Summer Saraf’s “Kitchen Sink” Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Back in March, the Covid-19 pandemic led to a statewide shutdown and I work at a business that was deemed essential. We’re a small group of twelve (and some of us were even working from home) and within that first month there was a birthday. While we would normally order a cake from Wegmans, their bakery was closed for orders. I’ve always enjoyed baking, and I offered to make some cupcakes so that the first quarantine birthday wouldn’t have to be quite so sad.

Having only been to the grocery store once since shutdown, and not anticipating a lot of “fun” baking projects at the time, I ended up making a lot of substitutions for those chocolate cupcakes. They turned out very chocolatey and excellent, and there were no complaints besides the chilly weather while we ate cupcakes ten feet apart and bundled up outside in late March.

Here we are now, half a year later, and while the Wegmans bakery is open again, I’ve been enjoying the “excuse” to bake cupcakes. We celebrated another coworker’s birthday today (October 16), and he had raved about the carrot cake I had previously made. With that in mind, and a lot of carrots in the fridge, I decided to turn the cake recipe into cupcakes.

I made the batter with my usual adjustments and then baked four test cupcakes all half-filled and with a standard cupcake liner, no liner, no-stick spray and no liner, and a parchment paper muffin-esque liner. The cake bakes for 40-50 minutes, so I let the cupcakes go for 15, but they were still a little underdone. They were fully baked after 20 minutes, but the half-filled tins didn’t rise enough to look good. With this in mind, the final cupcakes were filled 2/3 of the way and baked for 22 minutes to accommodate the extra batter volume.

Knowing that I would likely also enter these for the competition, I decided to make some candied carrot curls to give the cupcakes a little extra flair. It was a success, but now I have to contend with accusations of favoritism among the coworkers. It’s fine now though, I told them about the contest and they think the solution is for you to hold a monthly cupcake competition—I’m sure you all won’t mind.

Thank you for holding your annual (it’s fine, they’ll get over it) cupcake contest to support mental health in the community. Mental health initiatives are so important, especially in college towns, and everything is better with cupcakes.

—By Summer Saraf