The Birthday Carrot Cake Fail

July 24, 2012

I like to think of this little space on the internet as somewhere I can be honest. I mean, sure I urge you to put bacon in your cookies, throw rad chicken wing parties, and wax lyrical about roast potatoes. But I also wear my heart on my sleeve when it comes to the people and places I love.

There are times when it’s not all perfect cakes and dainty scones. There are times when things go completely and utterly belly up.

If the title of this post tells you anything, it’s that the lovely little cupcakes you see before you are not primarily what we’re here to talk about today. These sweet little bites of loveliness came about as a result of a massive kitchen failure.

I made Dan a birthday cake a couple of weeks ago. He’s not a massive cake fan (who did I marry?!) and so this was the first time he had actually requested anything. He asked for carrot cake and I was stupidly excited to bake it for him. But it flopped. Miserably.

I imagine you might like to know what went wrong so as to avoid the same disaster that befell me. Well, I made the rookie move of trying to bake it in a different type of pan. The pan had the same volume as the original called for and so, I imagined, the cake would not be affected. How wrong I was. I ended up with an un-cooked cake (despite having tested it before removing it from the oven) that literally collapsed in a soggy mess before my eyes.

Friends, I cried.

I dunno, I just kind of take cake seriously. As someone who adores cake – eating it and making it – it’s hard to see things go wrong, especially when it’s for a special occasion or a special person. I know, of course, that it’s only cake and that it really did not matter, but ahhh, I so wanted that cake to turn out!

A few days later, once I’d picked myself up and dusted myself off, I decided to bake these cupcakes, solely to act as a vehicle for the cream cheese icing I’d already made, because I couldn’t bear for it to be wasted (you know me).

Somehow, I suspect through witchery or magic, I didn’t ruin anything; there were no tears. These are lovely, amazing cupcakes. And so there isn’t really a great moral here. Only a chance for me to say, hi! I’m human and I wreck things!, which kind of feels like a great thing to share.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing
cupcake recipe via Sweetapolita

For each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

For the cupcakes


  • 1 1/2 cups (190 grams/6.5 ounces) self-rising flour
  • 1 1/4 cups (160 grams/5.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks/227 grams/8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (400 grams/14 ounces) white sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (250 ml) milk
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full.
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
  6. Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

For the cream cheese icing


  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 oz/ 113.4g butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups icing sugar


  1. Beat together room temperature cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Add vanilla and icing sugar and continue to beat until smooth.
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