Sunday, 27 March 2011

Orange cupcakes

I’ve not baked with orange before because virtually every orange cake recipe you see is for chocolate orange – a combination I hate.
I wish I liked it; the concept of peeling and then breaking a Terry’s chocolate orange into segments always seems such a nice way to eat chocolate, but – alas – not for me.

The other problem I have with a lot of citrus baking (this post won’t be entirely about my hang ups – honest!) is zest.
I can be quite happily enjoying a citrussy cake when the zest hits me. There’s something about the stringy texture, like a worm of peel, that is so unpleasant in my mouth. Yuck. So, as you may have gathered, I left the zest out of these cupcakes but compromised by using an orange juice with “bits” in it. “Bits” are pulp rather than zest so acceptable!

These are fragrant and delicious cupcakes; the orange adds moisture to the sponge but doesn’t make it heavy.
I loved the purity and simplicity of the flavour – both sponge and buttercream are orange through and through; it’s surprising for your taste buds because it feels like you’re eating a drink!

Using fresh orange juice gave these a fresh and zingy taste. For my tastebuds, orange blossom water or orange extract can sometimes be too much so I really appreciated the naturalness of the flavour here. On first bite it seems that the flavour is barely there but then it bursts with a fruity explosion in your mouth.

These are cakes that reward you with a wonderful burst of aroma every time you take the lid off their storage container. Sunshine cupcakes for a lovely sunny day!


For the sponge:

120g unsalted butter, at room temperature
145g caster sugar
2 eggs
185g self raising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
125ml fresh orange juice – as I didn’t use the zest, I chose an orange juice with “bits” in it (Tropicana – I like this make as it’s fruity but not overly sweet)
Optional: 3 tablespoons grated orange zest

For the buttercream:

120g unsalted butter, at room temperature
180g icing sugar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (start with 2 and add more if the mix needs it)


Preheat the oven to 180˚C/fan oven 160˚C/350˚F/Gas mark 4.

Line a 12 hole cupcake pan with paper cases.

Start by making the sponges: beat together the butter and sugar until pale, light and whippy. It will take quite a while (depending on the softness of the butter) but don’t skimp as this is the stage that makes the sponge light and airy. I will often beat for 10 minutes or more.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Fold in the flour and vanilla extract.

Stir in the orange juice and, if using, the grated zest.

Spoon into the paper cases and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the sponge comes out clean. Mine took 20 minutes. Don’t panic that they look pale – the sponge is pale and won’t turn golden on baking.

Place the tray on a wire rack and, as soon as you can safely do so, remove the cakes from the tin – leaving them to sit in the hot metal tin means that they carry on cooking and can become less fluffy.

Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

Now make the buttercream: place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined and light. Add more orange juice until you reach a soft but spreadable buttercream consistency.

Spread or pipe over the cupcakes.

Decorate as desired – I used sugar flowers.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.



decocinasytacones said...

They are lovely and I can imagine the flavour, I´m fond of oranges.
Love from Spain

C said...

They're beautiful - pale and delicate! I love it when you lift the lid of a storage box and the scent of the baked goodies within hits you - delicious!

I know what you mean about the zest but I still use it anyway! I do tend to use a microplane grater, so perhaps that helps too? I have to be in the right mood for chocolate orange flavours - sometimes they just seem too artificial.

The Glamorous Gourmet said...

They look so cheery and delicious - YUM!

LandGirl1980 said...


Victoria said...

perfect for the beginning of spring!!! soo yummy and delicate looking!!

Rhyleysgranny said...

They look so pretty and delicate. Like a summer's day.

Katie said...

These looks so moist and fresh. Perfect for spring.

I don't like the fake flavour of orange either. Can't stand Chocolate Oranges but I love the flavour of fresh orange combined with chocolate.

Maggie said...

They look spring like and very fresh. Love the piping.

thelittleloaf said...

What a perfect sunshine recipe, just in time for Spring! I'm guessing you could do these with lemon or lime too, delicious.

Katie Mar said...

how pretty and spring-like!
i love orange anything, so these look suppperrr tasty!!
it's hard to find moist cupcakes even in bakeries, but yours look perfectly moist!
yummy! cute sugar flowers, too!

Patty O. said...

I can't wait to try these! I'm not a big chocolate and orange fan, either, so these are perfect! And so, so pretty.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness someone who feels about zest the same way i do.
Anything with peel in it actually, I just don't (can't) do.

These look lovely, and I love the sugared flowers you've used. They bring the cake to life.

I find dark chocolate and orange is actually quite delish. But so many choc-orange combinations are awful.

Lovely cakes cc!!


Gloria said...

Look absolutely perfect and yummy, lovely! gloria

I heart cupcakes said...

These look fabulous!! And I love the idea of using orange juice with bits in them!

Baking Addict said...

The look so beautiful. I love citrusy fruits so this is right up my alley :)

Pauline said...

These look so spring like but ultimately edible , aha , chomp !
Strangely enough your comment about chocolate orange rings true too; it is the most popular post on my web page but I made it for my hubby not for me.
I am a lemon and lime fan and I'm afraid I will have to go with Boris on this, your lemon drizzle wins 99%. I have to save 1% for orange cup cakes and other new ones to try ;-)

Cakelaw said...

Awww, these are so pretty. I am glad that these have convinced you that some citrus baking can be very good indeed.

mr. pineapple man said...

looks delicious and beautiful! yumyum!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

I'm not usually particularly wowed by cupcakes, but these really are cute! Recipe sounds good, and my guess would be that you're not alone re zest.

the princess said...

these look great, i cant wait to make them!

Jacqueline said...

They look so pretty. I especially like the cut-through photo. Give me a spoon :D

Hazel said...

So cute with the daisies on top! I believe simplicity is sometimes best. Definitely in this cupcake. Love that the orange added moisture too!

coco cooks said...

Ive been AWOL here for a while.Forgive me. I love the simplicity of a pure orange flavor and these look gorgeous!Perfect for spring.

cora said...

Absolutely hate zest too. I find it has a slightly bitter taste. Who wants skins anyway. I really believe some crazed chef came up with the idea just so he could do something different. I have been looking for a cupcake recipe. My grand daughter and I are having a cupcake war going on this summer. I lost the first with my smore's cupcakes. which I actually thought were quite good. My youngest grandson devoured them so I guess I know which one he liked.

Cakefairyblog said...

Delicious. I am going to make these for my boyfriends birthday - Thanks for the recipe!

Cakelover2804 said...

These are delish! Have baked them several times. However, I always find the cases come away (same cases I always use and never have a problem). Think maybe they're just too moist?! I need to stop it happening! Help!

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Cakelover

Usually, if the case comes away it is because the sponge is slightly overbaked. Try taking them out a minute or two earlier - they carry on cooking due to the heat retained by the pan.
If that fails, it may be the orange is making the sponge wet.

Hope this helps

Happy baking