Preheat the oven to 180˚C/Gas 4. Line a cupcake tray with 6 cases.
To make the cupcakes, cream the butter, vanilla seeds and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Lightly beat the eggs and add them a little at a time to the mixture, mixing again with the electric mixer after each addition until all are incorporated.
Finally sift the flour and baking powder and fold into the batter, along with the orange zest and orange oil/essence.
Divide the mixture between the 6 cases and fill ¾ full. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 mins or until a skewer comes out of the cake clean. Place on a cooling rack.
To make the frosting, mix the two types of cheese with an electric mixer to soften. Then sift in the icing sugar and fold in. Grate in the orange zest and add the orange oil/essence and gently fold until you have a smooth mixture. Add a tiny amount of orange food colouring paste if using (a little on the end of a cocktail stick is a good way to do this). Fold again to add a splash of orange to the frosting. Pipe or spread the frosting with a small palette knife on top of each cooled cupcake.
To decorate, use a zester to remove thin strips from your oranges to make candied orange strips. Place the water and 100g sugar in a pan and heat to boiling, once boiling add the strips of orange zest, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, remove from the heat. Place the remaining 50g caster sugar on a plate, and remove the strips with a fork, a few at a time, lightly coat in the caster sugar. Place on a lined baking sheet for 1 hour to dry out. Once your cupcakes are frosted, place a few strips on top to decorate.
Use foil cupcake cases whenever possible - they help to keep the cakes fresher.
It’s important that you use food colouring paste to colour the frosting, liquid colourings will thin the frosting and spoil the finished look of the cake, making it difficult to frost with and handle.
The creaming stage is vital to ensuring a light sponge, so ensure butter is soft and at room temperature and that you cream butter and sugar until the mixture turns pale and fluffy. This will take a couple of minutes using an electric mixer and ensure your sponge is nice and light.
Time saving tip
Replace the candied orange strips with finely grated orange zest, this will still add colour and bags of delicious orange flavour.