Since my previous attempt at a layered carrot cake failed, I decided to make cupcakes instead. Unlike other pans, the muffin tin rarely throws batter-filled fits over issues like depth and diameter. (Yes, cake pans, I'm eyeballing you.)
Cupcakes have kind of become the baker's pet of my cake world.
This recipe is deliciously chunky and clunky. It's bursting with walnuts, carrots, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and raisins. (Even I couldn't deny how fabulous the raisins performed in this one!)
Aside from the show-stopping cream cheese frosting, I've always loved the texture of carrot cakes. They're not delicate or girly, they're bold, spicy, and sassy...and they don't apologize for it.
I wish I could be more like a carrot cake. :p
If you're not feeling up to baking 24 cupcakes, this recipe will make a 9-inch layer cake. My only advice is to be sure that your cake pans are 2-inches deep. I tried to make it using pans that were only about 1 1/4-inches deep (I'm too clumsy with a tape measure to be accurate), and I ended up with cake batter all over my oven. (And no paper towel!)
Whatever you decide to go with, I promise that you'll be happy with the results. This is a classic carrot cake recipe with a dreamy cinnamon-maple cream cheese frosting. And everyone knows that cream cheese frosting is, and always will be, the Queen of all frostings.
Carrot Cake Cupcakes (adapted from smitten kitchen)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking Soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil
4 large eggs
3 cups grated peeled carrots (about 1lb, or 6-8 large carrots)
1 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 24 cupcake molds. [Note: If you prefer, you can make a 9-inch layer cake using this recipe. If making a cake, butter two 9x2-inch deep cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, butter and flour the paper, and then gently tap out any excess flour.]
In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking Soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. (Whisk for about 1 minuter per egg.)
Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and, using a large rubber spatula, stir until well blended. [Note: This is not a delicate cake, so don't worry too much about over-mixing.]
Stir in the carrots, walnuts and raisins.
Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners (about 3/4 full for each cupcake). If making a cake, divide the batter evenly among the two pans.
Bake the cupcakes for 14-18 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into one of the center cupcakes comes out clean. Since this recipe makes a lot of cupcakes, rotate the pans half-way through, to ensure even baking.
If you're making a layer cake, bake the layers for 36-40 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow them to rest in the muffin pans before transferring them to a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.
For the cakes: Remove the pans from the oven and allow them to rest for about 15 minutes before turning them onto a cooling rack and carefully removing the parchment paper. Cool before frosting.
Maple-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting [Note: This recipe is more than enough for a 9-inch layer cake, so go crazy on that middle layer!]
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup (that's 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
In a large mixing bowl (fitted with the paddle attachment, if using a stand-mixer), beat the cream cheese and butter together until light, creamy, and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar (I used about 1/2 cup increments). Beat well after each addition. Once all the sugar has been added, beat in the salt, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Beat on high speed until well combined. If the frosting looks too runny to pipe or spread, cover the bowl and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
Frost cupcakes (or cakes) as desired.
Makes 24 cupcakes, or one 9-inch layer cake