Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Orange Dreamsicle Cupcakes

Wow.  I had really big plans for summer.  One of my favorite things to make is cupcakes for our family 4th of July party … and I never got to do that!  Why, you ask?  Because I got to take 2 trips to the hospital and pretty much MISSED SUMMER!  Summer is my absolute favorite time and I missed it!!  SIGH.  But the good news is that I'm pretty much put back together and with the cool fall weather I'm having baking attacks.

My darling hubby has been wishing for orange cupcakes.  I planned on making them for the 4th of July but … see above.  Hubby can't eat anything with citrus juice in it because the acid blisters his mouth.  It broke my heart a few months ago when he bought some orange Tic Tacs because he said he just misses the orange flavor.  We've found that when the acid is tamed with dairy ingredients and/or cooked, he can safely eat citrus.

Originally, I was going to take my tried and true lemon cupcake recipe and just switch out the lemon for orange.  But I really wanted to be sure of the recipe because - you know, how sad would it be if I made these cupcakes for him and they turned out to be a flop?   My concern with adapting my lemon cupcake recipe is that I don't know if the flavor from oranges is as strong as from lemons.

During my vacay at the hospital this summer, I saw a recipe for orange cupcakes in the Food Network Magazine and decided to try that, so my recipe is adapted from the May 2014 issue "Orange Cream Cupcakes".
Liine cupcake tins with paper cups
Line cupcake tins with paper cups
To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line your cupcake/ muffin pan with 12 liners.  Then  assemble your ingredients and whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  (I always line more than called for because it's easier to have the liners ready if I happen to have more batter.)

Assemble all ingredients
Assemble your ingredients

Don't you love my fancy-schmancy pressed glass bowl holding my eggs?  Lately, I've started using a lot of my grandmothers' glassware, and the Pyrex and Fire King pieces I've collected over the years.  We've had the Pyrex Friendship Cinderella bowls for ages, but I've never used them because I thought they looked a bit cumbersome with those handles … WRONG.  I might be the last person on earth to "get it" but those aren't handles!  They're for POURING!  (Yes, I feel dumb.)  

I discovered an easy, low-stress way to melt butter.  I put my butter into one of my Pyrex bowls (that's what's in the cute little bowl with the birds on it) and microwaved it on DEFROST.  The defrost setting on my microwave asks for the weight and I just set it for .5 lbs and it slowly melted the butter without lots of spattering.  Of course, all microwaves heat differently so you need to watch the butter in your own oven so it doesn't burn or spatter.

Beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl (aka my Kitchen Aid bowl) with a mixer at a medium high speed until it's light and fluffy then reduce the speed and S-L-O-W-L-Y beat in the melted butter - you don't want to end up with scrambled eggs!  My mixer has a shield to help keep me from making an excessive mess and the pouring handle on the Pyrex bowl works perfectly with it!

SLOWLY pour melted butter into egg and sugar mixture
SLOWLY pour melted butter into egg and sugar mixture

Then add the orange zest and vanilla.  While I'm not a fan of "fake" ingredients, I used clear vanilla because I didn't want to darken the color of the cake with real vanilla.  As it turned out, the cake was the color of a yellow cake.  I also found that the zest of one orange came out to be about 1 tsp.  *I was careful to use organic oranges because I believe they are sprayed with chemicals and I doubt all the washing in the world would get it all off.

I found that the zest of one orange was about 1 tsp
I found that the zest of one orange was about 1 tsp

Finally, beat in the flour mixture in 2 additions - pour about half in then add the milk - then pour the rest of the flour in.  Beat this until it is just combined - don't over mix.

Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full
Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full

Fill the cupcake cups about 2/3 full and bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the center  comes out clean - about 18 minutes.  Let the cupcakes cool for 5 minutes and then remove them to your wire rack to finish cooling.  (As it turned out, the recipe made exactly 12 cupcakes.)

Bake about 18 minutes at 350 degrees, cool in pan for 5 minutes, then finish cooling on wire rack
Bake about 18 minutes at 350 degrees, cool in pan for 5 minutes, then finish cooling on wire rack
Next …. The orange frosting and the grand finale!

Here's the recipe - adapted from Food Network Magazine May 2014


1 1/2 C Flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs at room temperature
2/3 C sugar
12 Tbls butter, melted
2 tsp finely grated orange zest (I prefer organic)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C milk

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