Let’s Be Pen Pals

Good Morning Lovelies,

Hooray for Saturday! I am pretty excited about this week’s blog post. Apart from giving you an incredibly delicious cupcake recipe, I am doing a little happy dance because I am on the cusp of a very grand adventure and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. 

First of all, let me tell you about these cupcakes. Don’t be put off by the use of herbs. The rosemary is very subtle and complements the orange zest beautifully. My favourite part of making these cupcakes is rubbing the orange zest and finely chopped rosemary into the sugar, which infuses both flavours more fully into the mixture. It’s just so satisfying. 

To give you extra bang for your buck, each cupcake has a tangy orange marmalade centre. Although I’m not much of a marmalade fan, I found that Beerenberg Breakfast Marmalade is delicious and not as bitter as others. For something different I chose to use milk chocolate for the Swiss meringue buttercream, which basically turns this cupcake into a next level taste sensation.

Orange, Rosemary & Chocolate Cupcakes

This lovely light cupcake is subtley infused with orange zest and finely chopped rosemary, giving it a delicate, aromatic flavour. The milk chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream complements the overall combination without dominating the taste.


  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 cups plain flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups castor sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1 zest of 1 large orange
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup (approx) of orange marmalade

Milk Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups castor sugar
  • 300 grams salted butter, chopped
  • 200 gram block milk chocolate, melted


  • Preheat oven to 180C
  • Line two muffin trays with 18 cupcake liners
  • In a medium bowl, hand whisk eggs, oil, sour cream, vanilla bean paste
  • Add warm water, whisk until well combined. Set aside
  • In another bowl, sift together flour, bicarb soda and baking powder.
  • Carefully add castor sugar but DO NOT mix.
  • Using your fingers, rub orange zest and chopped rosemary into sugar until well combined and fragrant. Add to flour mix anf hand whisk together.
  • Slowly pour wet mix into dry mixture. Hand whisk until well combined
  • Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake in a moderate oven for 18 minutes or until firm to touch. Cool on a wire rack.
  • When cool, use an apple corer to scoop out the centre of each cupcake. Put marmalade into a piping bag (or just use a teaspoon, but an icing bag is easier), snip the tip and squeeze into each cupcake.
  • Frost with buttercream.

Milk Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, add egg whites and sugar. Place bowl over a saucepan with 2cm water in it on the stove, like a double boiler. Hand whisk mixture until combined. Whisk every few minutes until sugar has dissolved and you can't feel anymore sugar grains.
  • Put bowl onto electric mixer and using the whisk attachment, whisk on high for about 5 minutes or until you have stiff meringue peaks.
  • Turn mixer onto low and add cubes of butter two at a time until all butter is incorporated.
  • Keep mixing for about ten minutes. The buttercream will go through a few stages, firstly deflating and looking like soup. Then it will curdle, resembling scrambled eggs. Finally, it will come together to look like silky smooth buttercream. Thsi can take up to 15 minutes. If it's still not coming together, refridgerat for 10 minutes, then keep whisking on low.
  • When buttercream is smooth, add cooled melted chocolate and keep mixing on low until combined and completely irresistable. Pipe onto cupakes.

Some of you may remember last year when I posted about my Cake vigilante road trip. One cool weekend in Winter I decided to run away from home with my kids buttercream cake and camera, stopping along the roadside and in quirky towns to photograph my kids cake, capturing the essence and true beauty of the country. Actually, I was just fed up with domestic bliss and wanted a break from bickering children. But I tell you what, I had the best little road trip and took some really cool photos. You can read parts 2 and 3  here and here. 

If you read those posts, you will notice that one of my long held dreams has been to go to Broken Hill. As a child I spent many holidays out at Cobar, in Western NSW, on holidays with my cousins who lived there. The rich red dirt was intoxicating for my young imagination and I fell in love with the wide open spaces.

As a parent, I have longed to show my children the beauty of the west I experienced as a child. I often talk about taking them on a road trip, which has been met with much excitement. Not really, they all think it’s a wretched idea and can’t believe I would even think of dragging them that far from the beach. 

No matter how hard I have tried to convince them that our country is spectacular and has so much more to offer than a gorgeous coastline, none of my dear treasures show any interest in driving that far (slackers).

SO, In a rare moment of ingenious brilliance, I decided to bite the bullet and drive myself out to Broken Hill. Still having four darlings at home and an empty nest a long eight years away (sigh), its impractical for both hubby and I to go alone, and I’m over trying to negotiate with teenagers, so it’s just me baby.

I am woman, hear me roar.

My ultimate dream of course is to be a big girl and drive my vintage caravan out there, but I don’t even know how to hook it up and yes, I guess it’s not really a sensible thing to do alone, so I decided that cheap motel rooms can be just as adventurous, well sort of.

With my husband’s blessing and much relief from the children, I am unleashing my stifled free spirit and heading out west!! Woo hoo! Can you believe it? I certainly can’t. The only problem is that I may be tempted to keep on driving and not come back. (Shh, I have my eye on Adelaide).

Me being me, I am taking two buttercream cakes and half a van full of props to photograph. I also decided to feed my inner hippy and cover all the van seats with op shop crochet blankets, decorate the dash and hang dried flowers from the mirror. I just wish I had time to paint flowers on the outside of the van.

Oh, and the best part is that once I get to Broken Hill I am staying in a cute cottage on a large sheep station with sensational sunsets, all by myself with my camera, books, stitching and journals. Ahhh, bliss. I think I’m about to burst into tears (nope, that’s probably just the hormones).

My wish is that you will join me on this remarkable adventure. It might not be the great roads through Europe, but to me this is just as marvellous an opportunity. My life is still very much in the glorious, all consuming trenches of motherhood, and to be able to steal away alone, even for a week, is nothing short of miraculous, and deeply meaningful. 

Next week I will share photos of my cakes, taken along dusty roadsides, in front of rustic, time worn fences and breathtaking sunsets. I will try to capture the brutal beauty of the desert and resilient spirit of those in rural Australia. Alone with my camera, I hope to walk the streets of Broken Hill unnoticed with eyes to see.

So please join me. Check in with me on instagram (@mamabears_kitchen) through the week and make sure to grab a cuppa and settle in next Saturday morning for my blog post. 

Oh my heart! How absolutely thrilling! Yep, I’m about to burst.

Until next week,

Love Anna xx

“Then something Tookish woke up inside him,

and he wished to go and see the great mountains,

and hear the pine- trees and the waterfalls,

and explore the caves,

and wear a sword instead of a walking – stick.”








1 comment

  • I am so excited for you, my dear friend, that you have this adventure before you! Praying It will be one of God’s abode and beyond blessings for you xxxxx

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