Orange Cup cakes with a nutty surprise

I have been baking simple cakes for a long time. I have also had my share of disasters as we do. My signature cake if I could call it that is Coffee and Walnut Gateau. I had a recipe for that to begin with but gradually I started using my standard combination. I have a basic formula and it works for a lot of cakes. For coffee and walnut, I add coffee and walnut, simple as  that.

Not sure where I got this formula from but I use 250 grams each of butter, caster sugar and self raising flour and 4 eggs. I have actually weighed eggs as well. Some times they are a perfect 250 grams but they could be a little higher or lower.

Another ingredient which is a must in all my cakes, no matter which flavour, is Vanilla. I have used Vanilla in various forms, powder, extract, essence, pods, you name it, I have used it. I just love Vanilla. I have to narrate this tiny tale before I go on.

One day I was working in my kitchen and I got this call from my BFF.  She was totally flustered and she is a master baker. Well, I calmed her down, as we do. Then asked her what had happened. We used to do most of our shopping together and I have learnt a lot of little things from her, especially about baking. Anyway, to cut to the chase, she had just found out that Vanilla extract contained 30% alcohol and we used it regularly. So, began our long search for alternatives. Powdered vanilla seems to be the best although it is pricey. One more short diversion, then we will get back on track. I baked a simple sponge for one of my neighbours with the powdered Vanilla and she said, “Your cake reminded me of the ones we used to have in our bachpan, it was so flavoursome” all credit to “Vanillaji”.

Well, getting back to my bakes…. I have not baked cupcakes for a long time. Yesterday, although my house is crazy at the moment ( a bit like me), painting, work in the bathroom, I decided to bake some cupcakes. My reason was even crazier, the weather was so warm, it was easy to bring the butter to a soft consistency, hehehe. I did warn you I was a little crazy.

I used my simple basic mix. I added chopped mixed nuts and some orange zest and orange essence as well. Was mighty pleased with the result. Also, I changed my technique. As I had to chop nuts, I decided to save on my washing up. I made the cake batter in my food processor as well.

cup cake orange 3 oange cup ake 2 orange cup cake 1 orange cup cake 4

Come on then, let’s bake!


Makes about 11 medium sized cupcakes

Preheat oven to 180*C


All ingredients have to be at room temperature for best results.

Butter (I used unsalted but you don’t have to) 125 gms
Caster Sugar 125 gms
Self-raising Flour 125 gms
Baking Powder ¼ tsp (optional)
Vanilla essence 1 tsp
Orange extract ¼ tsp
Zest only of 1 orange
Mix of nuts (I used Pistachio, Almonds and Cashew) chopped


About 3 tbs


You also need

A greased cupcake tray

Cupcake paper cases

Food processor (or you could use hand whisk / electric beater / stand mixer)


Measure out all ingredients.

Sift the self-raising flour with the baking powder if using or sift just your flour. Set aside.

If using food processor, add nuts to your food processor and pulse once or twice to chop the nuts roughly. You don’t have to powder them. If you have the patience and time, you could do this with a knife. Add the nuts to the sifted flour.

Add the orange zest to the flour as well.

In the bowl / jar of the food processor, cream butter and sugar for about 3 minutes.

Add in eggs, the flour mixture, orange extract and vanilla essence and beat on low speed until everything is mixed.

Spoon the batter in to the greased cup cake moulds.

Bake on the middle shelf of your oven for about 12 – 15 minutes. Check after 12 minutes. Mine got done in 15 minutes. Also, turn the cupcake tray around at about 10 minutes, so, they get done evenly.

Cool in the cupcake tray for about 10 minutes. them remove on to a wire rack. You can cool them completely and store them in an airtight box or have them straight away.

I only had a couple left which I saved to take pictures, lol! The aroma was heavenly in the kitchen.


You can make this batter in the normal creaming way as well with a hand whisk / electric beater / stand mixer.

For those of you who are not familiar with this method.

Beat butter and caster sugar until fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time, beating after each one until it blends into the batter.

Add orange extract and vanilla and beat for a bout 2-3 minutes

Mix the dry ingredients with a spatula or metal spoon.


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