Recipe | Carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

You’ve guessed it: individual carrot cakes. What more could you want?


I got this recipe from one of my baking bibles: Nigella’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess. As usual, I’ve written the method to reflect the little changes I made as I went along.

Ingredients (makes 12-16 cupcakes)

  • 100 g / 3.5 oz light brown sugar (Nigella says “light muscovado”; my packet said “light brown sugar” and it worked just fine)
  • 175 ml vegetable oil (Nigella says “sunflower”; I say “any vegetable oil will do”)
  • 2 eggs (Nigella says “large”; I say “medium or large”, don’t let it worry you)
  • 225 g / 8 oz plain flour
  • 3 quarters of a tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt (I always feel this is optional. Lay off if you’re avoiding/cutting down on salt)
  • zest of half a lemon (my lemon was tiny so I zested the whole thing)
  • zest of half an orange or 1 satsuma
  • 150 g / 5 oz carrots (approx. 2 medium), grated
  • 100 g / 3.5 oz walnuts, chopped (keep back 12 walnut halves if you’d like to use them as final decorations)


I won’t lie to you: the prep for this does take a while. If you’re lucky enough to have a food processor to do all the grating and chopping for you, then that’ll save you quite a bit of time.

Grate the carrots. Zest the lemon and orange/satsuma. Chop the walnuts. Measure out your oil.


Once you’ve got all that done, the rest is easy. Put twelve cupcake cakes into a muffin or bun tray. I found the mixture was enough for 16 cupcakes so had to use a second “overflow” tray too. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C (180 fan)/ Gas Mark 6 / 400 degrees F.

I used my mixer to take the hard work out of the following. Beat together the sugar and oil, then add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the flour, bicarb, cinnamon, salt (if you’re using it) and zests. Mix until combined. Fold in the grated carrot and walnuts.

Spoon your carrot cupcake mixture evenly into the cupcake cases, filling them about two thirds full. The raw mixture doesn’t look particularly appetising, but it was delicious!


Bake the carrot cupcakes for 20 minutes or until golden brown, risen and when a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack while you prepare the cream cheese icing.


To make the icing, Nigella gives quantities of 125 g / 4.5 oz cream cheese and 250 g / 9 oz icing sugar. Unfortunately, I think my cream cheese was rather watery which meant using these weights resulted in far too thin an icing. I had to add an extra 125 g / 4.5 oz of icing sugar to thicken it up. I put the cream cheese and the icing sugar in my mixer and let it stir them together until smooth, but it isn’t too hard to do by hand and much easier than making buttercream.

I used a small star tip and piping bag to pipe swirls and star points of cream cheese frosting onto the cupcakes and finished them off with a walnut half.


Nigella recommends putting the icing on using a knife. I decorated a few by spooning on the icing and smoothing it using the back of the spoon. They turned out like this:


Whether you pipe the cream cheese icing or apply it with a knife/spoon will depend on how much time you have and who you’re preparing your carrot cupcakes for!




Like carrot cake but want to make more? Try this!

Slice of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and walnuts


Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.





Claire Huston / Art and Soul


25 thoughts on “Recipe | Carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

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