Orange-Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Buttercream Poppies

Photo: Ditte Isager
Prep Time:
1 hr
Total Time:
2 hrs 30 mins

The orange flavor in these O comes from zest in the batter and two brushings of fresh juice once they're baked. A beautiful buttercream poppy sits atop each one, hinting at the seeds within.


  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

  • ½ salt

  • ¾ cup whole milk

  • 2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest, plus ½ cup fresh orange juice (from about 3 oranges)

  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1 ½ cups sugar

  • 3 large eggs

  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds

  • Vanilla-Buttercream Frosting and Poppies


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 20 cups of two 12-cup muffin tins with baking cups. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a bowl. Stir together milk and 1/4 cup orange juice.

  2. Beat butter, 1 1/4 cups sugar, and the orange zest with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Beat in poppy seeds.

  3. Divide batter among muffin tins (filling each cup two-thirds full). Bake until golden around the edges, 18 to 20 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, bring remaining 1/4 cup orange juice and remaining 1/4 cup sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Let stand until ready to use.

  5. Brush warm cupcakes with half the orange juice mixture. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack, and let cool for 30 minutes.

  6. Brush cupcakes again with remaining orange juice mixture, and let cool completely.

  7. Frost cupcakes with untinted buttercream. Top each with a buttercream poppy.

Cook's Notes

Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

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