I have never been a fan of carrots. I actually go through salads and pick out all the little shreds of carrots. I do however like them heavily buttered but only baby carrots. So carrot cake was never a dessert on my radar. It was so far OFF of my radar that liver may actually have been in front of it by virtue of the fact that I had at least tried liver. But carrot cake? Nope. Wasn’t doing it. No way no how. No carrots for this woman.
I DO however love frosting. And Oranges. So when I was at the grocery store one day a few years back casually perusing
drooling over the baked goods in their bakery department and trying to figure out why there was a check out boy with a mop & bucket in front of me as a voice said “CLEAN UP IN FRONT OF THE FAT LADY AT THE BAKERY…AGAIN!!!” I saw a huge cake. It was decorated in this thick creamy white frosting and on the little sign that I still remember fondly (I took a photo of that sign and framed it. It hangs in a sacred spot in my home now; the bathroom) were printed the words, “Carrot Cake With Orange Frosting- More Money Than You Can Really Afford Per Slice But Buy It Anyway!” .Ok, it didn’t really say part of that but it may as well have. So I looked… glared at the kid with the bucket because he kept cutting off my view of the cake…and told myself that yes, it was carrot cake… i.e. a cake with the dreaded carrots in it but that if nothing else, I could always pay 3 gazillion dollars for a slice of this and just eat that heavenly looking frosting. So I bought it. I took it home. I ate all the frosting off the top. I drooled some more. Then I took a deep breath and took a bite of the cake part. It was the only way to get to the frosting packed between the layers. Then… I fell in love.
I still don’t like most carrot cake. I do though like carrot cake the way I make it now (and from that same store when I feel like blowing the rent money on cake). I like moist and tender cake chock full of pineapple and raisins and orange zest and spices and oh yeah, those carrot things too. And frosting that is buttery and cream cheesy (ahem; yes, this too is now a word) and also full of that lovely orange flavor I so drool over in store bakery sections.
If you like carrot cake, you should like this. It isn’t overly sweet (I actually think I will add a bit more sugar next time; maybe 1/2 cup. It’s more muffiny than I like.) and is nice and moist and the frosting I made to go with it is quite yummy if I do say so myself. The cake comes from (adapted slightly) The King Arthur Whole Grain Baking Book (other than the orange zest and using both pineapple and raisins; they had it as a choice, silly people.) and the frosting comes from my warped brain. Enjoy!! You can also make this as a layer or sheet cake (that is what it is in the book) but I wanted cupcakes. It makes 33 cupcakes so it is perfect for a pot luck or church supper or for kids at school and this is actually semi nutritious (I know; scary huh?) cause of the fruits and carrots and whole wheat flour.
Carrot Cake Cupcakes With
An Orange Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 cups whole wheat flour, traditional or white whole wheat
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 1/2 cups grated carrots (yes… THOSE)
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
- 1 can (8 ounces) well drained crushed pineapple
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 4 tablespoons orange juice
- 4 cups (more or less as needed to get proper consistency) powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Either grease and flour 2 9 inch cake pans or line 33 (can be done in batches) muffin cups with paper or foil liners.
- Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and beat until well blended. Add the vanilla then the sugars.
- In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones, mixing until it is smooth. Add in the carrots, nuts, pineapple and raisins. Mix well.
- Spoon batter into the prepared cupcake cups. Bake at 350 for about 16 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pans for 2 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling while you make the oh so delectable frosting
- For Frosting- in a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese and butter until creamy and well combined. Add in the orange zest, extracts and orange juice. Beat well. Add in the powdered sugar and beat at low speed until combined (I always do this with the bowl set in the sink so that I don’t have sugar flying everywhere) then turn speed up to high and beat for five minutes. If frosting it too thick, add a touch of OJ to it. If too thin, add more powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time until you have the desired consistency.
- Spoon or pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Eat. Don’t share. Tell the kids that these are poison.