Whole Wheat Carrot (Cup)Cakes

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Lest you ever think we have it all together, a series of chaotic events:

Differences between the plan and the execution:

  • Apple cider doughnuts became carrot cake cupcakes
  • Cupcakes became 6 jumbo cupcakes and 1 9″ cake
  • Belle alone became Belle and Buddy
  • Nothing ever got iced
Overhead of counter mess
Oh, I guess I’m not going to be able to reach anything on the counter today. But you two will be able to. Cool cool cool.

Things I barely kept out of reach:

  • Defrosting chicken for dinner
  • The electric tea kettle and its contained water that doesn’t belong in the batter
  • The coffee pot
  • The contents of our collection bag from yesterday’s nature walk, mostly leaves
  • Knives
  • Cheerios

Things that never made it into the mixing bowl:

  • About half an egg white
  • About half a cup of flour
  • All the raisins
  • The boiled cider we started for the Apple Cider Doughnuts
  • Cheerios!
Egg white not making it into a bowl.
Uh, Buddy, that’s not where the egg goes.

Things that made it into the mixing bowl that weren’t supposed to:

  • Egg shells
  • Measuring cups
  • Toddler hands, 3
  • Papa’s protein powder scoops, with protein powder dust, 2
Egg shells into a measuring cup
Wait, why are we crumbling egg shells? Actually, never mind, your brother is trying to crumble leaves in that cup over there. Also, sensory play?

Things I stopped caring about at some point:

  • Following the recipe’s order of operations
  • The exact amount of carrots – we just used up what was in the fridge
  • Taking turns
  • Differentiating between tasting and straight up eating
  • The amount of batter on the chairs/floors/under-cabinet task lighting
  • People eating recently spilled Cheerios off the floor
Buddy eating batter.
So this is going to occupy you while I shut the smoke detector off, right? Whatever.

Things I still cared about:

  • Keeping toddler hands from being mangled by a stand mixer or burned by the oven

A complete list of things partially melted while preheating the oven:

  • black sock, 1 (thanks, Buddy, for hiding that there)

A partial list of ways to distract children whilst convincing the smoke detector to stop beeping:

  • Shower
  • Cheerios
  • Octonauts
  • Papa
Unbaked carrot cake and cupcakes, with background boiled cider.
Please note the abandoned boiled cider on the back burner.

Skills worked on:

  • controlling chaos
  • gross motor coordination: swapping chairs
  • sharing
  • food prep!

Equipment needed:

  • cutting board and knife
  • vegetable peeler
  • food processor or box grater (food processor recommended)
  • mixer and mixing bowl
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • cupcake or cake pans
  • cupcake liners and parchment paper (preferable but not strictly necessary)
  • wire cooling rack

Recipe (45 min prep, 30-35 min bake, yield: 12 jumbo muffins or 2 9″ round cakes):

We modified this recipe from Inspired Taste, who modified it from Smitten Kitchen. In an attempt to make it healthier, we used whole wheat flour, but it could probably become less sweet by half (drop a comment if you want us to experiment!) and have some egg and gluten substitutions for allergies. 


  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 c whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 c carrots, or more (6-8 carrots)
  • 1/2 c raisins
  • 1 c walnuts, optional

Cream cheese frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 1/4 c powdered sugar
  • 1/3 c whipping cream
  1. Grease two 9″ round pans and place parchment in the bottom (parchment optional but recommended since this is a very moist cake). Or, grease/line cupcake tins. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Peel carrots and chop into 1-1 1/2″ chunks to put into food processor. Alternate grinding and chopping til no large chunks remain – it’s okay if it looks like some is shredded while some is closer to puree. Alternatively, peel, chop ends off, and grate on the medium holes of a box grater.
  3. Mix together wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl: 1 c sugar, 1 c brown sugar, 1 1/4 c vegetable oil, and 1 tsp vanilla. Mix in 1 egg at a time til all 4 are mixed in. Be sure to scrape down sides.
  4. Combine dry ingredients: 2 c whole wheat flour, 2 tsp baking soda, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt. Fold into wet batter (use low speed for stand mixer, and mix just until dry ingredients are moist.
  5. Fold in grated carrot, about 3 c.
  6. Optional: Add 1 c nuts and 1/2 c raisins.
  7. Fill pans 3/4 full and bake. Jumbo cupcakes are about 30 min, 9″ round cakes 40-45 min. Cake should be firm and springy on top and an inserted toothpick should come out clean.
  8. Cool for 15 min in pans then turn out on a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Prepare frosting: beat 8 oz cream cheese for about 1 min, then add 1/4 c powdered sugar at a time for a total of 1 1/4 c. Beat until creamy.
  10. Cake should be completely cool (consider refrigerating for extra firmness) before frosting, or spreading the frosting may rip the cake.

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