Foodiva's Kitchen: Orange-Lavender Cupcakes and A Teaser

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Orange-Lavender Cupcakes and A Teaser

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!

Orange-Lavender Cupcakes
Makes 12-15 cupcakes
Lavender Sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers

Cake Batter
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
4 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons grated or finely shredded orange zest

Orange Glaze
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.


Carolyn said...

I adore this post. I thought I was starting my blog because I like to cook but I know now it's because I like to write. The photography, well we are still working on that part.
The cupcakes look good, I really wish I was one of your real-life friends. If you ever make it to Boston, you MUST come visit me!

Foodiva said...

Carolyn, what an A-ha moment! I realised that I only truly loved cooking when I DIDN'T have to do it as a chore... haha, I'm sure I'm not the only one. As for being friends in real time, I already liked you from the word 'go', so if I ever go back to Boston (was there 2 years ago), I'll most definitely look you up!

Victoria said...

I feel very similarly. I possibly love writing more than I love cooking (at times), which is probably why so many of my posts since moving to NY are talking about food and not necessarily cooking it, haha. You are an incredible cook though, and I'm so glad not only that you decided to take this adventure into food blogging, but that we've become blogging friends ourselves :) Your blog truly is an inspiration, and definitely keep it up in the New Year! Happy New Year to you and your family!! Hugs, Victoria :)

Foodiva said...

Awww... Victoria, you're truly a sweetheart. You were right there with me from the very beginning, and your encouragement was one of the reasons why I continued blogging, continued to dig deep for new ideas. To say I'm grateful for your friendship and camaraderie is an understatement! Until the next time I make it to NY, I'm quite happy to live there vicariously through your eyes... and your tastebuds! Happy New Year to you too, my friend!

Jennifurla said...

I was looking for an orange cake recipe just this very day! Thanks for sharing & Happy New year

Boulder Locavore said...

What a great post. It is nice to know more about you. I also totally agree with your remark to Carolyn about liking to cook when it is not on the chore list; amen! I feel totally the same. I think as women we are most fulfilled when creating something which can be done through a job creating results, or a project where we are channeling our creative energy. Writing is definitely that for me.

Boulder Locavore said...

'P.S.'! Where did you get the darling cupcake papers? Never seen anything like them!

Foodiva said...

Jen, our stars were aligned today, and we both get to fulfill our orange craving! A wonderful New Year to you and your beautiful family too!

Foodiva said...

B. Locavore, those are called French-pleated cupcake papers and I got them here in Brunei. The only place I see them sold online is on the Donna Hay website.... in Australia!! If you're interested, I can mail you some over. They're lovely to bake in and very easy to peel - just pull the pleats apart to release the cupcake.

whatsfordinneracrossstatelines said...

Love it! I love reading people such as yourself, not just for the recipes, but I feel are enjoying the process. If that makes any sense. You could read a recipe any day of the week and see a great photo, you just can't replicate the person writing it. I'm so glad you've found your groove, I've loved watching you. I'd love hanging with you too! Happy New Years!

Trix said...

Funny, I started blogging out of a combination of my love for cooking and food and to try to combat the burnout I was feeling from my real-life job as a (wait for it) writer. It has worked wonders to reinvigorate my creativity and I too feel SO lucky for the blogger friends I have made - and incredibly glad and grateful to have come across your blog and connect with you, truly I am. Did you start working with lavender because of the Incident parties? I have just fallen in love with working with it. Love these not-muffcakes! Will be back tomorrow to check out that cookbook giveaway ; )

Foodiva said...

Gina, I totally got what you meant! I've loved hanging with you too, loved getting to know you and your family with their great traditions - all through your blog. If Chef Dennis and Sara testaments' are to be believed, I bet you're as wonderful a person as they say you are if I too met you in the flesh! Your recipes are the best, they're the reason I never miss any of your posts. Have a wonderful year ahead, Gina!

Foodiva said...

Trix, I agree that the writing is just one part of this enjoyable process, and truth be told, it's probably the hardest part for me. The easiest and infinitely more enjoyable part is the blog surfing, connecting with other talented bloggers like yourself! Sometimes timing and circumstances play a part in reinforcing that connection, but really, it's the essence of the blogger that draws me the most. It makes me come back for more! As for the lavender, I started making these cakes about 7 years ago but stopped when I ran out of lavender. It's virtually impossible to get here where I live, so when the IIP party came along, I coerced my best friend to mail me some from Hong Kong! Now that's passion... ;-)

Cake Duchess said...

That is also why I started to blog!:)I am so happy I came across your gorgeous blog. These cupcakes are you!

Happy New Year, my beautiful friend. I hope it is filled with good health and happiness. Much love!
Lora xo

Foodiva said...

Lora, it's the first day of 2011 as I answer this, and it's a divine day! Thank you for your good wishes, hope the birds are also singing outside where you are (if it's not too cold!). Have a great start to the year!

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