Carrot cupcakes with lemon soft cheese icing

Come here…

Come closer, shhhhhhh, no one can hear us, I’m going to tell you a secret… I’m going to tell you how I make the softest moistest most delicious carrot cupcakes. It’s a secret, you must keep it to yourself. I’m going to tell you everything but you must promise not to repeat it to anyone, it will be our secret. Shhhhhhhhh…..

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INGREDIENTS

For 12 cupcakes

  • 175 grams of brown muscovado sugar
  • 100 grams of wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 100 grams of self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp of mixed spice
  • the zest of 1 orange
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 150 ml of sunflower oil
  • 200 grams of carrots, grated
  • sprinkles, etc. to decorate to taste
  • 50-100 grams of ground almonds (not powdered; and chunky rather than fine)
  • 50-80 grams of chopped pecans

For the icing

  • 50 grams of butter, at room temperature, cut into small cubes
  • 150 grams of full-fat soft cheese
  • 50 grams of icing sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • the zest of 1/2 lemon

Carrots

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METHOD

  • Pre-heat your oven to gas mark 5 (190C). Line a cupcake baking tin with paper cases.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the flours, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice, and orange zest.
  • Add the eggs and sunflower oil and mix well until all combined.
  • Grate your carrots and squeeze out most of the juices (90%), then add to the bowl. Mix well and leave to rest for 5 minutes, allow the carrots to release all their moisture.
  • Finally, add the chopped nuts, adjusting the quantity depending on the texture and wetness of your mix. You want it to be rather wet but thick enough so that it sticks on the back of a spoon.
  • Pour the mix into the baking tin, up to 2 third up the paper case (Note: don’t over-fill the cases, or the cupcakes will not rise)
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out dry. 
  • When baked, take the cupcakes out of the baking tin (or they will keep cooking) and leave on a cooling rack.
  • In the meantime, place the butter cubes in a clean mixing bowl and, using a sharp knife, shred it into pieces as small as possible.
  • Add the soft cheese to the butter and whisk until smooth. You can pour a little bit of the soft cheese water if it helps with the whisking.
  • Add the icing sugar, lemon zest and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth and creamy.
  • Once they’re completely cooled down, ice your cupcakes. I like the icing to be thick and generous, as it balances well against the spices of the cake.
  • If there is any icing left, stick your finger in that bowl and eat it before someone else does.

There you have it. Guaranteed to please everyone; and not too long nor messy as cupcakes can sometimes be. Hope you enjoy it and, remember, this is just between you and me…

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Pecans and raisins bread and butter pudding

Some weeks ago, I enrolled a course to become an independent art curator (exciting!). It’s keeping me very busy, with classes all Saturdays and research and homework during the week. I’m loving it. And, bizarrely (or not), because I have less free time, I organise it way better! As a result, I have been cooking and baking much more than previously.

Last Sunday, for example, our dear friends visited us one last time before moving out of London and down to the seaside. These two like their food so we wanted to make something extra special for them. Special but unfussy – some honest, homemade, no-nonsense winter comfort food. So I made my pecan and raisins bread & butter pudding!

Now, I say *MY* bread & butter pudding and this is not entirely true. I actually based it on a recipe from Lucy’s Food recipe book and adapted it to our taste. The original recipe has dried apricot and an apricot coulis, but I like my bread & butter pudding a little bit more traditional.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 12 slices of brioche
  • 60 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature (spreading cold butter on brioche proved nearly impossible and extremely frustrating for short-tempered me 🙂 )
  • 60 grams of pecan nuts, roughly chopped
  • 60 grams of raisins
  • 150 ml of double cream
  • 150 ml of semi-skimmed milk
  • 4 free-range eggs
  • 30 grams of caster sugar
  • 30 grams of cane sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • fresh nutmeg, or cinnamon, or cardamon to taste.

METHOD

  • Pre-heat oven to 190C (gas mark 5).
  • Spread the brioche slices with butter.
  • Layer into an ovenproof dish with the pecans and raisins.
  • In a bowl, mix the cream, milk, eggs, caster sugar and grate a little fresh nutmeg. Depending on the mood and season, you can also add a little cinnamon and cardamon to the eggy cream mixture.
  • Pour the mixture over the brioche.
  • Sprinkle evenly with the cane sugar.
  • Bake in the oven for 40-45 min, or until the pudding has puffed up and the eggs are cooked through (you can check with a knife)

Serve warm with a little double cream.

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Yes, it’s that easy and that tasty!

I like this recipe because I find the brioche makes it a little bit less stodgy than regular bread and butter pudding, and the crunchy pecans give the pudding a nice contrast of textures. I wouldn’t go as far as to pretend it is a light pudding, but definitely lighter than bread and butter puddings I have had before! 😀