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Even the hardest working gardener needs to take a break once in a while.  And being at the lazier end of the gardening scale of work, breaks are a frequent feature of my day.

Fork

Sometimes though, a cup of coffee on its own just isn’t enough.  All that digging and pruning works up a fair old appetite, and a cookie or slice of cake is definitely needed.  After testing a whole range of home baked goodies for garden worthiness, I reckon a cupcake or muffin is about the best break-time snack… they even come self-contained in a paper cake case (which can be added to the compost heap once you’ve finished your break), so no plate required.

Cupcakes

These are the current favourite cupcakes.  Seasonally flavoured with ginger and orange… although, to be fair, neither ginger or orange are ever in season in Yorkshire.  But they both add a warming flavour to the cake, and warming is always welcome in January.

Cupcake

You don’t of course need to save these cupcakes for a gardening coffee break.  They would be just as good after tea, or even for an end of week treat in lunchboxes.  You might want to go for an un-iced version in a lunchbox though – just as good… but less mess.

I can’t remember the last time I entered a recipe into the Tea Time Treats challenge – it was a good while ago anyway.  The challenge is jointly hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage and Janie who blogs at The Hedgecombers.  The theme for January is eggs, and I’m adding these cupcakes, made with eggs from our hens, to the already long list of tea time ideas.

Tea Time Treats Logo

Ginger & orange cupcakes

(makes 12)

150g unsalted butter, softened

150g light brown soft sugar

150g self-raising flour

1½ tsp ground ginger

50g diced candied ginger

2 eggs

zest of ½ an orange

1 tbsp orange juice

Preheat the oven to 180oC, 350F, gas 4.  Line 12 muffin tins with paper cases.

Put the butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl and cream them to get a light, fluffy mixture.

Sift the flour into a separate bowl and mix in the ground ginger and the diced candied ginger.

Beat the eggs into the butter and sugar mixture, adding them one at a time and mixing well between additions.  If the mixture looks like it’s starting to curdle, add a spoonful of the flour mix and beat that in.  Stir in the orange zest and juice, (zest the whole orange before you cut it to squeeze out the juice, then keep half of the zest to one side for the icing).

Gently fold the flour and ginger mixture into the wet ingredients,  Mix until there is no dry flour left, but try not to overwork the batter.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cupcake cases, then bake for 15-20 minutes.  The cakes are ready when the tops are golden brown and springy to the touch.  Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack.

The ginger and orange in these cupcakes gives them plenty of flavour, and they taste really good just as they are.  But you can add a topping of orange cream cheese icing for that extra bit of indulgence.

Orange cream cheese icing

50g full fat cream cheese

a few drops vanilla extract

zest of ½ an orange

50g icing sugar

Beat the cream cheese, vanilla extract and orange zest together.  Sift the icing sugar onto the mixture and stir to combine everything.

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