Sunday, February 13, 2011

Orange Cupcakes

I make cupcakes for everyone at work for their birthday.  They get to request whatever kind they would like.  My most recent request was for orange cupcakes.  The same person requested banana last year, with chocolate icing.  I think he feels like he's challenging me.  Uh, no.

Not my actual cupcakes.  Gorgeous though - no?

The recipe I used was a recipe from the Cake Mix Doctor.  Have you used her cookbook?  If not, use it.  Just trust me.  I bought her original cookbook from one of my employees at the Gap probably ten years ago, pretty much just to buy something so she would shut up.  I cannot even count how many times I have used that book over the years.  It's probably my favorite cookbook, other than the one my mom made with her recipes.  Try these cupcakes (or as a cake).  It's SO worth it.  And don't be scared that it seems like a lot of work with the fresh oranges, etc.  You could easily substitute the freshly squeezed juice with orange juice from the carton.

Vegetable oil spray, for misting the pans

Flour, for dusting the pans
1 large orange
About 1 cup orange juice from a carton
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix
1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix
½ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly mist three 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable oil spray, then dust them with flour. Shake out the excess flour and set the pans aside.

2. Rinse the orange and pat it dry with paper towels. Grate enough zest to measure 2 to 3 teaspoons. Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into a small bowl; you will have about ½ cup of juice. Add enough orange juice from a carton to the fresh orange juice to measure 1 1/8 cups.

3. Place the cake mix, pudding mix, oil, vanilla, eggs, and orange juice and orange zest in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are moistened, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the batter until well combined and smooth, about 1½ minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again if needed. Divide the cake batter evenly among the 3 prepared cake pans, about 1¾ cups of batter per pan, smoothing the tops with the rubber spatula. Place the cake pans in the oven. If your oven is not large enough to hold 3 pans on one rack, place 2 pans on that rack and one in the center of the rack above.

4. Bake the cake layers until the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a finger, 18 to 20 minutes. The cake layer on the higher rack may bake faster so test it for doneness first. Transfer the cake pans to wire racks and let the cake layers cool for 5 minutes. Run a long, sharp knife around the edge of each cake layer and give the pans a good shake to loosen the cakes. Invert each layer onto a wire rack, then invert it again onto another wire rack so that the cakes are right side up. Let the layers cool to room temperature, 15 minutes longer.  (To bake cupcakes, I usually start my timer at 15 minutes and test.)

5. Make the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting.

6. To assemble the cake, transfer one layer, right side up, to a serving platter. Spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer of cake, right side up, on top of the first and frost the top. Repeat this process with the third layer. Use the remaining frosting to frost the side of the cake, working with smooth, clean strokes. Arrange fresh orange slices around the base of the cake, or place candy gum drop orange slices on top of the cake.
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

*Note* I double this recipe.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 to 3 teaspoons fresh orange juice
3¾ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Place the butter and cream cheese in a medium-size bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine. Add the orange zest, 2 teaspoons of the orange juice, and the confectioners’ sugar, a bit at a time, beating with the mixer on low speed until the confectioners’ sugar is well incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the frosting until fluffy, 1 minute longer. Add up to 1 teaspoon more orange juice if the frosting seems too stiff. Use the frosting at once.

How do you zest an orange?  Use this:

Don't have one?  Get one.  I'm sure they're available at places other than Williams-Sonoma and probably for less than $14.95.  Buy a good one, because it will last.  You will use it a lot - zesting, freshly grated cheese, grated chocolate, etc.  I use mine pretty much weekly.  But use it with caution so you don't zest your fingers.  It's razor sharp.  Just trust me.


chandra said...

Thank you for posting this recipe! My husband loves orange cake, his mom always made it for his birthday. She just squeezed the juice of an orange into yellow cake mix and a basic powder sugar frosting. This recipe sounds much yummier! I think I may make him orange cupcakes for valentines day now.

Sarah said...

Oh, YUM! I always request orange cake for my birthdays :) SO delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe - now I can make them whenever I want! :D

Val said...

Yum, I need to make this soon. Love your blog.