Celebrating a birthday calls for cupcakes, doesn’t it? In the past, I’ve been treated to entire trays of Hostess orange cupcakes studded with candles, but I decided to bake up my own, somewhat healthier, version for a friend’s recent birthday. As usual, I turned to the venerable Joy of Cooking (1975 version) for a recipe for Orange Cake, and adapted it to cupcakes, as follows.
Since I made mini-cupcakes, I didn’t have room to inject the cream inside, (the element that makes the Hostess product the chemical-filled delight that it is!) but that can be achieved with regular-size cupcakes and a baking syringe if you have the time and inclination. Otherwise, go nuts with the frosting instead (I used a basic cream-cheese frosting with orange and topped each cupcake with colored sugar) for a sweet little bite of cheer.
To note with cupcakes, especially mini ones: watch them as they bake, and test them as soon as you can smell the cake. Burned cupcakes aren’t the life of any party!
Have all ingredients about 70 degrees. Sift before measuring:
3 cups cake flour
¾ tsp. salt
3 ½ tsp. double-acting baking powder
Rind of 1 orange
1 ½ cups sugar
Cream this until light with:
¾ cup butter
Beat in, one at a time:
½ cup orange juice
½ cup water
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Add the flour mixture in 3 parts to the butter mixture, alternately with the liquid. Stir the batter after each addition until smooth. Bake for 12-24 minutes; cool.
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream together 1 package or softened cream cheese and 1 package of powdered sugar. Add 1 Tbsp orange juice and the zest of ½ an orange, to taste. Spread lightly on each cupcake and top with colored sugar.