Monday, December 15, 2008

Gingerbread Cupcakes

I needed to come up with “something baked” for a holiday party recently. I had thought of making something savory, but couldn’t really find a recipe that sounded good. I knew that other people were making cookies, so I didn’t want to make those (even though cookies are REALLY my thing). I was browsing through recipes and came across a recipe for Gingerbread Cake with Orange Chocolate-studded Whipped Cream. I’d made it before and it was really good, but not so portable. I thought that they would certainly work as cupcakes, so that’s what I ended up doing.

I was out of cake flour, so I substituted all-purpose flour, just using a little less. I think I used about 2-1/3 cup flour, which seemed to work ok. I also didn’t want to use whipped cream for the frosting, since it’s a bit more delicate and not so friendly for sitting at room temperature for a couple hours. I substituted an orange butter cream, since the original recipe called for orange and chocolate flavors in the whipped cream. I could have used lemon, since there was lemon zest in the cake. I used a special extract that I have called Fiori de Sicilia, which has an orange creamsicle flavor, so I added orange juice to boost the orange flavor. (You can buy this extract from the Baker’s Catalog:

These were very good, but I think I liked the gingerbread in another cake that I made recently. I think I baked the cupcakes about a minute too long, so they were just a touch dry.

1 cup honey
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2-1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk

3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
2-3 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia extract or vanilla

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line muffin cups with paper liners. You’ll need about 18 liners. Combine the honey, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for about one minute. Set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cream the butter, baking soda, and brown sugar in a stand mixer until light, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and egg and mix again. Stir in the spiced honey. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in thirds, beating just until combined.
Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full. Bake until a wooden pick comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pan to cool. Frost with butter cream when cool.
To make the frosting, combine the powdered sugar and butter in a large mixer bowl. Mix until combined. Add the extract and slowly add the orange juice, one tablespoon at a time, while the mixer is running on low. If the frosting is too stiff, add more orange juice. If the frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar.
Adapted from Cakes from Scratch in Half the Time
by Linda West Eckhardt, frosting recipe from The Betty Crocker Cookbook (1991 edition)

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