Carrot cupcakes with a cheesecake topping

I’ve been away the last few days in a self catering place with a pretty well equipped kitchen. That is always a good thing, and at the moment when a lot of us don’t much feel like eating out, it’s essential.

Earlier this week episode two of the new season of The Great British Bake Off was aired. So far I’m a little bit lukewarm, although I like the presenter combo of Matt Lucas and Noel Fielding. I am not so much a fan of the extended time. However it was suggested to me that cake would be an ideal accompaniment to viewing. I’m certainly not going to argue about that! For a short while I toyed with buying cake… but not for long – eating commercial fondant fancies, as lovely as they are, doesn’t seem right while watching Bake Off!

So. What to make, when the not-at-home kitchen was somewhat short on tins etc? As it happened I had brought my muffin tin. And some basic supplies like flour, sugar and eggs. Carrot cake was suggested, and I immediately though of a lovely recipe I know from a book called The Best of Betterbaking.com. It has the cream cheese topping that is traditional with carrot cakes baked in rather than as a frosting. I really prefer this, as the baked in cream cheese is much less sickly. BUT! I didn’t have the recipe! I couldn’t find the recipe on the website, as it was behind a paywall. What shall I do?! Son to the rescue – he managed to find a great recipe on YouTube: Carrot Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Swirl by Everyday Gourmet Blakely. The recipe looked very similar to what I could remember and had straightforward ingredients.

Blakely makes the recipe in a 9” x 9” tin, which was not available. So I made 12 cakes in the muffin tin. At home I have a gas oven, and this oven was an electric fan oven, which does work in a slightly different way. It also had a glass door so I could watch them as they cooked! I really did feel like the Bake Off contestants, anxiously watching the cakes get very close to spilling out all over the tin! (Although at least I didn’t have to lie on the floor like they do.)

With all due modesty, and credit to the recipe, these cakes were an absolute hit! The cream cheese baked in topping was delicious. And the cakes were very light. Deceivingly light, it was easy to eat more than one.

RECIPE (makes 12 or a 9” x 9” pan)

Prepare the pan or put cupcake/muffin liners in the tin. Put the oven on at 350 deg or Mark 4.

Mix together the following dry ingredients:

1cup flour; 1 tsp baking soda; 1/2 tsp baking powder; 1/4 tsp salt; 1 & 1/2 tsp cinnamon – I used pumpkin spice which is mixed spice.

In another bowl whisk together the following:

2 eggs; 1 cup sugar; 1/2 cup veg oil; 1 tsp vanilla extract.

You also need 1 & 1/2 cups of grated carrot at the ready. And if you like you can also add some walnuts and/or sultanas or raisins.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Then mix in the carrot and nuts etc. Put the mixture in the pan/ muffin cups.

Make the topping. Mix together:

8 oz (225g) of cream cheese (I used quite a fancy French cream cheese with salt, but any cream cheese would be fine); 1 egg; 1/3 cup of sugar; a little vanilla and/or grated lemon zest. ( I actually didn’t do this and the flavour was still yum.)

Put a dollop on the cake mix and very gently swirl it in a bit, using a a skewer or a thin knife. Bake for about 20-30 mins – I think this depends quite a bit on the oven!

I’ve written out this recipe mainly so that I can easily refer to it again myself, but I hope you try it too, because it’s definitely worth it!

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