These gorgeous little Orange Cupcakes are fresh and zesty but also have the most luxurious, silky ermine frosting piled high on top. The cupcakes are moist and fluffy with that uplifting flavour only citrus can give.  You can’t help but be in a good mood when you bite into one of these beauties.

If you love the aroma of orange flavoured desserts baking as much as I do you’ll also love this Greek orange semolina Cake or these Mini Flourless Ginger Orange Cakes.

Three orange cupcakes with white buttercream on a white plate

Lemon seems to get all the praise when it comes to baking and orange just gets left in the shadows. Orange is truly a gorgeous flavour in baking – it’s fresh, zingy and sunshiny.

How to make them orange cupcakes

These orange cupcakes are an easy one to make, you just need two bowls – one for dry ingredients and one for wet. The two are then combined with a spatula then portioned out and baked.

Mixing together wet ingredients (left) and dry ingredients (right) Portioning cupcake batter between cupcake cases in a muffin tin

  1. Start by mixing your dry ingredients with a whisk. Use the same whisk but a separate bowl to whisk together the wet ingredients.
  2. Now add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
  3. Stir with a spatula until the batter is all just combined. 
  4. I like to use a medium ice cream scoop to portion the cupcake batter out between the cupcake liners. Then bake for around 20 minutes.

How to make the buttercream

This isn’t just any orange buttercream – this is super silky, super creamy orange buttercream. This buttercream is made using an ermine buttercream base. If you’ve seen many of my cupcake recipes, you’ll know I use this style of buttercream often, but what is it.

Ermine buttercream is made with a base of flour and milk cooked together to form a paste. This is then added to butter and sugar and then any flavourings. The result is a silky smooth frosting that is also NOT ridiculously sweet.

Pieces of orange peel in a saucepan of milk. A second image shows a cooked white paste Beating together butter and sugar until creamy. Filling a piping bag with white buttercream

  1. We start by making that flour and milk paste base, mixing them in a saucepan with half the sugar and cooking over low until it’s a thick pudding-like consistency.
  2. Once the paste has cooled, cream together butter and the remaining sugar until light, then add the flour paste 1 spoon at a time until combined.
  3. Beat it for another 5-6 minutes until it’s super creamy, smooth and whipped.
  4. To add the orange streaks, I place all the frosting in a line down the centre of a piece of cling film, then paint a line of orange food colouring on either side of it.
  5. Wrap it up, then slot it into a prepared piping bag and pipe as usual.

Decorating your cupcakes

I’ve used small wedges of orange and miniature fondant blossoms to decorate these but you could decorate these in many other ways

  • Sprinkles and non pareils
  • Water down a little marmalade to drizzle over
  • Orange segments (skin removed)
  • Orange straws to add some fun
  • Mini fondant flowers or blossoms
  • Candied orange peel
  • Make some mini orange shortbread cookies

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An orange cupcake cut open to reveal the fluffy texture sitting on an aqua teatowel

If you’re looking for a cupcake that will brighten your day, you’ve definitely found one in these Orange Cupcakes. Soft and fluffy from the addition of corn flour (cornstarch) and moist from using melted butter, these cupcakes are a sweet summery bite. 

The creamy orange buttercream is otherworldly and once you’ve tried ermine, you’ll never want to go back.

More recipes you’ll love

A closeup of an orange cupcake with white frosting

Orange Cupcakes with the creamiest Orange Buttercream

4.27 from 23 votes
Fresh orange juice and zest in the batter gives these beautiful Orange Cupcakes a sweet, aromatic orange zing. The unbelievably creamy orange buttercream, both infused and spiked with orange zest are truly the icing on the cake.

Ingredients

FOR THE ORANGE CUPCAKES

  • 130 g plain (all purp) flour (1 cup / 4.6oz) 
  • 33  corn flour (cornstarch) (¼ cup / 1.2oz)
  • teaspoon  baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon  salt
  • 115  g unsalted butter, melted (½ cup / 1 stick)
  • ¾ cup caster (superfine) sugar (150g / 5.3oz) 
  • ¼ cup  whole milk, room temp
  • large eggs, room temp
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice (notes)
  • Zest of 1/2 medium orange
  • teaspoon  vanilla extract

FOR THE ORANGE BUTTERCREAM

  • cup  whole milk
  • ¼ cup  plain (all-purp) flour (33g / 1.2oz) (notes)
  • Peel of 1 orange, no pith, in thick strips (use a vegetable peeler)
  • 226 unsalted butter, softened (1 cup / 2 sticks)
  • cup  caster (superfine) sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • teaspoon  orange zest
  • Pinch of salt

Equipment

Instructions
 

FOR THE ORANGE CUPCAKES

  • Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / 160C fan forced. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  • Place the flour, corn flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and whisk to mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the melted butter and sugar just to combine.
  • Add the milk, eggs, orange juice, zest and vanilla and whisk really well to combine.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir through gently with a spatula until just combined.
  • Fill the cupcake cases to about ⅔ full. Bake for around 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out with just a couple of crumbs on it. Transfer to a cooling rack. You can go straight on with steps 1-3 of the buttercream.

FOR THE ORANGE BUTTERCREAM

  • In a small saucepan, whisk the flour with a little milk to a paste. Add the remaining milk, 1/2 cup of sugar and orange peel.
  • Heat over low heat, stirring constantly until it gets very thick (like a thick custard or pudding).
  • Press this mixture through a strainer into a bowl. Discard the orange peel and cover with plastic wrap pressed to the surface and let it cool to room temperature before continuing (notes).
  • Once the pudding mixture is cool, beat together the butter and ½ cup of sugar until lightened and creamy. About 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl a few times through the process.
  • Add 1 spoonful of the pudding mixture at a time, mixing on low between each. Make sure each spoonful is incorporated before adding the next.
  • Once all the pudding mixture is added, beat for a further 5-7 minutes on medium until it looks whipped and creamy. You should not be able to feel any sugar granules. (If it looks like it separates, don't worry, just keep on beating. It will all come together into a beautiful, almost whipped cream looking frosting).
  • Finally add the vanilla and orange zest and give it one final quick mix just to mix it through.

Notes

  1. You will need 2 medium oranges for this recipe
  2. I use an Australian standard 20ml tablespoon (= 4 teaspoons worldwide)
  3. For best results you should always weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Kitchen scales are relatively cheap but if you can’t weigh the ingredients, use the spoon and level method (don’t scoop).
  4. I use corn starch a lot in my baking. Cake flour is a combination of all-purpose and corn starch but in Australia is not so readily available. I use this combo in my recipes a lot instead of using cake flour.
  5. You can cool the flour / milk paste much more quickly in the freezer. Check it regularly so that it doesn't get cold. It needs to be at room temperature before you use it.
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Three orange cupcakes with white buttercream sitting on an aqua tea towel