So I was chatting with the BF (Someone asked why I call him BF. Boyfriend makes me sound about 16. Partner makes me sound well old. And quite frankly I totes love abbreviations) and having a good old moan that I didn’t have a clue what to do for this weeks bake. I needed some inspiration, I knew I wanted to use some gorgeous seasonal produce. The BF lives on the door step of Borough market in London so on Saturday morning we took a stroll down to see what I could use. I always prefer getting my produce from markets, if I’m at home in the Midlands, Bridgenorth in Shropshire has the most wonderful Saturday market full of stalls selling vibrant, fresh and still dirty from the ground veggies. The eggs are always tastier and bigger too than usual supermarket fare. Plus you get the added smugness of knowing your money is supporting someone local than lining the pockets of Tesco.
I scoured the fruit and veg stands and spotted loads of different things I could use from the vibrant bright pink rhubarb to exotic dragon fruit. I decided on some plump, vibrant and bang in season blood oranges from a huge fruit and veg stall where I also got my organic free range eggs. I love the jewelled interior colour of blood oranges and the tangy sweetness of the flesh, I knew they would be perfect. As mentioned last week, I’ve been trying to cut out as much refined sugar from my diet as possible so I also picked up some raw organic Spanish Cherry honey from a lovely little stall with a very helpful vendor called From Field And Flower. It would be the perfect substitute for the refined sugar and would add extra depth of flavour. He also suggested some flour, a ’00’ white Italian flour which had amazing packaging. ’00’ is super fine and amazing for giving a light and fluffy texture to cakes, a bit more expensive than normal plain flour but worth it for a special bake. I also picked up my dairy, some organic salted butter and fresh cows yogurt which came in dinky little glass jars. I wanted to use yogurt in my cake mix as it keeps it really moist and a bit denser than if I was to use milk. I came across a rather pungent smelling French cheese stall, Une Normande A Londres where I purchased some rich soft cheese, it had a taste that was much stronger than supermarket versions, I would have to make sure I add enough sweetness to balance out the tanginess of the cream cheese. As we were about to leave I saw a stall selling chocolate by the huge chunk which looked great, I bought a big chunk of 77%, it would be the perfect partner for the blood oranges. I had only wandered down to pick up the main ingredient for my bakes and yet came away having spent a small fortune on everything I needed! Shopping done I wandered back to the BF’s flat to make some major kitchen mess.
The method used to produce these cupcakes is not too dissimilar to a normal sponge cake, the beating of the honey into the butter gives a gorgeous glossy mixture. Make sure you beat your eggs in well as you can get some real air and volume into your sponge at this point. Using raw honey is a great alternative with health benefits (sure, I know its still a form of sugar but mighty less damaging), raw honey is best and you really get what you pay for with honey. Buy the best you can afford. The blood oranges offer a subtle and fragrant taste, I also made some caramelised blood orange slices to decorate which add a splash of colour along with some shavings of chocolate. Due to the richness of the cream cheese, this is pretty tangy cream cheese frosting which I love but may not be to everyone’s taste but if you are interested in doing the same, the cheese is called Brillat Savarin Affine. You can substitute for Philidelphia no problem.
Blood orange, bitter chocolate and honey cupcakes
250g slightly salted butter, softened
- 180ml honey
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- Zest of 2 blood oranges
- 240g plain flour (preferably ’00’)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp bicarb of soda
- 160ml full fat yogurt
- 100g dark chocolate, chopped
Cream cheese icing
- 250g full fat soft cheese
- 125g slightly salted butter
- 100ml honey
- 300g icing sugar
- Zest of 3 blood oranges
- Pre heat your oven to 160 degrees with the shelf in the middle of the oven. Line your muffin tray with cupcake liners.
- Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth and glossy. Beat in the eggs one at a time for a couple of minutes per egg, add the zest with the final egg.
- In a separate bowl, sift together your flour, baking powder and bicarb. Add to the mix along with the yogurt and fold in until just incorporated. Add your chocolate chips and briefly mix.
- Using a tablespoon, dollop even portions into each muffin liner until around three-quarters full. Pop in the oven for around 12 minutes, they should be golden brown and firm to the touch. Leave to cool.
- To make your icing, make sure your cheese is cold and your butter soft, beat together very thoroughly. Add your honey. It may curdle but once you start to add the icing sugar it will stabilise again. Add the orange zest. Slowly sift in the icing sugar until desired sweetness achieved. Dollop on top of your cooled buns.
- If you want to make the caramelized oranges, add 1 mug of water and 1/2 mug granulated sugar to a deep frying pan or skillet. Slice two oranges into 1cm slices. Add flat to the pan and bring to the boil. Simmer the oranges for 30 minutes until the syrup has reduced right down, turning occasionally. Remove from the pan and pop on a cooling rack until cool. Slice up and add to your cakes.