Here's my third entry for this month's Iron Cupcake "Herbs" challenge. I went with my hubby to the Brew Hut this weekend (yes, he is a Brew Master) and I found a couple of unique ingredients that sparked my imagination. The first was a package of sweet orange zest pieces, second was bag of dried sweet gale. Gale is an herb that is sometimes added to beers to add a aromatic, floral, and herbal touch. Sweet gale pairs well with nutmeg and sweet orange, and that just sounded like a ready-made cupcake!
So I used a teacake recipe that was delicate and tender. It came out of the oven, light, yet moist and with an excellent natural crust on the tops (no need for a egg wash or sanding sugar.) The cake is flavored with cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, and the sweet gale (reconstituted in a simple syrup.) When the cupcakes puffed up over the tops of the liners, I sliced off the tops and smeared them with an orange marmalade I bought in Italy.
To top them off, I made a vanilla buttercream with more fresh nutmeg and cinnamon. My favorite special additions were a candied orange peel I made from my Brew Hut supplies and a light drizzle of a syrupy sweet aged balsamic vinegar. Yum, yum, yum!
*Baking tip: You should start by creating the candied orange peel and reconstituted Gale, that will set you up for a quicker process.
INGREDIENTS FOR SPICED TEACUPCAKES:
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 cup Baker's sugar
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tsp. dried sweet gale (plus 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar for reconstituting)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 small jar of orange marmalade
DIRECTIONS FOR CUPCAKES:
Line a cupcake pan with 12 cupcake liners. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Boil the 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a saucepan. Add sweet Gale. Bring the heat to low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Stain out only the Gale and discard the syrup.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar with a mixer until the mixture turns a light yellow color and thickens (about 2 minutes.) Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix for another minute. On a low speed, mix in the oil, vanilla, and sweet gale until blended. Mix in the yogurt until no white streaks remain. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together by hand just until there are only small lumps remaining.
Fill each cupcake liner just over 3/4 full. Bake for apx. 20 minutes or until a golden edge appears around the tops of the cupcakes. Allow the cupcakes to completely cool. Carefully slice the tops off the cupcakes. Microwave 1/4 cup of the marmalade at a time in a microwave safe bowl for 15 seconds. Smear each cupcake with a small amount of the marmalade with the marmalade and place the tops back on.
1/2 cup unsalted butter (just slightly cooler than room temp.)
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp freshly ground cinnamon
DIRECTIONS FOR BUTTERCREAM:
Whip the butter in the mixer for 1-2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Blend in spices and vanilla.
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
2 oz sweet orange peel
Sweet, syrupy aged Balsamic vinegar
Boil the water and sugar, stir the sugar until dissolved. Add the orange peel and simmer for 90-120 minutes. With a slotted spoon, pull out the orange peel and place on a wire rack. Dust the orange peel with granulated sugar while still wet. Allow to cool. For best results, wait 24 hours before using.
Top the frosted cupcakes with candied orange peel and lightly drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
Thursday, July 23, 2009