Tangelo Dreams

by nike, August 15, 2011

Sunday was a lazy day: the first we’ve had in a long time. We stoked the fire, read the papers, indulged ourselves in a long breakfast of conversation. And later, I baked cupcakes. I used to bake cupcakes every week, for the children. It was a ritual I loved. Something simple and domestic and almost meditative in its ease. As a child, cupcakes were only for birthdays. And for me they still retain all the glamorous associations of birthday parties. Polished shoes and ribboned dresses. Coloured paper napkins, festive paper ribbons and balloons. Party games and sparklers.

Today’s cupcakes were made with tangelo, to satisfy a craving and fill our kitchen with the scent of baking. Ever since we moved to citrus road we’ve had an increased delight in growing, cooking and eating citrus.

Orchard Queen, 1900. Part of the Ted Warmbold Citrus Label Collection at the Autry National Centre.

Tangelos are sometimes also called honeybells: I like the sound of a honeybell cupcake. They’re a hybrid of tangerines and either pomelos or grapefruits. They’re a fairly modern invention: said to have been first produced in 1911, in the United States. Before the first world war; when oranges, and other citrus, were one of the primary crops in Southern California. Theywere shipped in wooden fruit crates with beautiful paper labels: colour lithographs pasted onto the crates that had to be used to ship the fruit across the continent on the new trans-continental railroad lines.

Tangelos are very juicy, with very little flesh. Like a pocket of fruit juice. This makes them perfect for cupcakes – I used the juice and rind to flavour the cake, and the cream cheese frosting, and decorated the tops with a final few ribbons of rind.

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