I think I have finally started to learn a thing or two about cakes, which is a relief considering the fact I’ve been working with pastry and desserts every Friday for over a month now.
These mandarin cupcakes come as a result of my pesticide-free mandarin tree producing too much fruit for an adult and toddler person to consume before spoiling, with credits to Cake Central, curious cupcakes, Rochelle Adonis and my new pink polka-dotted serving tray for inspiration.
Recipe #89: Mandarin cupcakes. Makes 18+.
You will need (all ingredients at room temperature to start):
► 200g butter
► 200g caster sugar
► 300g flour
► pinch salt
► 4 eggs
► 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
► 6 small to medium-sized mandarins
► sugar syrup [see allrecipes.com for a basic recipe (1 part sugar : 1 part water)]
► apricot glaze [see Recipe #88]
Start by preparing the mandarins:
- Zest the top layer of skin from all of the mandarins, using a microplane or zester. Don’t be too perfect about this – I prefer to leave a little zest rather than include any of the bitter pith. Produces around 2 tbsp of zest.
- Juice four of the the mandarins over a small bowl by ‘wringing’ them between your hands. Or you can use a citrus juicer. I don’t have a citrus juicer. Makes about ½ cup of juice.
- Segment 1½ to 2 of the mandarins [the segments of a mandarin are called carnels, in case you were wondering…]. Peel the skins and remaining pith from them individually > rather than using boiling water and lye, I cut through the inner edge of the carnel’s skin with my fingernail or a sharp knife, then I run my thumb under each side of the skin before peeling off one side of the skin. The segments will be used for presentation, so you want them to be as perfect as possible. I tend to leave one side of the skin intact (as the underside) as it helps to keep the structure of the carnel stable. Results in at least 20 segments for decoration.
Whisk all ingredients together, except for the mandarin segments, sugar syrup and apricot glaze – you will use these once the cupcakes have cooled. Fill cupcake papers to halfway with this mixture and place on a tray [I used a muffin tin so that the cupcakes would keep their shape].
Bake in an oven preheated to 180°C for 12-25 minutes; check the cakes at the 12-minute mark and cook for longer if needed. When cooked, the tops of the cupcakes should be slightly golden – and, if you insert a metal skewer into the centre of the cupcakes, it should come out clean.
Wait for the cupcakes to cool, then inject with as much sugar syrup as you can get get into them [mine managed about 10mL each] > if you don’t have an basting (or large needleless) syringe, cut a round section from the top of each cupcake with a teaspoon and add the syrup with a teaspoon, then replace the ‘lid’. You could even inject some alcohol if you want to… Top each cupcake with a mandarin segment, brush over some apricot glaze, and you are ready to serve your precious morsels!
I made these as celebration cakes for a birthday lunch [happy birthday again, Josh!].
While these dense cakes are zesty and delicious by themselves, they are best served with a generous dollop of double cream.
I was too short on time to create Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella’s mandarin curd. With so many mandarins still dripping off the tree in my backyard, I will find the time to make a curd of them very soon!
Thank you to all of you who baked and/or commented on my vanilla cupcakes. I hope you like this fresh winter version just as much.