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. 

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.

Orange Cupcakes With a Light & Creamy Orange Buttercream Recipe
Yield: Makes 12 cupcakes

Orange Cupcakes With a Light & Creamy Orange Buttercream Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

This orange cupcake recipe pairs zesty flavours with the lightest, fluffiest sponge and orange buttercream... with delicious results.


  • 110 g unsalted butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 125g plain flour
  • 90ml whole or semi-skimmed milk
  • 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • Grated zest of 1 orange

For the Orange Buttercream

  • 500g icing sugar
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • Grated Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • Orange colouring (optional)


    1. Start by heating the oven to 160℃ (fan) / 180℃ (without fan).
    2. Beat the butter and sugar together for around five minutes (using an electric mixer) until they’re pale and creamy.
    3. Add one egg and beat for around a minute until well incorporated, add the second egg and beat thoroughly too.
    4. Combine the milk and orange juice in a jug.
    5. Sift the flours into a bowl and mix in the orange zest
    6. Add ⅓ of the liquids, beat until incorporated, then add ⅓ of the flour, beat again, repeating the process until both have been used up.
    7. Fill the cupcake cases to ⅔ full and place into the oven.
    8. Bake for around 25 minutes until they take on a light golden colour.
      Remove from the oven and cool on wire racks.
    9. In the meantime, start preparing the buttercream. Cream the butter and half the sugar together until smooth.
    10. Add half of the lemon juice, the lemon zest and a couple of spoons of icing sugar, beat well to combine.
    11. Add the remaining lemon juice, the orange colouring (if you’re using) and the rest of the icing sugar. Beat well to combine.
    12. Add the milk, a little bit at a time, until you achieve the desired consistency (you may not need all the milk, particularly if you’re not going to pipe the icing).
    13. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, apply the orange buttercream frosting, either using a wet palette knife (or a normal knife will do), or by piping using a piping kit.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 567Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 96mgSodium: 170mgCarbohydrates: 83gFiber: 1gSugar: 63gProtein: 4g

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