This beautiful, tender, citrus-scented cake filled with bits of candied orange peel is just the thing for your afternoon tea! Tender and rich, this cake can also go from refreshing afternoon snack to dessert buffet with no trouble.
- 2 Small Hale Groves Navel Oranges
- ½ c. sugar, divided
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- 1¼ c. water
- 1 c. all-purpose flour
- ¾ c. fine-ground yellow cornmeal
- 1½ tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ¾ c. (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2/3 c. buttermilk, room temperature
- Cut an 11-inch circle of parchment paper. Cut a small hole in the center of the circle.
- To prepare marmalade: slice ends off each orange and discard. Slice each orange into 9 rounds (about 1/8” thick). Stir together ¾ cup sugar, vanilla bean/seeds and water in a 10″ skillet. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add orange slices and place parchment circle directly on top of fruit and liquid (this keeps the moisture locked in and the fruit submerged in the syrup). Reduce heat to low to maintain a very gentle simmer. Cook until slices are almost translucent and liquid is the consistency of maple syrup (35-45 minutes). Flip slices over every so often to make sure they are all being cooked evenly. Add a little more water if the level gets too low before the slices are cooked. Let the mixture stand off the heat until cool enough to handle.
- Reserve 12 slices of the same circumference and the syrup for later. Finely chop the remaining slices.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
- To prepare cakes: whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter and ¾ cup sugar on medium speed until fluffy (3-4 minutes). Add chopped orange and the lemon zest and beat to combine. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in half of flour mixture, then buttermilk, then remaining flour mixture.
- Divide batter among cupcake cups and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs attached (16-18 minutes). Let cakes cool in tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Top each cake with a reserved orange slice and brush the orange slices with the reserved syrup.