I’ve been in a bit of baking rut recently, I think it is okay to admit this. I’ve made a strangely savoury batch of granola bars, and a stranger tray of baked oatmeal that was akin to an oaty omelette. There was a brownie failure which actually turned into some pretty good molten chocolate puddings, but not brownies. I did manage to pull off a tasty rhubarb cake for cake club last month, but it was a stressful experience!
Cupcakes, fairy cakes, buns, muffins or whatever you prefer to call them, are a good way to get your baking mojo back. They are quick to mix and speedy to bake, with less worrying about undercooked middles when you bake a large cake. Everyone’s been hating on cupcakes for a few years now, after they became so popular, and for good reason because there were some terrible versions around. Because of this my cupcake tins have only been dusted off for deep filled mince pies at Christmas, rather than for little cakes. Now feels like a good time to revisit these little cakes that were the one of the first things I baked with my Mum as a child.
These pistachio cakes are a little more sophisticated than the vanilla butterfly cakes with cream that we baked during the school holidays, but nearly as easy to prepare. I’m a big fan of almonds in cake, they lend a lovely fragrance and the texture ensures your cake won’t be dry. They also soak up flavour really well, and the honey and orange and glaze pour on after baking finishes these beautifully.
Feel free to play with the flavours here, you can use flaked almonds or toasted cashews instead, and lemon or lime instead of orange. Serve warm from the oven with a hot cup of tea
180g softened unsalted butter
180g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp orange extract
zest of one orange
100g ground almonds
125g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g chopped pistachios
juice of one orange
2 tablespoons of honey
Preheat your oven to gas mark 4 / 170c. Prepare a cupcake / muffin tin with paper cases. Cream together the butter and sugar in a stand mixer or using an electric whisk. Mix in the eggs one by one and whip for a few minutes. Add in the zest and then gently fold in the flour, almonds and baking powder until combined.
Spoon the mixture into the cases and sprinkle with the chopped pistachios. Mix together the honey and orange juice, and set aside.
Bake the cakes the oven for 15-20 minutes until cooked through and golden brown on top. As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, pour the orange and honey glaze on top. Leave to cool for a few minutes before digging in.