Orange blossom cupcakes


When I was growing up cupcakes were called patty cakes and strictly for children’s birthday parties. Now it seems as if the formerly humble patty cake is everywhere, and dressed up in all manner of adornments. No matter if they have a new name and fancy schmancy decoration, they are still a universal favourite. These are just  a little more ‘grown-up’ in their flavour, with the addition of lots of orange zest and a touch of limoncello*. I like a not-too-sweet finish and also think less is more where icing is concerned, so the cream cheese based topping here fits the bill, for me at least.

Makes 12 (but you can easily double the recipe)

140g soft butter
180g castor sugar
zest of 1 large orange
1 teaspoon or vanilla extract
1 tablespoon limoncello
2 eggs
185 g self raisiing flour
125 ml milk

120g cream cheese
about 1 teaspoon orange juice
200g icing sugar

Beat the butter, orange zest and sugar together until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating lightly after each egg is added. Gradually add the flour and milk and then stir in the limoncello. The batter should be pale and smooth and smell marvellous.

Drop spoonfuls into a paper lined, 12 hole cake tin and then bake in the oven for around 20 – 25 minutes or until golden. The cakes should spring back when lightly pressed. The cakes need to be completely cooled before icing.

To make the icing beat the cream cheese, orange juice and icing sugar together until smooth. You can let your imagination run wild with decorations or just serve them simply iced. I like lightly toasted coconut or tiny thyme flowers.

* Limoncello is an lemon flavoured liqueur from southern Italy. Substitue orange juice or lemon juice if you can’t find it.