We’re finally down to the foothills of the Christmas food mountain. The end is in sight at last… As I’ve said on more than one occasion my approach to hosting is very much in line with Nigella Lawson’s mantra: Never Knowingly Undercatered. Though I do fear that I’ve taken it to a slightly more extreme level. Maybe I should go with: Pretty Much Guaranteed to be Overcatered. 

If you’re coming round for dinner I think it’s best to pre-warn your stomach of what’s heading its way.

It’s not that I don’t have any portion control. When it’s just Michael and I for dinner I am more than capable of cooking enough for two people with minimal waste. As soon as we have a guest that all goes out the window. It’s like I have an almost pathological need to ensure that they won’t leave with even the slightest hint of hunger. I blame my mother for that. We went into Christmas with enough food for 20 people. We had 7 of us on Christmas Day. You see the problem?

Anyway, all that’s left are the last few jars of condiments and pickles – most of which would probably survive a nuclear winter without going bad. Their shelf life is of no interest to me, however. As far as I’m concerned they’re taking up space and need to be used up asap. The jar of Cranberry Sauce has been taunting me for a while now and I was beginning to think I’d never be rid of it. Fortunately that problem has now been solved.

I decided that whilst I was making a batch of Lemon & Poppyseed Cupcakes that I might as well have a full on baking night. I keep a little list of ideas to hand in the kitchen – that I fill in when I see tasty looking things online, in magazines or on menus. I’d been planning to make an Orange & Cranberry cake for some time. It didn’t take long for me to realise that I had an easy replacement for the frozen cranberries I had planned to use. That jar of cranberry sauce would bother me no more!

Of course the end product is just as important as the genesis of the recipe. Fortunately these taste great, with the sweet, citrus flavour throughout the cake and frosting. The chunky cranberry sauce ensures that there’s a little burst of fruit in every mouthful.

Now I don’t have that the jar of cranberry sauce in the cupboard any more there’s a small part of me that’s tempted to replace it. Just in case I feel a baking urge coming on again…

Orange & Cranberry Cupcakes

Orange and Cranberry is a classic flavour combination, which means these cupcakes have both a fresh, citrus flavour with fruity, berry undertones.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Baking, Dessert
Cuisine: Baking, Cakes, Dessert
Servings: 12 cupcakes


for the Cake

  • 225 g Margarine or softened Butter – I use Stork in the UK which makes a really light cake
  • 225 g Caster Sugar
  • 225 g Self-Raising Flour sifted
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 4 large Eggs
  • 2 Oranges zested and juiced
  • 2 tbsp Cranberry Sauce

for the Frosting

  • 50 g Margarine or softened Butter
  • 200 g Icing Sugar sifted
  • 1 Orange zested and juiced
  • 1 tbsp Cranberry Sauce


Make the Cake

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
  • Put cupcake cases into a cupcake tin – depending on the size of your cake tins and cupcake cases this recipe will make 12-24 cupcakes.
  • In a large bowl beat together the sugar and margarine/butter until it’s soft and has lightened in colour.
  • Add in the eggs and mix thoroughly – the batter won’t look very nice at this stage and might appear to have curdled but soldier on! Add in the juice and zest of the oranges and mix.
  • Slowly add in the flour and baking powder at this stage and mix gently until you have a smooth, soft batter – you don’t want to over work the flour, as we’re not making bread. Add the cranberry sauce in drops throughout the batter and mix until well distributed. I like to use a chunkier cranberry sauce to give little pieces of fruit throughout the cakes.
  • Divide the mixture evenly between your cupcake cases and tap the tin gently on the worksurface to release any air pockets. Pop into the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or so, until the surface is golden and bounces back when pressed gently.
  • Remove from the oven and turn out onto a cooling rack. Leave to cool completely.

Make the Frosting

  • In a large bowl beat the margarine/butter until soft then start to slowly add in the sifted icing sugar. Continue to mix until you have a smooth creamy frosting – though it should be quite stiff at this stage.
  • Add in the orange juice, orange zest and cranberry sauce then mix thoroughly – this will make the mixture a lot softer and almost at a thick pouring consistency. It will solidify a bit as it dries but you don’t want it to be too stiff.
  • Decorate the top of the each cupcake with as much, or as little, frosting as you see fit.

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