Orange carrot cupcakes – made using both actual oranges, and orange carrots. This recipe name works on so many levels. Or maybe it’s just the two.
Before we begin with today’s recipe, I’ve got to let you know that things might be a little more sparse around here for a month or two. We hit the “twelve weeks to go until the wedding” mark, which is resulting in some panic and DIY regrets. We will get there, but this blog might suffer for it. After mid-June though, normal service will be resumed.
It’s actually weird how 12 weeks seems like such a short period of time to a stressed-out bride-to-be, but to other people it probably feels like an age. Remember the six week school summer holidays? That seemed to last forever. And we’ve got a whole two of those to spare. I think there is something about working a 40 hour week, running a baking blog, and deciding to DIY pretty much all of a wedding which leaves you a little bit worse for wear.
I will still try and get one recipe per week up at the very least (as promised in my about me page), and I’ve spent the four day Easter weekend chained to my stand-mixer in the hope of getting some recipes built up in reserve. It looks like you have quite a lot of cookies coming your way.
Anyway – orange carrot cupcakes.
If you want the softest cupcakes ever made, then these are the girls for you. Honestly, I’m not the biggest fan of carrot cake. I gave these a whirl just to see if carrot cake would be suitable for one of the tiers of our wedding cake (which I am making myself… that’s probably 50% of the stress I’m facing right now). But alas, way too soft. Bad news for wedding cake, good news for you guys!
I guess it must be the carrot that makes them softer than clouds. The carrot is the only stress in this cupcake process – grating it does seem to take an age. And I only made a half-batch of these cupcakes. I guess some of you may have some high-tech grating solution, but I just used a regular cheese-grater and some brute force. Arm workout for the win.
There is no butter in these orange carrot cupcakes – instead you will need sunflower oil. Maybe other types of oil would work well too? I have to admit I am a bit of a novice when it comes to oil-based baking. I used sunflower, and it was a great choice. Using oil can make cakes less flavourful than butter, but that’s definitely not the case here, due to a whole host of delicious spices, and the juice and zest of a tasty orange.
For the frosting, I stepped out of my comfort zone again. Cream cheese is not something I ever really have anything to do with. I have a bit of an aversion to soft cheese in general. As far as I’m concerned, cheese should be crumbly and packed with flavour. But that would make hideous frosting.
But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a carrot cake without cream cheese frosting, so I put my fears aside and went for it. And the results were goooooood. My cream cheese frosting is sweet with a subtle orange flavour – and definitely doesn’t taste like cheese. I love that you can see the little speckles of orange zest in there too.
Cream cheese frosting can be a little bit runny if you aren’t careful, and I think it can vary depending on the brand of cream cheese you use. I used this Paysan Breton cheese from Ocado, which worked a treat using the recipe below. It necessary, you can always add more icing sugar if the frosting is too runny to pipe. And I would advise against filling your piping bag too full, as the longer the frosting is in the bag, the warmer (and runnier) it will become. Just fill the bag with enough for one or two cupcakes, and then refill.
I used a Wilton 1M star tip on my piping bag – as per usual. I put an absolute bucket of frosting on my cupcakes, so the recipe below will only frost 6 or 7. But if you put a normal amount of frosting on your cupcakes, then it should stretch to the whole 12. Or just make a double batch.
That’s all folks!
- 150g (¾ cup) light brown sugar
- 200g (1½ cups plus 1 tablespoon) plain or all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Zest and juice of one large orange
- 2 large eggs
- 150ml (2/3 cup) sunflower oil
- 200g (2 or 3 medium sized) carrots, grated
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 85g (3/8 cup) good quality cream cheese
- 25g (1¾ tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Zest and juice of one large orange
- 500g (4 cups) icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- 12 sugar or marzipan carrots to decorate
- Preheat the oven to 180°C / 355°F (160°C fan), and fill a 12 hole cupcake tin with cupcake cases.
- Place all the dry ingredients and the sugar in a bowl, and mix together with a stand or hand-mixer (or just a wooden spoon).
- Add the orange zest, orange juice, eggs, oil, grated carrots, and vanilla extract to the bowl, and mix on a low speed until fully combined. Be careful not to over-mix.
- Fill the cupcake cases 2/3 full, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until a skewer or toothpick inserted in the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack. Do not frost the cupcakes until they are completely cool, or the frosting will melt.
- Place the cream cheese and butter in a bowl, and mix until light and creamy using a stand or hand-held mixer. Add the orange zest and juice, and mix well.
- Add half of the icing sugar to the bowl, and mix slowly until fully incorporated. Add the remaining half of the icing sugar, and mix again. If the frosting still seems too runny to pipe with, feel free to add additional icing sugar until at the right consistency.
- Using a Wilton 1M star tip fitted to a piping bag, pipe the frosting onto the cool cupcakes. Add a marzipan or sugar carrot to the top if you like!
- The cupcakes will stay fresh for 2-3 days if stored in an airtight container. There is no need to refrigerate, unless it is a very hot day (as the frosting may melt). The un-frosted cupcakes can be frozen for 2-3 months, and then defrosted at room temperature - overnight works best. The cream cheese frosting can also be frozen for 2-3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge and use straight away.