The Dudley series of books by Judy Taylor are fairly new to our home library. I can’t remember where I first heard about these books, but we have quickly fallen in love with these tales about the adorable, mischievous mouse Dudley. Of course, my favorite book in the series centers around food; specifically, Dudley’s efforts to win the cake competition at the Shadyhanger Village Fair. Having never baked a cake before, Dudley bumbles through a series of baking mishaps until he creates a unique carrot cake with strawberry frosting.
I love how this book, and others in the series, demonstrate perseverance and working hard towards a goal. Also, the Dudley books are action packed enough to hold my 4-year old son’s attention and a nice change of pace from his usual super hero/ninja turtle/robot favorites. Although they seem to be out of print now, I found used copies of the Dudley books easily on Amazon and ABE Books.
In honor of Dudley, I developed a recipe for Carrot Cake Muffins with Fresh Strawberry Cream Frosting. The combination of carrot cake and strawberry frosting sounded strange to me at first, but it is a surprisingly nice pairing. I wanted to make little cakes instead of one large one because Dudley’s cake looks cute and cylindrical, like a cupcake. However, I was stumped after several attempts to adapt a carrot cake recipe to cupcakes ended up with little deflated puddles. I adapted this recipe to be denser, like a muffin, with the addition of some whole wheat flour, oil in place of butter, and an extra egg. Despite the muffin-like consistency, I couldn’t forgo the strawberry frosting that Dudley concocts for his cake, so these really ended up being a cupcake/muffin hybrid. Not really a healthy breakfast, but maybe a healthier-than-average dessert? Either way, these little cakes are dense, sweet morsels of yumminess that taste just like summer should!
Carrot Cake Muffins with Fresh Strawberry Cream Frosting
Makes 1 Dozen
Time: 45 minutes
For the Cakes:
1 cup whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrots
4 ounces lower-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5-6 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup finely diced strawberries, about 6 large berries
12 small strawberries for topping (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350ºF and line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the dry ingredients until well-mixed. In a medium mixing bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, oil and vanilla until well blended.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon, just until combined. Fold in the shredded carrots with a flexible spatula just until mixed.
- Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full of batter and bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until batter is just set and no longer jiggly in the center. Cool muffins in the pan for about an hour before removing them and continuing to cool on a rack.
- For the Frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle, mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until creamy and combined. Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar and mix until the sugar is incorporated. Add in the strawberries and continue to beat until the frosting turns pink and strawberries begin to release their juices. Add the remaining 4 cups of powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, allowing the sugar to become incorporated after each addition. If the frosting seems soft, even after all the sugar has been added, chill it in the fridge for 1 hour before using. Once frosting has reached desired thickness, spread about 3 Tablespoons of frosting on each cupcake and top with a small strawberry, if desired.