White Spice Walnut Orange Cupcakes


Every year as the days begin to shorten and the oppressive heat begins to fade, swarms of grackles start dotting the landscape. The small black birds ominously flock from tree to tree, from power lines to roof tops and from fences to yards in menacing numbers. I play along and walk from my car to my house in a slow–hopefully they wont notice me–fear as I am reminded of scenes from Hitchcock’s The Birds. I inevitably drop something or snap a twig with my clumsy feet. Crowds of the dark birds stop their foraging and all turn their heads, locking their beady eyes on me as if to mark me as lunch. As quick as I grab their attention though they all hop into the air and glide down the street to safety.


They flood into every crevice of available space out of no where as if hiding through spring and summer waiting just for halloween. To some these great-tailed grackles are a menace. To me, they are a welcome sight. Their distinctive calls signal the coming fall and like the smells of apple pies baking they flood my mind with thoughts of years past. The idiosyncratic, scratchy, harsh songs delight my ears and promises a new season, new weather, and a time of celebration as holidays seem to precede, follow, sit in between and exist at the same time as numerous other holidays.


Soon mornings will be filled with brisk air, yards with halloween decorations, and kitchens with apples, pears, pumpkin, candy and more. Berries are traded for spices. Ice cream makers are tucked away and cookie cutters are given their own drawer again. While I often consider summer to be one long glorious holiday, I still consider autumn’s two holidays–Halloween and Thanksgiving–to be my favorites. And while I adore all the foods that symbolize summer, I find myself comforted and my heart warmed by the foods that make fall special.



The spices in this cupcake–the same I use time and time again in my apple and pear pies–remind me of cool weather, soft sweaters, and delicious food. The orange adds a sweet citrusy backing to the spices–a sort of goodbye to summer–and the walnuts add a delicious, nutty crunch. The white pepper adds a strange but delightfully scrumptious twist that makes these cupcakes one of my favorites. In fact, I ate three while I shot this post.


White Spice Walnut Orange Cupcakes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This recipe will yield 12 cupcakes. I have modified this recipe from a Bo Friberg recipe. As always you can substitute 7 ounces all purpose flour for the bread and cake flour.
Recipe by:
Makes: 12 cupcakes
  • 5 ounces cake flour
  • 2 ounces bread flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • 5 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5 ounces granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 ounces chopped walnuts
  1. Line a muffin pan with 12 cupcake paper cups. Preheat an oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine the flours, baking powder and soda, spices and pepper in a bowl. Mix until evenly distributed. Set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together in another bowl until light and fluffy about 3 minutes.
  4. Mix in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the vanilla and orange zest and mix in well.
  5. Add half of the dry ingredient mixture to the butter mixture and mix well. Pour in the buttermilk  and mix well. Add the remaining dry mix and mix until combined.
  6. Toss the walnuts in just a little flour to coat. Add the walnuts to the batter and mix until evenly distributed.
  7. Pour the batter into the lined muffin pan cups. The batter should just come to the top of each cup.
  8. Bake at 350°F for 16 to 18 minutes until a toothpick comes out barely clean--a few straggler crumbs is ok.


Before icing the cupcakes be sure to let them cool completely. This cream cheese frosting is not as stiff as buttercream so you may want to refrigerate the cupcakes after icing.


White Spice Walnut Orange Cupcakes
Prep time
Total time
This recipe has been modified from numerous sources.
Recipe by:
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, at room temp.
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter, at room temp.
  • 12 ounces powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Cream the cream cheese until it is light and soft about a minute or two. Add the butter and cream another minute.
  2. Add the sugar, zest and extract and beat, careful not whip air into it, until the frosting comes together.
  3. Using an icing spatula or a piping bag and tip of your choice, ice each cupcake.
  4. Sprinkle crushed walnuts over the frosting.




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AUTHOR - Russell van Kraayenburg

Food nerd. Cookbook author. Founder of Chasing Delicious. Pastry cook at Fluff Bake Bar. Lover of hot dogs. Russell van Kraayenburg founded Chasing Delicious in 2010 and has been chasing delicious recipes ever since. Russell is author of the cookbooks Haute Dogs and Making Dough.


  • Rosemary Mullally

    Your photos are incredible!

  • Helene

    I have never had an orange flavored cupcake before and I was surprised to see bread flour in the ingredients. I am back baking so that could be one recipe to try. You did so good with your pictures!

  • Joy

    The cupcakes look great.

  • spiceblogger

    Beautiful. Beautiful photos. Beautiful writing. Delicious food.
    <3 Love

  • Dee at Deelicious Sweets

    You had me at cream cheese frosting! You always make such beautiful cupcakes! I did check out your video the other day. The one where you romantically run along with your cupcake, LOL! You sure do love your cupcakes :)

  • RavieNomNoms

    Always such a pleasure to come and see your blog. You have a gift with words and photos. Truly. These cupcakes are simply amazing

  • The Mom Chef ~ Taking on Magazines One Recipe at a Time

    I don’t know about grackles. I’m old enough to remember watching “The Birds” and freaking out every time I saw too many of our feathered friends congregating.

    These cupcakes, however, I’ll let them congregate in my kitchen all they want. I love the addition of the white pepper!

  • Steph@stephsbitebybite

    How amazing do these look? And I love that it’s time to “spice” up the baked goods!

  • Sarah

    These look incredible! I love when people use spices in sweet foods!

  • Paula @ Dishing the Divine

    these are gorgeous!!! :) I love it :)

  • Kathleen

    Hello. I just found your blog. These cupcakes sound delicious and your images are incredible!

  • Tina@flourtrader

    This is a great in between season cupcake-it has the spices of fall and the citrus of summer! Not that easy to pull off but I think you did a great job on the flavor selection. Your pictures are stunning-Great post.

  • Cucina49

    These look great, and I love the styling of the photos.

  • Cassie @ Bake Your Day

    I agree with you, the flavors of fall are like no others. So comforting and heart-warming. I love your writing style Russel. These cupcakes look delicious too!

  • Maggie @MaggieCooks

    Your pictures are so gorgeous! :)
    I know my grandpa is going to love this!
    Bookmarked it! :)

  • Lynn @ I'll Have What She's Having

    Love the fall flavours in these cupcakes. So warming!

  • kita

    When I was little waiting for the school bus, those black birds in their massive swarms, scared the living daylights out of me! Guess I was just too little for Hitchcock. These cupcakes look perfect though with their beautiful spices and citrus!

  • FreeSpiritEater

    I can see how they’re addicting, the flavors are brilliantly combined and the photos are absolutely stunning! Thanks so much for sharing, buzzed it =]

  • Happy When Not Hungry

    These look amazing! I love the spice and orange combo. Yum!

  • Linda @ Lemon Drop

    These are beautiful. And what a lovely way to flavor a cupcake ! Perfect presentation :)

  • Krissyp

    Great photos, love that you ate three during the shoot lol! Your writing is beautiful and put me into a fall state of mind. Absolutely beautfully executed…and original!

  • Stephanie

    This might be my favorite post yet. The cupcakes are like the perfect transition from summer to fall with the citrus for summer and the spices and walnuts for fall. Beautiful writing and photographs

  • Sasha @ The Procrastobaker

    Oh these look like absolute perfection, such smiley flavour combinations :) really beautiful

  • Ken @ hungry rabbit

    I love a white boy, oh I mean cake, especially if they have a hint of spice and sass. Again, I’m talking about the cupcakes.

  • Lilly

    You always make it look so pretty! I wish I had your talent for baking and photography.

  • Emma

    What lovely photos and a gorgeous recipe.

    I love the Autumn prose, Autumn is a far superior season to Summer IMO, although that could be because I live somewhere uncomfortably hot in summer!

  • Ira Rodrigues

    i like all the ingredients contents of your recipe, scrumptious! the photos, absolutely beautiful!

  • Kim Bee

    Great recipe. I just love your writing style and photos. I have to admit I am trying to find The Birds on DVD so my kids can watch it. Does that make me a bad mom? Lol

  • Kathryn

    I love your photographs, they’re so filled with light and colour. And a wonderful recipe too.

  • My Fudo

    I love your frosting. It looks so delectable. My kids will definitely indulge with it.

  • alanabread

    these look divine – your photography is absolutely wonderful.

  • Nicole, RD

    STUNNING! There is nothing more to say! Absolutely stunning!

  • Chef Dennis

    this is a great time of year, I love how cool it gets and the fall fruits and veggies just call to you! Thanks for sharing that beautiful and I’m sure delicious cupcake with us!

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food

    The inclusion of white pepper had me screaming with joy (whoops… did that sound dirty???) What a gem these baked treats are! You really nailed this one with some incredible flavors.

  • Jason @ Bespoke Spices

    Just agreeing with others…The cupcakes LOOK and sound fabulous!

  • torviewtoronto

    delicious looking flavourful cupcakes

  • Elies_Lie

    Everytime I come here, I will always being torture with your photos & the list of the ingredient! HA!
    U’re a truly baker Russel! ;)

  • Trevor Sis. Boom.

    So beautiful! And you had the decency to include a glass of milk in the photo because I surely would want one before I had a second one of these beauties!

  • Beth Michelle

    Oh how I wish I was entering fall! I will just have to live vicariously through blogs and these amazing cupcakes! They look just fabulous.

  • Amy

    These are perfect for fall. Especially right now when it is still early fall before I am bombarded with all things pumpkin (although I do LOVE pumpkin) Beautiful recipe and photos. Love the pepper element. I have been seeing a lot of this lately and have yet to actually try it in any of my desserts. I better get on it!

  • Eliot

    Love cardamom and the rest of these spices! What a great festive fall dessert! I may make them for co-workers soon (if they are lucky:)!) Buzzed it!

  • Miho-chan

    beautiful! love the photos.

  • Magic of Spice

    These are just gorgeous! Lovely flavor pairing as well :)

  • Sandra

    White pepper, I am intrigued.

  • Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen

    There’s something about those spices that just make you long for those cooler days of fall where you can cozy up with these warming spices.

  • baconandbaileys

    Stunning photos – love love LOVE the spiciness factor!!

  • Augustine

    Great recipe! A week after I saw these, they were cooling on the counter. Yum!
    Also, I like the photos. They remind of fall trees whose red and yellow leaves are drifting in a golden-lit meadow of grass.

  • Jen @ Chocotuile

    Your pictures look amazing! I love cardamom!
    I’m in a citrus-y mood as well. I just baked a lemon honey cake:

  • A Year in Review and a Tale of a Stolen Turkey | Chasing Delicious

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