I didn’t care much for citrus as a child.
I knew that this wasn’t a super popular or healthy opinion, and that I would probably never grow up to win the Miss Florida or Miss Orange County crowns, but I still stuck to my guns and avoided oranges, grapefruits, et. al. like the plague.
The irony of this perspective is that one of my most beloved crafting activities with my mother was to make pomanders out of oranges and whole, dried cloves.
The warm, spicy fragrance of the cloves mixed with the sweet, fresh smell of the orange rinds was absolutely intoxicating, and it only got better with time.
Now that I am older and live in Arizona’s Valley of the Sun, I have been forced to make peace with citrus. It’s either that, or holing up in my house for the entire winter season, since the gorgeous, ripe, fragrant fruits are literally everywhere you look. Little juicy orbs, just begging for us to make up and be friends. I can’t resist.
But the relationship is new so I wanted to take it slow, which is why I started with these cupcakes.
And man oh man was I glad that I did: these little gems smell sweet and warm, and the slight tang of the buttermilk, which produces a nice, dense crumb, works beautifully with the tart orange juice and zest. A very happy ending, indeed.
Now I just need to determine if it’s too late for me to work my way into a Miss Florida sash.
For the cupcakes:
- 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 2 c. white sugar, granulated
- 1/2 c. shortening
- 1 c. orange juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 c. buttermilk
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. cream of tartar
- 2 tbsp. orange zest
- 1/2 tsp. salt
For the frosting:
- 2 c. confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 c. shortening, softened
- 1 tbsp. heavy cream
- 1 tsp. clove, ground
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, ground
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, ground
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- orange zest for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 °. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
In a large bowl, cream sugar and shortening. Add eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cream of tartar. Add dry ingredients to sugar mixture, alternating with buttermilk. Once wet and dry ingredients have blended, add in fruit juice and zest, beating until just incorporated into a smooth batter.
Fill each lined cupcake well 3/4 of the way full. Bake cupcakes for approximately 22 minutes, or until the cakes bounce back slightly when pressed with a moist finger. Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.
Meanwhile, combine all frosting ingredients except heavy cream in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Add heavy cream and beat until just incorporated. Frost tops of cooled cupcakes generously with prepared frosting. Sprinkle orange zest on cake tops to finish.
YIELD: 20 frosted cupcakes
Meagan Micozzi bakes with indigenous ingredients to the American Southwest and blogs about her recipes at Scarletta Bakes. She’s a new contributor to Eat Boutique, and took all the photos in this post. Please give her a warm welcome in the comments!