Orange and Poppy Seed Cupcakes

During my thesis-induced baking hiatus, I did have a moment of weakness. I was missing baking a little too much, and so I returned to the kitchen to bake a quick treat. I told my desk buddies I’d bring in some cupcakes to help them through the last moments of Masters. Stress levels were so high in the office during those last few weeks that the tinest of morale boosts were received with thrice the usual enthusiasm, so really, it was for a good cause. It was also a good excuse to get away from the computer chair that was numbing my limbs and the computer screen that was ruining my eyes.

Excuses, excuses. A baking hiatus was never really going to last anyway…

I love citrus in baking, but I especially love oranges. I made an orange cake for a commission many moons ago, and the smell of it filling my kitchen made me want to nom it all right then and there. I said I was going to bake another for us but somehow it never happened, so I was eager for an excuse to bake something orange,

The addition of poppy seeds just ticked the rest of the taste and aesthetics boxes.

The resulting cake is lovely and moist and was a total hit in the office. The buttercream on top was lovely and creamy, with just a hint of orange.

This recipe made 10 cupcakes. I didn’t have any orange marmalade on hand when I made this batch, but any marmalade or jam will go fine. I used strawberry jam for this batch. You can serve these with buttercream as I did, but they’re nice enough alone. If you’re partial to boozy cakes, you could even drizzle these with an orange liquor (e.g. cointreau) before icing.

Orange and Poppy Seed Cupcakes


90g (3oz) unsalted butter
80g (2.5oz) caster sugar
50g (2oz) marmalade
1/4tsp almond essence
zest of 1 large orange
40ml (1.5 fl oz) orange juice
90g (3oz) self-raising flour sifted
30g (1oz) almond meal
1 large egg
20g poppy seeds

100g butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp orange essence


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan-forced/325°F/Gas 3. Line cupcake tin with paper cases
  2. Combine butter, sugar, marmalade, almond essence, orange zest and orange juice in a pan; stir over medium heat until sugar has dissolved and ingredients have melted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Sift flour and almond meal into a bowl with the poppy seeds; make a well in the centre.
  4. Gradually pour cooled liquid into the centre; work the flour into the liquid until well combined. Add the egg and mix until well combined. If mixture is dry, add another egg.
  5. Divide between paper cases; bake for 20 minutes, or until cakes spring back when lightly touched.
  6. Allow to cool inside the tin for 5 minutes, then place cupcakes on a wire rack to cool.

Beat butter in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the icing sugar a little at a time and beat until well incorporated. Beat in milk and orange essence.

You’ll find the printable version of this recipe here.

6 thoughts on “Orange and Poppy Seed Cupcakes

  1. Hi! First, I just wanted to say that I really enjoy your blog! Making deserts is a lot of fun and, unlike many cooked main courses, the fruits of the labor are easily shared.

    Second, I wanted to check the quantity of marmalade in the recipe. The metric measurement calls for 500g and the imperial measurement calls for 2oz.

    When I made these a couple weeks ago, the batter seemed somewhat runny. After checking the recipe again, I discovered the 500g=2oz anomaly and worried I’d screwed up at the very last stage, so I added more of the two flours to thicken the batter. Everything baked up just fine, if heavier than I’d hoped for. Which brings me to inquire about the best amount of marmalade to use!

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