Whole wheat carrot-orange cake and muffins

No, you don’t have to be Bugs Bunny to fall in love with carrots. Trust me it is not all that difficult. Fortunately, carrots have never been on my ‘hate list’ and I’d never really given a thought to using carrots creatively or in baking until a young mother asked me if there was anyway I could come up with a recipe for a cake or muffins using carrots. I know there’s a popular carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (infused with orange zest) recipe on the www but then, I didn’t want to do the usual (yes, that’s the stubborn Capricorn nature showing up again!). So my mind began working overtime with permutations and combination of  ingredients that I could use in a healthy carrot cake. I didn’t want the cake to taste too ‘carroty’ so I grated in some fresh orange zest into the batter and this was a brilliant move – the cake smelt of oranges when it was out of the oven and when we bit into it, it left this refreshing, citrusy after-taste that made you want to reach out for another slice. 
2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of baking powder
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1 cup of carrots, grated
1 1/2 tsp of freshly grated orange zest
1/2 cup of curd, made from skim milk
1 cup of sugar, I used white sugar for this one because I wanted the cake to look orange and not brown
2 tbsp of walnuts, crushed – for topping
2 tbsp of watermelon seeds – for topping
Sift the whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder and a pinch of salt together. Keep this aside
In a bowl, combine the sugar, oil, curd and orange zest; mix all this well until it has formed a smooth paste. Now add the flour mixture to this and quickly stir to avoid any lumps. Add the grated carrots to this and fold them into the batter. Pour the batter into a greased, lined baking tin and sprinkle the walnuts on top. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees C for about 30-35 minutes until it is done. I had some left-over batter, as the cake mould I used was small, so I spooned them into a greased muffin tray and sprinkled watermelon seeds on them. I baked these for 20 minutes at the same temperature. Serve warm.
* If you don’t have fresh orange zest, you can always use the store-bought one but the flavours are bound to be different. 
* For a different flavour, skip the orange and add some cinnamon powder to the batter. 
* Throw in a spoonful or two of raisins or chopped nuts to give the cake a different texture.

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