Recipe: Orange and Lavender Cupcakes.

Sparkling – even without any sunlight

Honestly. All that talk about the heat yesterday, and today you would think it was autumn. Grey skies, wind, spots of rain – no longer is it Ice Cream weather; more like time to snuggle in bed.

Not that I’m complaining, really. For one thing, I can now trot freely without fear of blistering sunburn. For another I can also get back to baking.

I have new bits and bobs to play with, you see. A couple of weeks ago I had a mosey on the Steenbergs Organic website and ordered some exciting things. The postman handed them over on Thursday: a jar of Lavender Sugar (ooh!), another of Rose Sugar (aah!), and a bottle of Orange Extract (yay!).

All three are organic, while the sugars are also Fairtrade (as per the Yorkshire-based company’s worthy credentials). You know what that means, don’t you Ogglers?

A session of GUILT-FREE HOGGING.

Over the weekend I craved something zingy and fragrant, and have come up with a new and tasty recipe. It’s a bit of a bastardisation: an All-in-One Sponge crossed with Lavender Cake and a Lemon (or Orange) Drizzle Loaf to boot.

As cupcakes go it’s extremely easy to make and, frankly – if I do say so myself – the results were blooming gorgeous.

The topping – like that of a drizzle cake – was crunchy and moist and would (I think) be a great way to jazz up any old sponge that needed it. The cakes themselves were light and flavoursome, and as they cooked the smell in the house was amazing.

Now, if you ask me, Ogglers, Lavender is a flavour that is wrongly underused. Think of how much we grow in this country, most of it wasted on bath oils and pot pourri. If you haven’t tried it in cakes already, I urge you to change your ways.

Sure, if overdone it can taste a little bit soapy. But get the balance right and it’s deliriously moreish: the ultimate accompaniment to summer, rain or shine (and great with a wee splash of orange).

Better still, Lavender even has calming and antiseptic properties.

So don’t get glum about the weird summer weather. Bake these cakes, inhale, and let the rain fall where it may.

Orange and Lavender Cupcakes (makes 12)

Ingredients:

Sponge:

  • 2 eggs
  • 100g plain flour (you can use self-raising instead if you want – just reduce the baking powder to 1 tsp)
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 100g softened butter (or butter substitute)
  • 70g lavender sugar
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp orange extract

Drizzle Topping:

  • 20g lavender sugar
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 40ml hot water
  • 1tsp orange extract

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees (gas mark 3)
  2. Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl
  3. Add the rest of the sponge ingredients and whisk on a medium speed for 2-3 minutes until everything is incorporated and the mixture looks light and airy
  4. Spoon equally into 12 cupcake cases
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cakes are cooked through and golden
  6. Move them on to a wire rack
  7. As the cupcakes cool, prepare your icing in a separate bowl: heat the water (the kettle is probably quickest) and pour it on to the two types of sugar. Add the orange extract and stir until the sugar is dissolved
  8. While the cakes are still warm, lightly prick the tops with a fork and pour your icing over them, allowing it to soak in (using the back of a spoon to assist if need be). Warning: this bit can be messy…
  9. When each one is nice and moist, EAT – whether warm with a blob of creme fraiche, or cooled and without any ceremony
  10. Bequeath me your riches as thanks

Simples.

Happy Hogging, folks!

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