups of the icing sugar together on medium speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for 2 minutes. If the icing is very soft, refrigerate it for about 30 minutes until is firmed up a bit and at a piping for frosting consistency.
- You can either pipe or spread the icing on the cake of cupcakes once they are completely cool.
- Cover tightly and store at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. This cake is great to make the day before it is needed. Prepare the cake/cupcakes and the frosting 1 day in advance. Store cake at room temperature, covered tightly. Refrigerate prepared frosting in an airtight container until ready to use. Bring icing to room temperature then frost cake.
Mix-in ideas: Up to 1 cup Raisins, coconut, chopped pecans or walnuts or dried cranberries.
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