Orange & Fennel Seed Cupcakes

Preparation Time: 40 min

Ingredients 

Cake Mix

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal (can replace with another 1/2 cup plain flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup flavorless oil, such canola or safflower (I used about 2 tbsp less of this)

Icing

  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened slightly
  • 2 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tbsp sugar-coated (or regular) fennel seeds to sprinkle on top (available at Indian grocery stores)

Instructions 

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Put the sugar and zest in a medium bowl and rub the zest into the sugar with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and aromatic.

Add the yogurt, eggs and vanilla and whisking vigorously until the mixture is very well blended. Still whisking, add the dry ingredients, then switch to a large rubber spatula and fold in the oil.
 
You'll have a thick, smooth batter with a slight sheen. Spoon batter into a lined cupcake tray, filling it about 3/4 full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown. Transfer to a rack and cool completely.

Icing
Beat butter at high speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Sift icing sugar into bowl, then beat in orange juice.

Pipe or spoon on to top of cakes and then sprinkle a pinch of candied fennel seeds on top. Can be stored for several days in an airtight container.