Carrot Cake Muffins with Lemon-Cream Cheese Icing

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

It seems like everyone has a carrot cake recipe that they insist is better than yours. Well, we insist ours is better than anyone’s. Frank begged the recipe off a restaurant called Elephant & Castle that was located around the corner before the neighborhood got fancy and the rents got so high that they had to move. The recipe called for thirteen eggs. “That cracked me up,” Frank says. “Whoever heard of a recipe with thirteen eggs? It made me love the recipe as much as the cake.” Of course, the recipe we give here is much smaller, and calls for only three eggs.

“I discovered muffins here in America. Now there are stores in Paris that make them. But to me, I look at a muffin and it says: ”Welcome to America.”—Jerome

“If my baking soda or powder has gotten lumpy (as it does after a humid summer), I ‘sift’ it through a tea strainer before adding it to the flour.” —Frank

Makes6 big muffins

Cooking Methodbaking



Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBuffet, game day

Recipe Coursedessert, snack

Mealbreakfast, brunch

Taste and Texturespiced, sweet

Type of Dishmuffins


  • Unsalted butter, cold or softened, for smearing in muffin cups
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup applesauce or canned or fresh chopped pineapple
  • 2 cups (½ pound) shredded carrots
  • 2/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 recipe Lemon–Cream Cheese Icing


Position your oven racks so that one is in the center, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Smear six big muffin tin cups with butter.

Whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together in a medium-size bowl.

In a separate, big bowl, whisk the eggs to break up the yolks. Still whisking with one hand, pour in the sugar with the other. Continue whisking for a few minutes, until the eggs begin to pale in color. Whisk in the oil and applesauce. Stir in the carrots and walnuts.

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring gently with a wooden spoon until there’s not a trace of flour visible. This batter will be very runny.

Scoop the batter up with a glass measuring cup or a ladle, and pour it evenly into the six cups of your prepared muffin tin. Wipe off any batter that may have spilled onto the pan.

Place the muffin tin on the center rack in the oven, and bake the muffins for 35–40 minutes, until they begin to darken and a toothpick or small knife inserted deep into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Remove the tin from the oven, and place it on a wire rack. Let the muffins sit for a few minutes in the tin, until they’re cool enough to touch. To remove the muffins, flip the tin upside down and let the muffins fall out onto the wire rack to cool completely.

Just before you’re ready to serve these, spread a nice thick layer of lemon–cream cheese icing on top with a rubber or offset spatula.


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