This week's recipe comes from that most excellent tome, 500 Cupcakes by Fergal Connolly. The recipe appealed to me because not only is it simple, but it yields cupcakes that are deliciously fragrant and zesty.

OK, so get ready to make Spiced Sour Cream Cupcakes! (Please note, the original recipe uses pecans instead of almonds and orange instead of lemon. I changed it because I didn't have those things lying around my kitchen today. Oh yeah, and I also added the mixed peel, just to give the recipe a bit more zing.)

For the base you will need:

190g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
175g brown sugar
175 ml sour cream
2 eggs
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice
1 handful of sultanas
1/2 handful of chopped almonds
1/2 handful of mixed peel

For the topping you will need:

250g cream cheese
50g icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice

What you do:

1. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C and line a cupcake tray with paper liners.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spice into a large bowl and set aside.

3. Crack the eggs into another large bowl and add the sour cream. Whisk. Beat in the brown sugar.

4. Add the dry mixture a little at a time and mix until smooth. Fold in the sultanas, mixed peel and almonds. Mix well.

5. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners. Bake for 20 minutes.
Put the cupcakes on a rack to cool.

6. To make the icing, mix the cream cheese, icing sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice until smooth.

7. Spread onto the completely cooled cupcakes. Dust with a sprinkling of cinnamon.

8. Go forth and find a random stranger to share your cupcakes with. Alternatively, scoff the lot on your own.

And the eighth random recipient is...


...You Young from South Korea!

I met You Young as I was walking in to town this morning. Even though it was pretty hot, I had decided that I was going to take my time selecting my random recipient. I walked around for quite a while because I wasn't really getting the right vibe from anyone. That is, until I came across You Young.

At first, I wasn't sure if she understood what I was raving on about, but it turns out she comprendez-ed moi just fine. I think that maybe she was just a bit surprised by my act of cupcake randomness (which, I have to admit is most people's initial reaction). When I explained my mission to her, she laughed and accepted my cupcake. We ended up chatting for a little while - it turns out that You Young is a newly graduated teacher back in Seoul, but is on a bit of a working holiday in Oz. By the way, she said she was looking for some volunteer teaching work , so if anyone reading this can help her out, just leave a comment on this blog.

You Young seemed like she really dug her random cupcake and that made me feel happy and at peace with the world. If you're reading this, You Young, thank you for being open to my random act of cupcake. I hope you enjoyed it and that you have a great time in Australia.

Until next time, my friends, keep smiling and most importantly, be random!

I've been feeling a bit frazzled lately, so this post is going to be uber-short. OK, so this morning I divined this week's cupcake recipe by doing the eenie-menie-minie-mo thing on the index page of the cupcake recipe book. My finger landed on Citrus Yoghurt Cupcakes, which was a relief because it is such a super-simple recipe.

This is what you need:

200g plain flour
175g caster sugar
1 tbsp lime zest
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp orange zest
1 tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt
225 ml natural yoghurt
115 ml sunflower oil
1 egg

This is what you do:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Line a cupcake tin with paper cases.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, citrus zests, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

3. In another large bowl, combine the yoghurt, oil and egg.

4. Add the dry mixture to the wet. Mix until just combined.

5. Spoon batter into the cupcake cases and bake for 20 minutes.

6. Serve with a dollop of natural yoghurt.

7. Eat and enjoy with a nice cuppa chai.

De-frazzle with a lovely afternoon tea
I'm so frazzled, I almost settled down for a cuppa and a nana nap after I took the above photo.
Better hit the road before I slip into a coma.

Mission accomplished.

So frazzled was I that I decided to loiter outside my abode for my random stranger. After five minutes or so, an old geezer dressed in ridiculous camo gear, like he was on safari in the Congo, walked by. I summoned up every ounce of niceness in my body and asked him if he would like to receive a free cupcake as part of my blog project, to which the rude mofo replied by waving his arms at me as though I was some pesky insect in need of swotting.

I have to say that so far the elderly are NOT acquitting themselves well in this social experiment of mine.

Anyway, so after that, I decided to take a stroll down the road to chill out. Not long after, I came across this fella. 
Meet Russell. He's a gardener and he looked like he was coming home after a hard day's yakka. When I told him my spiel about the cupcakes, he was good enough to say Alright, why not? and accepted my cupcake in the spirit of openness and friendliness in which I endeavoured to give it. Good on you, Russell, and I hope the rest of your day is awesome.
Unless you've been hiding out in a cave in Afghanistan lately, you would have noticed that a cupcake tsunami has been sweeping the world. Just google the term cupcakes, randomly choose a site and you will invariably find yourself ogling the pint-sized supermodels of the baking world. These mini confections primp, pout and pose for the camera, smug in the knowledge that they are the 'it' girls on the recipe runway. Unlike their human super-model counterparts, though, these girls are positively brimming with calories. Just take the sickly-sweet super-blobs of icing that commonly adorn the tops of cupcakes now. These sugary augmentations are the wonder bras of the cupcake world - seductive, but when you get down to business, ultimately disappointing.

So this week, I've chosen a simple recipe called Simple Vanilla and Agave Cupcakes. Agave is a spiky plant from Mexico which yields a nectar that can be used as a sugar substitute in cooking. This recipe comes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I've ended up de-veganising it by using cow's milk instead of soy milk and adding a cream cheese topping.

Special thanks to my nice friend Chris, who kindly gave me a bottle of agave syrup to experiment with.

For the base you will need:

2/3 cup milk (soy or cow's)
2/3 cup agave syrup
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil (veggie oil is also OK)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/3 cups plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

For the topping you will need:

150g light cream cheese
2 tsp agave syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

This is what you do:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C. Line a cupcake tine with paper cases.

2. Mix the milk and vinegar in a large bowl. Set aside for a few minutes so that the milk curdles.

3. Beat in the agave syrup, oil and vanilla and almond extracts. Then sift in the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix until smooth. Don't worry if the batter seems runny. Have faith in the force, Luke.

4. Pour the batter into the paper cases. Fill each one 2/3 of the way.

5. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and put cupcakes on rack to cool.

6. To make the topping, beat the softened cream cheese, agave syrup and vanilla essence until smooth.

7. Spread a modest amount of icing on each cupcake. Remember, we want humble - not whoreish.

Makes 11 or 12 cupcakes.

Simple, not showy.

Later that day...

So I just got back from pounding the pavements in search of a random recipient. And boy, is it hot out there today. Anyway, I came across a young fella directing traffic around a construction site. I ran the spiel by him and he said yay to the cupcake, but nay to having his photo taken. I can respect that. Anonymity is a rare thing these days. Anyway anonymous Ash, if you're reading this, I hope you enjoyed the random cupcake. If I'd known how hot it was outside today, I would have also brought along some random buckets of icy cold water. Keep up the good work, mate, and I hope the days get a lot cooler for you.

So, that's all until next week, friends. In the meantime, stay random!