Today, mention these individual carrot cakes and I’m still cringing. Have you had an embarrassing instant of saying something without thinking it through, then spent the following hours and day wishing you could correct it and hit replay? Even on a day like French Mother’s Day today, I can’t ask for that gift.
Such a wincing-induced moment came yesterday. It could have been straight from a Desperate Housewives’ scene; Bree standing in frilly apron, smiling proudly from ear to ear behind the baking stall at the School’s Summer Fête looking at her carrot cakes.
Just as the director of the school chose a cake for his offspring and was about to continue the rounds, my mouth somehow opened on my behalf and blurted, “I baked these.”
These three pathetic words constantly tease me. “Excuse me, Sir. That’s what my mouth said.”
The only consoling thought is that everyone seems to love a good carrot cake – now including French hubby, who normally only appreciates spices in a curry or tagine.
For the Fête, I chose to make light cakes, as I was simply too lazy to cut up a large cake! I’m not calling them cupcakes but individual carrot cakes.
INDIVIDUAL CARROT CAKES
Adapted from Sarah Cook’s recipe in the BBC Good Food Magazine (May 2010 issue). The recipe is super in that there is not as much sugar as other recipes I’ve tried and I love the proportion of carrots, making the cakes very light. I increased the quantities from 12 to 18 muffins and lowered the sugar quantity even more, adding extra zest to the frosting for more zing, and on the icing quantities as I had too much in proportion to the cake mix. This recipe is also delicious if you replace the orange with an organic unwaxed lemon.
Makes 18 large carrot cakes using muffin moulds and paper cases (@ 7cm diameter) or one large cake.
300g plain flour (or half each of plain and wholemeal flour)
225g soft light brown sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tsp gingerbread (pain d’épices) or mixed/pumpkin spice
zest of an unwaxed orange (keep some aside for the icing)
225g sunflower oil (or other neutral oil)
300g organic carrots, finely grated (weight after peeled)
75g butter, softened
225g soft cheese, at room temperature (e.g. Philadelphia)
75g icing/confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract (or add 1 tsp zest from the orange)
Sprinkles or crushed pecan nuts, to decorate (optional)
1. Heat oven to 180°C/360°F/160°C fan (Gas 4).
In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, spice and orange zest. Whisk together the eggs and oil, then stir into the dry ingredients with the grated carrot.
2. Prepare 18 muffins lined with paper cases. Divide the mixture between cases and bake for 20-22 minutes until a skewer poked in comes out clean. (If making a large cake, then bake for 40-45 minutes or until the skewer comes out clean and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack).
3. To make the icing: beat the butter until creamy, then beat in the soft cheese, icing sugar and vanilla/orange zest. Either swirl the icing on top of the cakes using a palette knife or use a piping bag with a star tip to pipe out spiral toppings and sprinkle with edible glitter to your fancy.
Enjoy! Just watch what your mouth says.