Cooking with Kata — Spontaneous carrot cupcakes


Katarina Rothhorn/NW

CARROT FLOWERS — A great way to decorate your carrot cake are with sliced raw carrots. For a sweeter design, you can also boil some carrots in a sugar syrup and bake them to make candied carrots.

Katarina Rothhorn and Hayden Bruzewski

Picture this: my friend and I sitting under a tree on the academic mall, trying to do homework while enjoying one of the last sunny days of the year. 

Hayden (friend) says, “Dining hall had carrot cake the other day. It actually didn’t suck.”

“My mom has the best carrot cake recipe ever,” I reply.

Hayden asks, “Want to make it?”

We needed pineapple and various other ingredients, so we made a mad dash to the Marquette Food Co-op (where you can buy tiny bags of spices) in my cool yellow truck, which I lovingly named Alvin. 

Having secured the goods, and some random crushed tomatoes that were on sale (four for five dollars!), we went to my apartment and began assembling cupcakes worthy of the gods. 

In less than two hours, we went from procrastinating doing our homework to procrastinating while eating cupcakes. Be sure to give these a try, and for more time spent not doing schoolwork, try making little carrot flowers as I did.


Kata’s Mom’s Best Carrot Cake Ever 


2 cups all-purpose flour OR 1 ½ cups gluten-free flour + ½ cup almond flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon nutmeg

½ cup drained, crushed pineapple (canned, in unsweetened juice)

¼ cup raisins

½ cup pecan or walnut pieces 

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup coconut oil or canola oil

¾ cup applesauce

2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

2 cups finely shredded carrots (about 4)


Frosting Ingredients: (double if making a layered cake)

8 ounces of cream cheese, softened

¼ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon lemon extract



Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F) and grease a 10-inch Bundt pan OR 8- by 4-inch loaf pans OR get 24 (we actually ended up making 27) cupcake liners out.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a bowl. Set aside. 

In a food processor, pulse the pineapple, raisins, nuts and ¾ cup of sugar until minced. Do not over-process or puree. Set aside. 

In a mixer, combine the remaining ¼ cup sugar, eggs, brown sugar, oil, applesauce, vanilla and minced pineapple-nut mixture. Beat until well combined. Lower the speed and add dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in shredded carrots. 

Pour into prepared pans and bake until the top is golden brown — about 50-60 minutes in a Bundt pan, 45 minutes for loaves and 20-25 minutes for cupcakes. Cool before frosting. 

Beat all frosting ingredients together using an electric mixer until very smooth and light. Frost cake and serve cool or chilled. 

This recipe is not too sweet, is pleasantly complex and is the perfect dessert to make with a friend on a Tuesday afternoon. Embrace the spontaneity and give this carrot cake a try.