Orange Tea Cake Cupcakes

From The New Passover Menu by Paula Shoyer; photo by Michael Bennett Kress (Sterling Epicure) Yield:  14 cupcakes
Prep Time:  10 minutes Cook Time:  25 minutes

Orange Tea Cake Cupcakes

"My orange tea cake, flavored with orange and Earl Grey tea, graces the cover of my first book, The Kosher Baker (Brandeis, 2010), and it is one of my most popular recipes. I rarely go more than three weeks without baking it, so I decided that we all need a Passover version. These light, spongy cupcakes share the same flavor profile."--Paula Shoyer, from The New Passover Menu (Sterling Epicure)


For the Cupcakes:

⅓ cup (80 milliliters) boiling water

1 Earl Grey or other black tea bag

1 cup sugar (200 grams), plus 1 teaspoon for the tea

4 large eggs, separated

1¼ teaspoons orange zest (from 1 orange), plus more for garnish, if desired

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (from 1 zested orange)

⅓ cup (45 grams) matzo cake meal

⅓  cup (55 grams  potato starch

Dash salt


For the Icing:

½ cup (60 grams) confectioners’ sugar, plus more if needed

4 teaspoons reserved tea, plus more if needed



  1. To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 375°F. Place paper liners into 14 cups of two muffin tins.
  2. Measure the boiling water into a bowl. Add the tea bag and 1 teaspoon sugar and let steep for 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on low speed, beat the egg yolks, 3 tablespoons of the tea (reserve the rest), orange zest and juice, and sugar. Add the cake meal, potato starch, and salt and beat until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and salt on high speed until stiff peaks form (see From the Test Kitchen). Using a silicone spatula, gently fold the whites into the bowl containing the egg yolk mixture, and then fill the muffin cups three-quarters full with the batter.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and let cool while you make the icing.
  6. To make the icing:  Place the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl. Add 4 teaspoons of the tea and whisk until you have a thick icing. Add more confectioners’ sugar if the icing is too thin, more tea if it is too thick.
  7. To create a button or circle of icing on top of each cupcake, use a 1-teaspoon measuring spoon to scoop up icing and put it into the center of the cupcake, and then spread it slightly. Garnish with additional orange zest if desired. May be made 4 days in advance or frozen.

Kitchen Tips

Note from the Test Kitchen:

When beating egg whites an impeccably clean bowl is a must; even a bit of grease can keep them from firming up to form soft or stiff peaks. Egg whites at the soft peak stage will be glossy and foamy, retain their basic shape but will droop a bit, and won’t entirely cling to the bowl. Egg whites at the stiff peak stage will be glossy and very firm, will retain their shape and cling to the bowl.  They will stand straight up from the overturned beater. Yet they will still be creamy and flexible enough to fold in with other ingredients.


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