earl grey cupcakes

Last weekend, I was on a mission to make marmalade. Since there is such an abundance of gorgeous citrus available right now, it just needed to be done. While searching for a sour orange, I spotted a mountain of bergamot oranges and decided at that moment that it would be a bergamot marmalade.

Long story short, I have mixed feelings about the marmalade. But I know for certain that I’m in love with bergamot oranges. Bergamot oranges are pale in color, slightly bitter and extremely fragrant. The scent of bergamot, especially when you spend the afternoon peeling and slicing the rind, is heavenly. It almost made me want to make perfume rather than preserves. If you’ve never had a bergamot orange, you’re probably familiar with its fragrance and flavor from Earl Grey tea, which is infused with the oil from the bergamot rind. Which reminds me of these Earl Grey cupcakes.

I love cupcakes. In my opinion, they are the epitome of good things that come in small packages; they’re portion controlled and portable and perfect for just about any occasion – birthdays, bake sales, break-ups, you name it. In my circles of friends, I’m known as the cupcake supplier. Once upon a time, in my early twenties, I dreamed of opening a cupcakery. Which is why even I am surprised that I’ve yet to share a cupcake recipe here. Until now.

I made these Earl Grey cupcakes twice last summer, for two different bridal showers. If you like Earl Grey tea, you will love these cupcakes. They have such a delicate flavor and they’re a great alternative to plain jane vanilla or chocolate cupcakes. I especially like them dressed with a lemon buttercream, which really enhances the bergamot essence of the Earl Grey. Now if I could just get this marmalade situation figured out.

earl grey cupcakes

adapted from Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery by Martha Swift and Lisa Thomas

makes 12 cupcakes

for the cupcakes:

1/2 cup 2% reduced fat milk. at room temperature

4 Earl Grey teabags

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

2 large eggs

3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons self-rising flour

3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and add the teabags. Cover and steep for about 30 minutes. Remove the teabags and gently squeeze to remove any excess liquid from the bags. Discard teabags.

In a medium bowl, sift together the two flours and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth, about 3-5 minutes. Add the almond extract if using and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until completely incorporated.

Alternate adding the flour mixture and the infused milk, beginning and ending with the flour, mixing until combined after each addition.

Carefully spoon the mixture into the cups, filling them about 2/3 full. Bake for about 25 minutes until slightly raised and golden brown. Test with a wooden skewer in the center of the cupcake. It should come out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave the cupcakes in the pan for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. When completely cool, frost the cupcakes with lemon buttercream.

for the lemon buttercream:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk, at room temperature

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

4-1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, milk, lemon juice, zest and half the sugar until smooth. Gradually add the remainder of the sugar and beat until smooth and creamy.