citrus cup cakes

citrus coconut cupcakes (vegan)

20th March 2016


When we lived in Israel, we were very fortunate to be surrounded by citrus orchards, and now here in Portugal, we have our own line of orange and lemon trees that extends down the driveway.  Each Winter, the trees are abundant and I am struggling to make use of all those oranges.  I managed to boil and freeze a dozen for this recipe, and twice-weekly, I fill a basket full to last us through with freshly squeezed juices in the mornings.  I peel and chop bowls full, to offer to class after yoga practice.  I have also been making big pots of marmalade jam to last us through the year.  Scooping it up and serving it on home-made bread to warm and brighten these damply, chilly days.  But still, so many end up on the ground.

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~ orange blossoms


citrus coconut cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes (I use these sized baking cups.)

Recipe adapted from Amy Chaplin’s – ‘At Home in the Wholefood Kitchen’.

Deliciously flavoured orange vegan cupcakes.  The boiled whole orange then blended with the wet ingredients, gives these cupcakes a clean, vibrant and refreshing flavour.  The coconut gives them a crusty outside and moist, light crumb inside.  I love to serve them with a dollop of thick Greek yoghurt drizzled with honey for a sweeter cake. 

I have also made this as a cake and drizzled it lavishly with a vegan lemon-zested frosting – recipe below. Or for a more festive occasion this pomegranate jewel cake.


1¾ cups/215g whole-spelt flour

1½ tsp aluminium-free baking powder

¾ tsp  baking soda

1¼ cups/100g, dried unsweetened, shredded coconut – divided

1 medium navel/Valencia orange, boiled

1 cup/280g maple syrup (replace with 1 cup/180g brown sugar plus 1 cup/245g almond milk)

¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp/50g extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

½ tsp rock salt

1 Tbsp vanilla essence

strips of lemon & orange zest to garnish, optional

boil the orange

1.  Place a whole orange in a medium pot, cover with water, then bring to boil over high heat, cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 45 – 50 minutes or until soft.  Remove from heat, drain, and set aside to cool.

You can also boil a few oranges in advance and freeze them for up to three months.

make the cupcakes

2.  Preheat oven to 180C/350F.  Line a muffin tray with 12 paper liners and set aside.

3.  Grind ¾ cup coconut in a food processor for 1 minute.

4.  Add the whole-spelt flour, baking powder and soda to the food processor, and blend to combine, transfer to a medium bowl and add the remaining dried coconut.  Set aside.

5.  Cut the boiled orange into quarters, remove any seeds, and cut each piece in half, then place in a food processor, add the maple syrup, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and vanilla – blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.

6. Pour into the flour mixture, and use a spatula to stir until just combined; do not overmix.

7.  Distribute batter among lined muffin tray, filling them almost to the top.

8.  Place in oven, bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Set aside to cool for a few minutes in the tray, then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve with thick Greek yoghurt, coconut cream, drizzled with honey and garnish with strips of citrus zest or cover with lemon zested frosting.


lemon-zested vegan frosting


1 x 400ml unsweetened full-fat coconut milk

3 Tbsp agar flakes

6 Tbsp maple syrup

⅛ tsp turmeric powder

pinch rock salt

2 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp lime juice

3 Tbsp orange  juice

1 Tbsp vanilla extract


1.  Add coconut milk, agar flakes, maple syrup, turmeric and salt to a medium saucepan; whisk to combine. Bring to boil over high heat, whisking every minute or so. Cover and reduce heat to low – simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, whisking every 5 minutes or until agar is completely dissolved.

2.  Remove from heat and whisk in the lemon, lime and orange juices. Pour into a wide bowl; once mixture stops steaming place it in the fridge until completely hard, about 1 hour.

3.  Remove from fridge, and cut the frosting into chunks. Place in a food processor and add the vanilla.  Blend until completely smooth,  scraping down the sides as necessary. Place in a covered container and refrigerate until ready to use; it will continue to thicken as it cools.

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