Right through my childhood whenever mum asked me to help her in the kitchen, always something really simple like peeling a cucumber or whisking a cake batter or just filling up all the water bottles, I would start pretending to be cooking diva with my imaginary audience right there, applauding me for my culinary expertise ofcourse.
Fast forward some decades and my little chefling, Sara does the same at home. Her typical script runs something like this, "Hello everyone, I am Sara the chef and today I am going to be showing you how to make the world’s best (Please proceed to insert any dish of your choice)....". It is always the world’s best when MLC is making it!
So when the opportunity to play “Nigella” in real life came along, I knew I just couldn’t refuse it. It all started with an email from the lovely team at Lootah Premium Foods asking me if I’d like to conduct a short cooking demonstration at Galeries Lafayette as part of their “Meet the Blogger” event.
See more pics here
That there were going to be eleven other wonderful ladies joining me in this challenge, helped. We were given some wonderful produce from Lootah to cook and I decided to bake Carrot and Raisin Cupcakes with a cream cheese icing. The healthier version.
For as long as I can remember I've always loved cooking. And about four years back when I became a mum the focus shifted from just cooking to cooking wholesome nutritious food and eating variety. Healthy, nutritious food as against the junk that the children obviously like and want and we are guilty of giving them, at times. Yours truly included.
And so when I was given a platform to cook and talk, I decided to preach:)
What is interesting about these cupcakes is that these are made out of wholewheat as opposed to the refined flour that most cupcakes are made out of. Refined flour or the fair flour has always dominated the baking food industry and though it yields much more attractive results, it does not contain even quarter the amount of health benefits that whole wheat has to offer. Whole wheat flour on the other hand is power packed with nutrients. It is fibre rich and is loaded with minerals and vitamins. A great choice for our little munchkins.
Having said that, I need to tell you that these cupcakes aren't as light as those made with white flour, the bran in them gives them a coarse texture which I think works well with the carrot.
Coming to carrots, not only is it “good for the eyes” but it is also good for the skin. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the liver which helps to protect the skin from sun damage. The cupcakes also have raisins that are a great source of energy, vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. Very rich in iron and potassium. If your little one is not fond of raisins, you may use prunes, dry apricots, walnuts, hazelnuts, whatever you fancy.
Whenever I make them I always make them mini and at times even without the icing. One, because Sara can take them to school as a snack or eat one for breakfast so the portion is perfect for her little tummy (Imagine she gets to eat a dessert for breakfast ofcourse with veggies inside it!). And two, if you are making them with the icing, the size helps you portion control the sugar bit. But go with what you like. This is a very forgiving recipe so you can make it into bigger cupcakes for a party or even a loaf cake, like a warm tea cake with some cream.
Before I share the recipe, I must thank Tony and James from Lootah for giving them lovely opportunity to conduct this demo, the ever helpful team at Lafayette, especially Chef Adrian and a big thanks to all those who came to encourage me.
Carrot and raisin cupcakes with cream cheese icing.
Makes 22 mini cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
175 gm whole wheat flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of salt
150 ml oil
150 gms soft light brown sugar
3 medium eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
50 gms raisins
225 gms carrots, peeled and grated
For the icing:
75 gms cream cheese
175 gms golden icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 180°C and lightly oil two 12 hole muffin trays.
1. Sift the flour,baking powder,cinnamon and salt in a bowl (Include any bran from the sieve).
2. Add the oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, raisins and grated carrots.
3. Beat until smooth and spoon into the muffin trays.
4. Bake for about 20 minutes until risen and golden.
5. Cool on a wire rack.
For the icing:
1. Peel thin strips of zest from the orange.
2. Beat the cream cheese and icing sugar together with 2 tsp juice from the orange to make a spreading consistency.
3. Swirl or simply spread the icing over each cupcake and then top with shreds of orange zest.
These cupcakes will keep for 3 days in an airtight container in a cool place.
*I have used cinnamon because I enjoy it as a supporting flavour but if you are not a big fan, you can easily leave this out. You can add pumpkin pie spice if you like.
**Also, usually one drains the grated carrot in kitchen roll before using it, to absorb the excess liquid but here it isn't required because the extra water actually helps keep the cake pleasantly moist.
**Adding a bit of the orange juice to the icing does lift the icing.
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