When we were very small, most of our childhood holidays were spent in the Lake District. These holidays mostly consisted of walking. My brother and I would be dressed in our matching red jumpers and laced into our matching walking boots. Our packed lunch would be packed into our matching little red and blue rucksacks, complete with fabric badges of the places we’d visited, and off we’d go.
Our little legs were taken all over the Lake District, up and down hills, across slate scattered ridges, around lakes and to villages where slabs of kendal mint cake were purchased. We were taken to Lake Windermere, rode the old steamer boats and, excitingly to my very small self, visited the Beatrix Potter Museum.
Beatrix Potter penned and illustrated her children’s books in the Lake District. The books are little works of art in themselves, each character alive with personality and charm. Cheeky Peter Rabbit in Mr McGregor’s garden, Mrs Tiggy Winkle, the round and prickly washerwoman, the delightfully dressed Jeremy Fisher all natty shoes and balletic legs, and little Hunca Munca causing havoc in a Doll’s House.
The thin little hard back books are such a strong memory from childhood. The stories and their characters are deeply entrenched in my memory. Our pet rabbit, the offspring of the school pet, won by brother and entirely unwanted by my Mother for its entire 10 year life span, was named Mr McGregor after the grumpy gardener with a hatred for Peter, and a fondness for Rabbit Pie.
I couldn’t resist buying this cupcake kit this Easter. Just look at little Peter in his little blue waistcoat, a little hint of naughtiness in his whiskers. Then there’s Jemima Puddle-Duck. So smart in her hat and cape, but still such a loveable air-head.
What could be more fitting for the little rabbit who munches on forbidden carrots than carrot cake?
These are light little cakes, delicately spiced and topped with cream cheese icing. Sultanas add moisture and texture. As ever, the rich cream cheese icing perfectly compliments the moist carrot cake. The recipe makes enough icing to spread it on top of the cakes with a palette knife, if you want to pipe it on you’ll need to double the recipe.
The recipe is very easy. Like making a muffin, all thats required is to mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls, then mix together until just combined. Remember not to over mix the cakes. Too much beating will over work the gluten changing the cupcakes from light and tender to tough and rubbery.
Perfect served with a cup of tea over a the long bank holiday weekend.
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
(adapted from Baking Magic by Kate Shirazi)
for the cupcakes
300g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon all spice
115 soft brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
200ml milk (I used soya, but full fat or semi skimmed cows milk would also work fine)
150ml sunflower oil
1 large carrot, grated
for the cream cheese icing
150g full fat cream cheese
50g icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Preheat to the oven to 200C. Line a 12 hole muffin tin.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, all spice and sultanas.
In a separate bowl, mix together the brown sugar, eggs, milk, oil and carrot until well combined.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir together until just combined. Be careful not to over mix or the cupcakes could end up rubbery.
Divide the mixture between 12 cupcake cases.
Bake for 20 minutes until firm and golden. An inserted skewer should come out clean.
To make the icing, beat the cream cheese until smooth, then beat in the icing sugar and lemon juice.
Spread onto each cupcake.
Decorate with Easter characters, fondant carrots, or walnuts.