Sweet root vegetables (betroot, pumpkin, carrots) have been used in cakes since the medieval times, during which time sugar was very rare and very expensive, while carrots, which contain more sugar than any other vegetable, were much easier to come by. The origins of carrot cake are disputed but it is thought to have first arisen from the Picascio family, who are of Italian descent. The popularity of carrot cake was probably revived in Britain because of rationing during the Second World War. Carrot cakes now are commonly available in restaurants and cafeterias classed as a novelty item, and people liked them so much that carrot cake became standard dessert fare. Carrot cake is often referred to as Passion cake in the United States. Carrot cake was voted as the favourite cake in the United Kingdom, according to a survey in the Radio Times in 2011.
200g carrots, coarsely grated
zest of 1 large orange
100 ml light olive oil
50 g butter
2 free-range eggs
200g self-raising flour with 1 tsp baking soda
175g light muscovado sugar
1tsp mixed spice
For the frosting
112 g full-fat cream cheese and 112g soft butter
grated zest of 1 large orange
500g icing sugar
Heat the oven to 180 C, 170 C fan. Place the eggs sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat until well blended, then add shortenings and eggs. Once well mixed add the dry ingredients. Do not overmix. Placethe mixture into in the cupcake tin and spread. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, until firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese, icing sugar and orange zest, and pipe over the cakes. Decorate with matching decoration of your choice like orange zest, chopped nuts or sugarpaste carrots.