Thursday, April 1

In the kitchen: carrot cupcakes

I've been waiting a whole year to make these. I saw the design on a web site last April, but for some reason (that I can't recall right now) I couldn't make them for Easter 2009, so it had to wait until this year.

Pretty cute, huh? I didn't quite get the toasted-coconut-nests look, but it's not bad.
You can make these with any type of cake and icing. But it's Easter, and bunnies are around at Easter, and bunnies eat carrots, so, carrot cake seemed the natural choice.

With cream cheese icing, of course, because really, what's a carrot cake without cream cheese icing? It's just a cake made out of vegetables, and that's a hard sell.

I've been using this same carrot cake recipe for over 30 years now. It's from a 1940's ladies church auxiliary cookbook of my mother's, and it was the first not-from-a-mix cake I ever learned to make.

When I was 11, I baked one up and entered it in the Fall Fair in my hometown (population 1,500). I wasn't old enough to enter the women's baking category and they didn't have one for kids, so I had to enter it under my mother's name. And I won first place. Or rather, mom won, but she was too proud of me to keep it a secret. It wasn't long before everyone knew that a kid in grade 7 had beat seasoned bakers five times her age.

The next year I was old enough to "legally" enter the category. I won first place again, and for every year after that until I turned 18 and decided it was time to let some of the little old ladies in town take back the blue ribbon.

Every year the same man would call me up before the Fair and ask if I was entering my carrot cake, and then he would buy it from me in advance, waiting patiently until the Fair was over so he could collect his prize.

That's how good this recipe is.

It never fails, and while it isn't exactly healthy by today's standards it's not like you're eating it every day, so I don't worry about that. Part of its appeal, for me at least, is in it's plainness. There are no raisins or walnuts tarting up this baby; she's just pure carroty goodness with cinnamon highlights and a sugary finish, the perfect partner for a cream cheese icing.

Carrot Cake
3 eggs
1 cp vegetable oil
1 cp white sugar
2 cps grated carrots
2 cps all-purpose flour
1 1/3 tsp cinnamon
1 1/3 tsp baking powder
1 1/3 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cps grated carrot

Beat eggs until pale. Add sugar and oil, beat again until well blended. Sift dry ingredients together and stir into egg mixture, alternating with grated carrots. Pour into greased cake pan or muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees. Makes one 9x9 cake or 12 cupcakes. Cool and ice with cream cheese icing.

Cream Cheese Icing
4oz Philadelphia-brand cream cheese, block, softened
1 Tb butter, softened
1 cp icing sugar
1 tsp real vanilla

Beat cream cheese and butter together. Slowly add icing sugar, beating after each addition until smooth. Add vanilla and blend.

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