It took me nearly a week before I baked something in 2014. I'm actually a little bit impressed with myself- I'm normally constantly thinking about what I can bake next, when I can make it, who I can give it to. Maybe it's because Mama CupandSaucer and I have been trying to be "good" in 2014, and I didn't want to ruin that by making a batch of cupcakes we'd have to work our way through. The hardship.
I started thinking about the idea of clementine cupcakes after seeing Franky talk about clementine cake on Twitter. It turns out, she used Nigella's recipe which, you will see, clearly influences what I've done below, though I've made these my own way, mostly because I didn't have any ground almonds and I'm too impatient for two hours of clementine boiling. Who has the time for that? It also seems to go slightly against the nature of cupcake making in my opinion- which for me, is all about the speedy gratification. Most cupcakes I make go from ingredients to mouthful in probably less than two hours, so the idea of waiting two hours before I can even really start making something just doesn't appeal.
Also, it sounds so obvious but I'm saying it anyway, just in case- of course you could use tangerines or satsumas instead. I probably didn't even use clementines, I just grabbed the three which were lurking in the fruit bowl, and decided that alliteration is a good thing. You could probably also do this with lemon, oranges, blood orange, grapefruit, or lime too- though they may become a little bitter in some of those cases.
You will need:
- 3 clementines
- 6oz butter, softened
- 6oz caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 6oz self raising flour
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- butter, softened
- icing sugar
Begin by putting your three clementines into a large, microwaveable bowl or jug. Cover with cold water, pop some kitchen roll on top of the bowl/ jug, and microwave for ten minutes, by which point the clementines should be all soft. If you don't have a microwave, you will need to boil them in a pan for two hours. Drain away the water, and make sure that the little green stalk-y bits are removed, then blitz using either a hand blender or putting them into a food processor, until you've not got any large lumps of peel or flesh left, but there is still some texture. Put to one side to cool.
Preheat your oven to 180C.
While the clementine puree is cooling, make your cake batter. Begin by creaming together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time, combining completely after each addition. Once the eggs are all combined, add a teaspoon of vanilla paste (or extract, if you must), and sift in the flour in two parts, folding to combine each time.
Then add roughly two-thirds to three-quarters of your clementine puree to the cake batter (do not throw the rest away, you'll need it later), and stir well to combine. Then divide your batter between cupcake cases- I had enough batter for 14 cupcakes. By the way- if you're ever filling a muffin tray/ cupcake tray with less than 12 cakes, always fill from the middle of the tray. They just seem to bake better this way.
Bake in your preheated oven for around 15 minutes (though truth be told, I didn't look at the time) or until well risen, golden brown, and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Then leave to cool while you make the buttercream.
I'm sorry I haven't put quantities for the buttercream- I never ever measure, but a good rule of thumb if you're the measuring sort is that you want twice as much icing sugar as you have butter. Just sift in the icing sugar a little bit at a time, tasting regularly until you're happy with the sweetness. Then add the rest of your clementine puree (or to taste) to the icing. This will make it thin down a lot, so you might want to put your bowl of icing into the fridge for a bit before you pipe it onto the cakes.
The result? A citrus-y, winter-y, moist cupcake which even my friend A liked, and normally he's averse to fruit in desserts. I'll take that.