Saturday, 26 July 2008

Market Morning Cupcakes

I'm starting to find that Sunday afternoon baking is becoming quite the tradition in my kitchen. I'm enjoying it though. This particular weekend, DD and I were both feeling a little under the weather, so Sunday morning was spent curled up in bed watching Will and Grace and reading my new book The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook by Jennifer Graham.

After maybe three episodes and three quarters of the book I started to feel like baking. There are so many recipes in the book I want to try, but the one that called to me that Sunday were the Market Morning Cupcakes. They are an orange and poppy seed cake with an orange juice icing, and they are beautifully light and easy to eat.

I love orange and poppy seed cakes but I've never made one myself before. These cakes are really easy, simply soak the poppyseeds in some milk for at least half an hour, make the cake as you normally would, adding orange zest to the butter at the beginning and the poppy seeds in with the milk at the end.

I halved the recipe. I have been baking a bit lately and I'm trying to reduce the amount of cupcake temptation that remains after the baking has been done so I'm halving/thirding recipes left right and centre and taking them to work for morning teas, but there are still an awful lot of cakes around. This particular halved mix made one 12 hole tray of small cupcakes and one 12 hold tray of muffin-sized cupcakes. There was a small amount of mixture leftover, so I might have been able to scrap another two muffin-sized cupcakes out of it. I switched to the muffin sized cupcake tray because it was late at night when these were ready to go into the oven (I had to wait for the roast dinner to be done) and I've only got one small cupcake tray. When I had filled it once and saw the huge amount of mixture left I didn't want to be spending the next two hours repeatedly baking the small tray, so I switched to the bigger one.

Last week I bought an ice cream scoop to assist with my cupcake liner filling. It was much easier than the two spoon approach even if you needed to make sure you only filled the scoop halfway. When I switched to the muffin tray and I could use a full scoop, I became a convert - the ice cream scoop is definately the easiest way to fill a muffin liner. It was so quick!

I had two small issues with my interpretation of the recipe. First was pure laziness in that I didn't grate the orange zest which meant I did have long orange ribbons swirling through my batter. Luckily enough, they tended to get caught around the paddle of the mixer and I could remove a majority of them before I filled the pans. You couldn't notice them in the baked product though. The second was the sheer amount of poppy seeds you needed. When I poured out my milk and poppy seed combination I left half the poppy seeds behind in the measuring jug. When I checked the batter, it had a perfectly suitable amount of poppy seeds, if not already too many. I left the rest out.

My cupcakes took about 25 minutes rather than the 18 minutes in the book, I turned my oven up to 180 degrees for the second batch as well.

They are amazing cupcakes. I love them very much. They are light and fluffy and not too sweet. I didn't ice them. I love orange and poppy seed cake by itself and I felt it didn't need icing. Jennifer says in her intro that she loves to sit down with this cake and a cup of Earl Grey after her market setup early in the morning. I thought this was a great idea, so I copied it and enjoyed my cupcakes and a cup of Australian Breakfast tea while at work early in the morning.

Market Morning Cupcakes
from Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook by Jennifer Graham

(This is the recipe with full quantities. It makes 24 loaf cakes or 30 regular cupcakes)

2/3 cup poppy seeds
1 1/4 cups milk
3 3/4 cups plain flour
2 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
300g softened unsalted butter
zest of two oranges
2 1/2 cups white sugar
5 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Soak the poppy seeds in the milk for at least half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Lightly grease or line your loaf or cupcake tins.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 minutes. Add the orange zest and beat for a 1 minute. Add the sugar a third at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition. After the last addition, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar has almost dissolved.

Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

Add a third of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Add half of the milk and poppy seed mixture and beat until combined. Repeat the process. Add the remaining third of the flour mixture and beat until thoroughly combined; do not overbeat as this will toughen the mixture.

Spoon mixture into the tins, filling each about three quarters full. Bake for 18 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes in trays before turning out onto a cooling rack.

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