As I tasted the blood orange icing I had prepared for my little cupcakes yesterday, I swear that the flavour was so good and so reminiscent of sherbet, I was transported right back to my childhood in the 1960s.
Remember those old fashioned sweets called Sherbies? Or Sherbet Fountains with the licorice straw? And let's not forget the little parchment bags filled with sherbet. From memory, they had a tiny plastic spoon tied around the top. I can still picture them, and taste the deliciously tangy powder, but can't recall the name of the product.
There was a milk bar (a.k.a candy store/lolly shop) about 100 paces from my primary school, and my little friends and I kept the Greek store owner bankrolled (and busy), I'm sure of it. He had a great assortment of lollies under the glass counter in his store - the sherbet ones being among them.
Sherbet is usually made from icing sugar and citric acid, with a small amount of bicarb and jelly crystals. The combination creates what the CSIRO refers to as an 'acid base reaction' in your mouth. When my son and daughter were small, they made sherbet regularly and would often challenge their tastebuds by adding more and more citric acid. Brave little souls.
But now, back to the cupcakes. I haven't yet shared the news with you, but Peter and I have been angelic with our eating for the last several months. He has lost fifteen kilograms and I have managed to lose fourteen. Woo hoo, I know! It's been a huge effort, but it has been well worthwhile. In an upcoming article, I will tell you more (and perhaps share some before and after photos) - because if you are anything like my other friends, you'll be asking how we did it.
Hence, you may have noticed that I haven't been making as many cakes, biscuits or pastries lately. But yesterday, the urge to bake took hold.
I have a good supply of blood oranges, thanks to the generosity of my friends at Redbelly Citrus, and I considered baking a regular-sized cake with, say, blood oranges and hazelnuts (Australian Gourmet Traveller featured a gorgeous recipe recently). The problem is, whenever I bake a cake, we devour the entire thing within a day or two. And the more cake we eat, the more weight we gain.
So, I chose instead to bake cupcakes. These morsels are so simple to make, and taste so good. Better still, they freeze successfully.
BLOOD ORANGE & POPPYSEED CUPCAKES WITH BUTTERCREAM & PISTACHIO
2 tablespoons almond* milk, warmed
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
85g unsalted butter, softened
65g vanilla infused caster sugar
zest of half a blood orange, finely chopped (NB: keep the other half for the icing, see below)
1 free range egg, at room temperature
120g gluten-free* self raising flour, sifted
For the blood orange buttercream icing:
75g unsalted butter, softened
zest of half a blood orange, finely chopped
165g pure icing sugar, sifted
1-2 tablespoons fresh blood orange juice
For the garnish:
1 tablespoon pistachio nuts, chopped or crushed
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Place 12 patty cake liners into a 12-hole muffin tin or onto a baking slide.
In a small jug, combine the poppy seeds with the heated almond milk. Set this aside while you start to mix the cake. Combine the butter, caster sugar and blood orange zest in the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until well combined. Pour in the sifted flour and continue to mix slowly, before adding the almond milk and poppy seed combo. Mix to combine.
Using two tablespoons, divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cupcakes have risen, are golden brown and spring back when gently touched. Remove the cupcakes from the tray and place them onto a cooling rack.
When the cupcakes are cool, pipe the icing over the top (spread it on artistically) and finish with the garnish of pistachios. Store the iced cupcakes in an airtight container or freeze them individually in zip lock bags for up to four weeks. Makes 6 large, 9 medium or 12 small cupcakes.
* If you prefer, use dairy milk and regular flour.
To make the icing: combine the ingredients in a small bowl, beat until smooth and then chill in a blast chiller or pop into the freezer to allow the mixture to set slightly before piping.
Note: If using the Tefal Cuisine Companion as a mixer:
Combine the butter, caster sugar and blood orange zest in the bowl with the kneading crushing blade fitted. Mix on speed 9 for 60 seconds, then add the egg, mix on speed 10 for seconds. Now add the flour, the almond milk and the poppy seeds and mix on speed 10 for 45 seconds. Continue as per the instructions above.
Tell me dear readers, do you like sherbet? What about cupcakes? What are your favourites? Do please pop in and leave me a comment. I love hearing from you!
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.