Orange Cupcakes with a Zingy and Light Orange Buttercream Icing (Frosting)

I never used to get baking. I’ve always liked to think of myself as the equivalent of a cooking free-spirit, throwing together recipes without really thinking about it, coming up with all kinds of wonderful concoctions at the drop of a hat. 

But… reality bites, and the truth is that I’m a sucker for a good set of rules I can faithfully follow, particularly when they come out with such tantalisingly good results. 

You can’t freestyle baking – you have to understand the science of what’s going on before you can even think about substituting or removing ingredients. 

I’ve had to practice basic recipes on a level I thought I was above – how to make cupcakes that don’t taste like dry rocks, how to make bread you actually want to eat – really learning to bake is a humbling process for someone who thinks they’re a pretty sh*t hot cook. 

The results have been magical. Finally, I’ve got to the point where I can riff on flavours without messing things up. Of all the things that have recently graced my kitchen oven, these orange cupcakes are one of my absolute favourites. 

Cluster of cupcakes
The final product

The sponge recipe is based on the tried and tested formula from Primrose Bakery’s Everyday Cookbook, albeit with an orange-y twist while the orange buttercream is one I’ve fiddled with a lot to make it work.

These orange sponge cupcakes are light, so fluffy it’s like burying your face into a cloud, each bite gently spritzed with orange – both from the sponge itself and the creamy orange buttercream. 

Let’s get down to business. 

Practical Tips for Making These Orange Cupcakes 

Ensure the Ingredients are at Room Temperature Before You Bake

Using ingredients straight out of the fridge is a big no-no in baking and a mistake I used to make all the time. Make sure you’ve let the ingredients (milk, butter and eggs) come up to room temperature before you start baking. 

You can speed up the milk and butter with a cheeky (very short) blast in the microwave. You can place the eggs in warm water (not hot, you don’t want to cook them) for five to ten minutes to speed the warming up process. 

Let the Cupcakes Cool Completely Before Frosting 

Tempting as it can be to get the orange frosting onto the cupcakes as soon as they’re out of the oven, you shouldn’t. Leave the cupcakes to cool on a wire rack and ensure they’re completely cool before you ice them, otherwise the buttercream will melt into the cupcake and make a soggy mess.

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