Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cupcake Hero: Earth Day Garden Carrot Cake

My first Cupcake Hero...YAY! It wasn't an ingredient this month, it was more like a theme.

I started planning mentally about two weeks ago, because I was traveling a lot this month, so I wanted to be ready to go when I had the time. I didn't want to get too crazy with the planning since I knew I was time constrained. I had to make a few changes along the way, but for the most part, it turned out alright.

The plan was to go for carrot cake because I'd wanted to try finding a fab carrot recipe for a while. But because it was an Earth Day theme, I thought I should go vegan on the cake and frosting.

However, I try not to make anything that I wouldn't necessarily eat, and let's face it, I'm far from Vegan. And the idea of Soy Cream Cheese didn't really work for me.

So when I saw the TWD group make the Big Carrot Cake from the book for last week's TWD..the pictures were amazing and I thought I def wanted to make that recipe...I've been craving carrot cake for a while.

So I got me some local, organic carrots, canola oil, organic eggs.

Mixed white wheat and all-purpose flour. Whipped up the cupcakes following the recipe somewhat closely. Used all natural unbleached liners from Whole Foods.

I toyed with the idea of a 'naked' carrot cupcake, I mean how much more Mother Earth could you go than natural???

But in the end..while I decided to stick with the more natural theme, I made it a little less naked. And because I'm a a little creative. I made a toothpick fence...

...used the carrot greenery tops to fill it in with 'jungle plants'...and then tossed some 'carrots' in. A rustic sign (wish I had some sand colored paper on hand!) and it was done.

A veritable carrot jungle garden cupcake. Thanks to my favorite tester for her fab fence idea. My husband pointed out that since I also used a 6 cupcake baking pan for them, that I was 'conserving oven energy'. Thanks hun!

So ta-da, there's my first Cupcake Hero, Earth Day and local carrot cupcake baked in earth-friendly natural liners. Yay for me.

By the way they were yummy too...I made a few 'batches'. One with just carrots because I am taking 24 minis to an event tomorrow evening and figured I didn't want to deal with potential nut allergies or coconut haters.

And since WE like our carrot cake chock full of fabulous nutty and raisiny goodness, I tossed the stuff into the rest of the batter and made a 6" 3 layer cake for us to enjoy. I had to literally fight off my better half while the cake was 'resting' in the fridge.

He did however eat TWO of the leftover large cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting, and pronounced them 'yummy'. I will post these cupcakes and the 6" cake in the next post to keep this all about the Hero.

I adapted Dorie's recipe from 'Big Bill's Carrot Cake' on page 254 of her 'Baking From My Home to Yours' book and came up with this one instead.

1 1/2c all-purpose flour
1/2c white whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix
3/4 tsp salt
3c grated carrots (I used chopped since my mini food processor only does chop and grind!)
1 1/2c bakers sugar
1/2c golden brown sugar, sifted
1c canola oil
4 large eggs, room temperature

Then if you want to add the other 'fun' stuff:
1/2-1c chopped walnuts
1/2c raisins (golden or brown)--I heated some rum and then put these into the rum until they puffed up and were soft
1/2c shredded coconut

Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, bp, bs, cinnamon, salt, spice mix). Stir together nuts, coconut, walnuts in another bowl if using.

In a stand mixer, beat sugar and soil together until almost creamy (mine was never quite creamy enough for me), add eggs one by one and beat til batter is smooth. At this point mine was very thin.

Hand mix or fold in the flour/dry ingredients, do not overmix and mix til just incorporated. Add in carrots, and other fun stuff if you are using it.

Bake at 325 until tester comes out clean. This recipe made 24 mini cupcakes, 6 large cupcakes, and a 6" deep 3 layer cake from my baking times were all over the place.

As many of the bloggers who did the TWD last time noted, this recipe does have some rise to it, so do not overfill the cupcake liners or the cake pans. I had some sinkage on the cake and the large cupcakes which was easy to cover with frosting, but interestingly enough the minis had NO sinkage at all. Nice and puffy.

Additional Random Mara Notes: Dorie's original recipe does not use white wheat flour, pumpkin pie spice, brown sugar, or steep the raisins in rum, these were my additions/changes. I loved how the cakes came's a SUPER delicate cake by itself, very spongey without the nuts and other items. When you add the nuts and raisins in, I found they kind of 'sank' a little through the batter.

Overall though, GREAT taste...though next time I would add more white wheat flour for a bit more substantial 'cake'. But I love the spongey feel of it, I have never had a spongey carrot cake before, they are always so crazy dense. Oh and I would also use less was a bit too sweet for me, could have been the sweetened coconut. I know most people like stuff super sweet but for me lately less is more.


Janna said...

Is in un-pc to call that cupcake your "hippy garden cupcake"? I laughed so hard! It is so cute!

I LOVE carrot cake. The recipe I use has all the goodies you like, plus pineapple and LOADS of cinnamon. Mmmmm....I might need to make that soon.

Mara said...

mmm I love me some cinnamon...pls do make the recipe and POST IT for me (or just email it to me!).

I have some bananas ripening on the counter that I plan for a goodie next week...after I'm 'over' the carrot cake.

And YES I thought the garden was kind of like a hippie jungle as well..'cottage garden' look...haha. It's very 'green'!

Mo said...

your jungle cupcake hero looks amazing and beautiful. I love the concept of a natural, organic, energy efficient cupcake. Mara T-you are my hero!

Cis4cupcake said...

I'm so glad I came across your site! You're take on the carrot cake is so cute and sounds yummy too! I ran out of time and didn't get my cupcakes done for this month's Cupcake Hero but I can't wait to see everyone's entries! Love the Westie playdate post also! I too have a Westie named Atticus McDougal but we call him Mac! I call him my sous chef!

maybelles mom said...

love your decorations on the cupcake.

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

These are GENIUS! Hahaha. Very cute.

I didn't participate in Cupcake Hero this month. My brain is just too tired to think of something creative for Earth Day. I like it when I'm told exactly what to use in the cupcakes! :)

I was raised eat box mix cakes too. Actually I don't think my parents ever tasted a cake from scratch until I made my first 'real' batch of cupcakes! They weren't too fond of it at first, but it has grown on them. I found this stuff called "vanilla butter nut flavoring" at the grocery store a few weeks ago. It really smells and tastes just like the yellow box mix. And it's like REALLY yellow so it makes the batter that signature fake yellow box mix color too. :) :)

Miranda said...

What a fantasic creation! I was expecting a little bunny to pop out of the greens any second. Good job darlin'!

Jessy and her dog Winnie said...

Very creative with the toothpick fence! Looks delicious!

Mara said...

Thanks for the sweet comments everyone!!! It was a lot of fun trying to be creative with the theme. Challenging for my first much going on this month!

Cis4...Aren't Westies the best?? I had one when I was younger too and they are just amazing.

HTEAC..I have some of the yellow butter flavoring extract stuff, think I can mix it with vanilla to get the same idea? I am intrigued!

Stef said...

What a creative entry! I am so impressed! I can't wait to see what ice cream cupcake you come up with!

Anonymous said...

Super cute idea! Very clever decorating! Carrot cake is perfect for earth day.

CB said...

I lurve the little fence around your carrot garden cupcake. How clever to make a carrot "cake" too. Great job!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

those are adorable! love your little carrot patch!

Mara said...

Thanks ladies!!! This was some YUMMY Earth Day carrot cake!!!

Natalie... said...

Wow love the way youve decorated them, they look brilliant :).