I am finally growing in confidence as a baker. For a long time I have thought of myself as a good cook but not a good baker. But slowly that is beginning to change.
Until recently I would never experiment with a cake recipe because baking just didn’t come naturally to me.
The world seems to fall into two camps: those who were born to bake and those who weren’t. I’ve always fallen into the second camp. But I’m gradually discovering that baking can actually be learned. It’s as much about confidence in the kitchen as anything, a bit of practice and not giving up the first time things go pear-shaped.
In recent weeks I’ve come up with my own recipe for pistachio scones and tried my hand at hot cross buns (recipe coming soon). And I’ve also come up with this recipe for chocolate orange cupcakes, which I’m really rather proud of. They’re sticky and gooey and indulgent and satisfying. My little girls asked for seconds. What more can you ask for?
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not inventing recipes from scratch. Far from it. But I’m having fun playing around with other people’s recipes.
My experiments don’t always work out. A few weeks ago I tried making my version of a lemon tart using polenta and caraway. It was truly disgusting. I wasn’t too impressed with my Cheerio crunchies either – my attempt at using up a bulk purchase of a breakfast cereal my kids once loved then decided they no longer like.
Anyway, back to the chocolate orange cupcakes. The idea for these came from the good old Terry’s Chocolate Orange. Well, where else? I’ve used Nigella Lawson’s recipe for chocolate-cherry cupcakes as my starting point and then quite simply swapped the cherry ingredients for orange ones. Perhaps I’m being too honest here? That sounds too easy now I’ve typed it. But it did honestly feel quite inspired to me at the time…
Chocolate orange cupcakes
200g plain chocolate
280g orange marmalade
1 orange, zest and juice
150g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten
150g self-raising flour
100ml double cream
25g mixed peel
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4.
Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat and then add 100g of the chocolate. When the chocolate starts to melt, remove from the heat and stir in the marmalade, orange zest and juice, sugar, salt and eggs.
When it’s all mixed together well, stir in the flour.
Place 12 muffin paper cases into your muffin tin and spoon in the cupcake mixture. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until the cakes have risen and are springy to the touch.
Cool in the muffin tray for 10 minutes or so, and then transfer to a wire rack until they are completely cool.
To make the icing, break up the remaining 100g chocolate into a saucepan and add the double cream. Bring to a gentle boil and then remove from the heat. Stir with a wooden spoon for a few minutes until the icing is smooth and thick. Use a tablespoon to ice the cakes and pop a few pieces of mixed peel in the middle of each one.
I just had a bit of a wobble and almost changed my mind about posting this recipe. Another blogger, a proper baking blogger with tonnes of followers, has just posted their recipe for chocolate orange cake. My confidence in my own food was zapped in a matter of seconds. But do you know what, I am going to press that ‘publish’ button. This isn’t a competition, after all. Is it?