As a once “semi-professional” baker, I take pride in making things from scratch. However, the “semi” added with the quotation marks implies that while baking is a hobby of mine and something I once did for money, I do not actually know what I’m doing.
Sure, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks here and there, and I know the difference between French and Italian buttercream icings. (Have I made either successfully? Nope.) Which brings me to this weekend, when I broke down in a fit of desperation and turned to canned icing for help.
For those of us on the east coast, this Memorial Day weekend was a scorcher. Baltimore unfortunately missed out on spring completely, so I spent Memorial Day at my friend’s house floating in her pool and drinking orange whipped cream flavored vodka. In the spirit of the holiday, I still wanted to bake despite the heat, so I decided upon Orange Chiffon Cupcakes with Italian Buttercream. It sounded light and summery, and amazingly, I already had all the ingredients in my kitchen.
The cake came out beautifully. Maybe a little denser than expected, and they all sunk dramatically, but that’s to be expected with a dozen tiny soufflés. We can’t have it all.
The icing, however, was another story. I’m doomed to never have a successful egg based buttercream. The instant I added the butter to my fluffy egg white and sugar syrup concoction, the whole thing went to hell.
So, since I needed to salvage my dozen perfectly orange cakes, I turned to canned cream cheese icing. I’m not proud. In my defense, I would have simply sprinkled them with powdered sugar if they hadn’t fallen so dramatically. And I did top them with a little fresh orange zest to preserve my dignity. So I leave the icing to you, but here’s a perfectly summery cake recipe:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take 2 large egg whites (save the yolks) and beat them to fluffy peaks while adding 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon of vanilla. Place to the side. Now combine 2 cups cake flour with 1 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt. Then add 1 tablespoon of orange liqueur, 1 cup of half and half, ½ cup canola oil, the 2 egg yolks, and juice of one orange and the zest of 2 oranges. Once all is mixed, fold in the egg white mixture, careful not to collapse the egg whites. Spoon into a lined cupcake pan and bake for 18 minutes. Makes 12 cupcakes.
Top as you please.