Bill’s Big Carrot Cake Becomes Ann’s Cupcakes and Some Extra Credit

Tuesdays with Dorie

Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.”

Jim Davis, ‘Garfield’

Let’s add carrot cookies too, but hold that thought.

This week’s Tuesday with Dorie assignment is Bill’s Big Carrot Cake, chosen by Amanda of slow like honey. We love carrot cake so we were excited to try this recipe. Since there are only three of us I decided to make cupcakes because it’s easier to freeze the leftovers. Somehow cupcakes seem like less pressure than a big cake sitting there screaming at you to eat a piece. Plus, my son is never happier than when there is cake in the house, whether it’s freshly made or in the freezer.

On a side note, one of my most recent and beloved acquisitions for my kitchen is the Escali Pana Volume and Weight Digital Scale which comes pre-programmed with ingredients to measure by volume, including carrots! I mean, how do you measure three cups of shredded carrots. Do you fill the cups lightly or pack them in? How much would they weigh? With this scale, I enter the code for carrots, start adding them to the bowl, and the readout tells me when I have three cups. This is also really great to use when you grate parmesan with a Microplane and end up with a big pile of light fluffy parmesan. It may look like 1/4 cup but it might only be a tablespoon. But enough about that.

There was no drama this week like last week’s marshmallows. Everything came together without a hitch. I used pecans and dried cranberries. I decided to make cupcakes. I filled the muffin cups too full so they came out looking more like muffins. I trimmed the edges off before frosting the cupcakes which left me with a lovely bag of cupcake scraps for snacking on.

The cupcakes collapsed a bit when I rotated the pans in the oven. I hoped they might recover during the final baking, but the final product was slightly sunken in the middle. I thought maybe there wasn’t enough leavening in the batter, but after looking it up in one of Alton Brown’s books, learned it could be from too much leavening, too hot an oven, or a batter that is unable to support its own weight. This is a heavy batter with a lot of add-ins, so that’s the direction I’m leaning in. But, you know, the deeper the indentation, the more frosting you can use to fill it in. I believe in my heart that cake (no matter how good) is simply the vehicle for the frosting.

These cupcakes were really delicious and moist. They also inspired me to practice a little cake decorating.

Since I already had all the ingredients in the house, I also made the gingered carrot cookies with dried cranberries instead of raisins. They were also awesome, but that’s another episode.

BTW, I don’t think we’re going to have any cupcakes left to freeze.

Bill’s Big Carrot Cake

Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Yields 10 servings


For the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted w/ a shredding a blade or use a box grater)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs

For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound or 3 and ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
½ cup shredded coconut (optional)
Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)

Getting ready:
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

To make the cake:
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months. (But be honest . . . when you’ve made a cake from scratch and the kitchen smells really good, can you REALLY bear to put it in the freezer at this point? Because I can already taste the frosting at this point)

To make the frosting:
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.

If you’d like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.

To assemble the cake:
Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top- and the sides- of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft.

Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.

This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it’s good plain, it’s even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.

The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it’s firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.

22 responses to “Bill’s Big Carrot Cake Becomes Ann’s Cupcakes and Some Extra Credit”

  1. Looks wonderful! Thanks for the note about the scale, I might look into that! I am not a huge cake person so I totally agree about it being a vehicle to frosting, and what better frosting than cream cheese?!

  2. The scale sounds like the thing to have! My cakes sunk a little, too, after rotation. I ended up trimming a bit, but all was good…more to nibble on. 🙂

  3. Opps! Hit submit too quick, before I added – Your cupcakes look too good to resist.

  4. Wow – sounds like a snazzy scale you have there! I didn’t really have any cupcakes left to freeze either, but your cake decorating looks awesome!

  5. looks delicious and I have to agree about the smell. It was wonderful!

  6. Lovely cupcakes! I also went by weight for the carrots (thanks to Ulrike of Kuchenlatein), much less guess work!

  7. That scale sounds like the shizzle, I’m going to Google it shortly!

    Your cupcakes look great, and I like the idea of carrot cookies, I’ve never made those before. Well done!

  8. The cupcakes are beautiful! I need to check out that scale…

  9. Love the Garfield quote! Definitely agree about the vehicle for frosting. Love me some frosting! I LOLed at your comment on my blog about filling in the cupcake with edges. Add the frosting and no one’s the wiser 😉 Great job!
    Clara @ I♥food4thought

  10. The scale sounds really cool. I did not know that sucha thing existed. Your cakes are cute. And cakes ARE just vehicles for frosting. I will tell you since becoming a blogger I have so expanded my horizons on frosting. So glad I did.

  11. Nice job! And carrot cookies? Cool!

  12. Your cupcakes look beautiful! I love the way you decorated them! Thanks for the tip about the scale. I think I’ll have to add that to my list of things to buy for the kitchen!

  13. Wonderful cupcakes! None for the freezer, huh? I have wanted to make carrot cake cupcakes and I hope you share more about those too!

  14. Another gadget for my wish list – Escali Pana Volume and Weight Digital Scale. Sounds very cool!

  15. Ooh, carrot cookies? What a fun idea! I love the variety of your frosting techniques!

  16. yum! i love your creative decorating…and am jealous of that scale!

  17. Wonderful decorations!

  18. Nice lookin’ cupcakes… and I’m having some serious kitchen envy over your new gadget! 🙂

  19. This looks delicious! You must make Brink bring some of this stuff into work, we’re hungry!!!

  20. Lovely cupcakes! Delicious too!

  21. Great idea to make the cake into cupcakes, so I dont eat the whole cake myself… hahah. looks great!

  22. Cake is totally a vehicle for frosting 😀

    They look great!

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