Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Downton Season 5 Finale and Earl Grey Cupcakes

The end of each season of Downton Abbey is always soo bittersweet.  I LOVE tuning in each week to take in the gorgeous fashion and discover what twists and turns Julian has in store but this baking gig can get tough!  Yeah, I know you are probably thinking, "Oh, poor you.  It must be just awful having to try soo many delicious desserts each Sunday."  Well, you are right.  It is a pretty sweet gig but the preparation involved can be tough for a busy professional with two little ones.  The big question is if  I will embark on another baking journey for Season 6.  The answer?  You betcha!!

The evening of the Season 5 finale, I had been on the road and just wanted to prepare something easy.  I found a great recipe for Earl Grey Tea Cupcakes in The Great British Bake Off cookbook.

They look good, right?  They didn't require any ingredients I did not already have in my cupboard so I decided to give it a go... with a few tweaks.  I also prepared a delicious orange buttercream with fresh backyard oranges for slathering. I am really glad I did.  What a treat!  These cupcakes were almost as jaw dropping as the red coat Lady Mary wore when she visited Anna in prison.  Almost.  Seriously, look at this coat!!
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Let's dive into these Earl Grey Cupcakes with Orange Buttercream!

Cupcakes --
200ml milk
2 Earl Grey tea bags (3 if a more obvious flavor is desired)
115g softened, unsalted butter
225g fine sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
250g all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Frosting --
75g softened, unsalted butter
Juice of 1 - 2 oranges (should yield 5 - 6 tablespoons juice) (Could also use lemons)
385g confectioners sugar

Cupcakes --
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place cupcake liners into a standard muffin tin and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat milk to steaming. Do not let it boil.  Remove the saucepan from heat and allow the tea bags to steep for two minutes.  The milk takes on the subtle floral flavor of Earl Grey tea but if a deeper flavor is desired, use three tea bags.

Gently squeeze the tea bags prior to removing and discarding them.  Measure 150ml of the milk and allow it to cool on the counter.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time, mixing well with each addition.

Add one-third of the dry mixture, mix, then add one-third of the milk and mix.

Repeat the process until all of the dry and all of the liquid are added. Scrape the bowl and mix one last time.

Spoon the batter evenly into the lined muffin pan, making sure each cup is about 2/3 full.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a baking rack.

Frosting --
Cream butter with confectioners sugar.  Add five tablespoons orange juice and blend until smooth.

By the way, look at this gorgeous orange!  It was too stunning to pass up.  If you don't have an orange, use a lemon.

If too thin, add a bit more sugar.  If too thick, add a bit more orange juice.  Pipe or spread onto the cupcakes when ready to serve.  These cupcakes are delicious as a snack at home but have the potential to grace a tea table.

The season ended with a most beautiful Christmas tree.  While I was captivated by the size and shape of the tree, I was surprised by the lighting on their tree.  Was anyone else surprised by the modernity of the light string? Check them out for yourself and marvel at Lady Mary as mother.  Yes, it is a rare sight.

Until next January!!