Carrot Cake Muffins

Carrot cake muffin with cream cheese icing

Carrot cake is one of my favourite cakes, but it must be good carrot cake. Stodgy, dry or with no visible carrot just doesn’t cut it.

Since this recipe calls for 3 cups of carrots, you might imagine that eating the cake is like chewing a carrot. In fact, the carrots soften and almost “dissolve” into the cake, while still definitely being there. I know, it’s weird. Trust me though, you’ll probably like it.

Because of the number of eggs and the addition of yoghurt, this recipe makes a lighter and softer cake than many I’ve tried. I’ve been making it as a cake for more than 30 years. See below the original recipe I wrote in my recipe file back then (way before Pinterest – or even mobile phones – existed!), along with notes on changes I’ve made through the years.

Original carrot cake recipe

Then the other day I decided to use the batter to make muffins instead, which turned out really well.

And of course the star of the show, in my personal opinion, is the cream cheese icing. I LOVE cream cheese icing. It can be a bit tricky to make but if you follow some simple rules, you should be able to avoid it curdling.

You can, of course, use this batter to make the original two-layer cake the recipe came from, if you like. If you do that, I find it usually takes 25 – 30 minutes to cook, if you use two separate pans for the layers. Then you get to put icing between the layers as well as on top – yum!

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  • 1¼c castor sugar
  • 1½c cooking oil
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2¼c flour
  • 1t baking powder
  • ½t bicarb
  • 4t cinnamon
  • 1½t cloves
  • ½t allspice (optional)
  • 2T yoghurt or milk
  • 3c carrot, peeled and grated
  • ½c chopped nuts or sunflower seeds (I like to toast these slightly and put them on top instead of inside)


  • 150g butter – at room temperature
  • 150g cream cheese – at room temperature
  • ±2c icing sugar
  • 1t vanilla


Take butter and cream cheese out the fridge and set aside to reach room temperature.

Preheat oven to 180⁰C. Prepare muffin tins by placing muffin cases in them. Peel and grate the carrots.

Place sugar and oil in a large mixing bowl and beat together for a minute or so. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each, until the mix is light and fluffy. Add flour, baking powder, bicarb, spices and yoghurt, and beat again. Fold in grated carrot and nuts (if using in the cake).

Spoon into muffin cases to about two thirds full.

Bake for 15 minutes then test them with a skewer. If it comes out wet, they may need another 5 minutes or so, depending on their size. Take them out as soon as the skewer doesn’t come out wet. Then let them cool completely before icing them (or the icing will slide right off).

Beat room temperature cream cheese for a minute or so, then gradually add softened butter and beat some more until they are well combined (if either is too cold, they may curdle, which is still edible, but the texture isn’t as nice).

Then add icing sugar slowly until it reaches the sweetness you like. If it starts looking a bit grainy, stop adding icing sugar at that point. Finally add vanilla.

If it’s a hot day, you may need to leave it to slightly set again in the fridge before spreading over the muffins/cake. Top with toasted nuts or seeds, or whatever other decorations you fancy.

Note: This cake needs to be kept cool, or the icing will be very soft.

Carrot cake muffins


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© Alexandra Lawrence and Inspired Nourishment, 2019


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