My friend Kate came from St. Louis to visit us in New Jersey! She was the first of our friends to visit (aside from when she and Jen drove out here with me). Alex and I were very excited to have her as a house guest. We three and baby had a great time visiting the boardwalk in Ocean City (which I think I prefer over Atlantic City’s) as well as relaxing at home.
Kate didn’t just visit us – she visited on her birthday! I don’t yet have much of an opportunity to cook and bake (although hopefully that will change soonish), but I had to make her something. Kate is vegan, so of course the Vegan Clementine Cupcake recipe from King Arthur Flour jumped out at me when I saw it this month.
The cupcakes were incredibly easy to make. The recipe calls for peeled, finely chopped clementines or tangerines, but I think any flavorful seedless orange would work. I took a hint from the reviews, and used mandarins from Trader Joe’s and left the thin skins on them. Rather than chop them by hand, I whirred them in my bullet blender for a few seconds until it was slightly chunky pulp. These cupcakes are vegan, but they don’t take any fancy ingredients other than fresh citrus. Vegan or not, they’re the best orange cake I’ve ever tasted.
- 2¼ cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1 cup sugar
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup peeled, diced seedless clementines, tangerines, oranges, or mandarins (leave the peels on if the skins are thin; I chopped mine in a bullet blender)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup orange juice (I used prepackaged OJ, rather than fresh)
- Combine dry ingredients. Add oranges, vanilla, vegetable oil, and OJ. Mix just to combine; do not overmix. The mixture will foam up some. Scoop into greased or lined muffin tins; cups will be nearly full. Bake at 400 for 15-18 minutes (mine took 17, even though I got 13 cupcakes). A toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean when the cupcakes are done. Cool for 5 minutes, then carefully remove cupcakes from the muffin tin to cool on a rack. If desired, top with vanilla or orange frosting (see King Arthur Flour for details).
These cupcakes were exactly what I want an orange cake to be. They were bright and citrusy. Including the mandarin peel made the orangey flavor stand out in a way that just using orange juice never does. They were sweet enough that I didn’t miss the frosting. The cupcakes stayed moist for the few days until we ate them all. I can’t think of a single change I would make to this recipe. If you want a bright, springtimey, citrusy cake, definitely try this recipe.