To live content with small means, to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion, to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich, to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly, to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart, to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never, in a word to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common, this is to be my symphony.William Henry Channing
So, today's the second last day to the end of 2010. The year seems to have gone by in a flash, and I don't even know where to begin to take stock of all the things that have happened in my small universe. Our lovely, young cat and an equally lovely, elderly grandmother have passed on to a worldlier world. Two close girlfriends are (separately) expecting their first child. I've transcended from the shiny rungs of the corporate ladder to the CEO-ship of my own household in a matter of 24 hours (yeaaayyy, no regrets). I've climbed hills, ran two 10K races, been to Whole Foods and back - not on the same day, I hasten to add.
And then there's this blog. I started this blogging thing not because I really, really love to cook, but because I really, really like to write. There, that's the truth. With so much time on my hands and not much strategic thinking to be done, I didn't want my brain cells to flounder and die... so when by chance I stumbled upon the enchanting Orangette earlier this year, I was hooked. Who doesn't want to write like Molly Wizenberg? Food blogging it was!
The rewards of this simple decision? I've gained:
- more creativity in the kitchen (to the joy and sometimes, dismay of friends and kin)
- more technical skills (food styling, lighting, Photoshopping)
- more new words/ingredients (muffcakes, squash blossom)
- access to a whole, wide, wonderful world of food blogs
- best of all, many new friends - kind, supportive, helpful and extremely talented friends who are my fellow bloggers and readers!
This whole experience has been nothing close to what I had imagined and more rewarding than I'd ever anticipated - in fact, everyday I count my blessings with my fingers and toes until I run out of them. The digits, that is, not the blessings.
So today, on the second last day of the year, I made these Orange-Lavender Cupcakes to share with another one of my greatest blessings, my real-life friends. I liked how the fluffy batter cooked into a pillowy soft, gently floral and citrusy cake - the most wonderful cupcake real estate you can possibly sink your teeth into. And oh, that sticky orange glaze dripping down the sides had us all licking our fingers and smirking like the cat that got the cream ;-).
Before I move on to the recipe, here's the teaser. Lately, I've been preoccupied with this giddy, little publication and guess what? I'm giving it away! Come back again tomorrow if you want it....oh, I know you do.
These recipes will make your head spin!
Makes 12-15 cupcakes
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cup butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons grated or finely shredded orange zest
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup sifted icing sugar
3-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1. Preheat oven to 165C/325F. Make the lavender sugar first by grinding lavender and sugar in a grinder until well blended.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk the lavender sugar, caster sugar, butter and vanilla on high speed for about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating on medium speed.
3. Alternately, add flour mixture and sour cream to the batter, beating at low speed. Lastly, stir in the orange zest.
4. Spoon batter into cupcake or muffin tray about 3/4 full and bake for 30 minutes. You can also pour the whole mixture into a large loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before glazing.
5. For glaze, mix icing sugar with cooled, melted butter and enough orange juice to make a drizzling consistency. Spoon over the cupcakes, letting some of the glaze drip down the sides.