Orange Marmalade Cupcakes

I’ve heard before that one could get lost in the world wide web. That this vast and amoral thing we call the internet is an easy hiding place. Identities are falsely created. Anyone can be someone they are not, living in a world that is not.

Such deeply sociological, hard-hitting news is why you visit my site, I know.
Which is why I shall devote this post to a segment of BREAKING NEWS.
(And, for added measure, a chatty narrative.)
Consider it a five o’clock news segment with your storytelling grandmama as the anchor…

You may recall I posted my Mitford list last week. It was just a quick sharing of likes and dislikes, as inspired by one of author Jan Karon’s beloved Mitford characters, Cynthia.

That afternoon, I recieved a lovely little comment from Marti who wrote:

Brooke, it’s so funny that I clicked on your blog (from Foodgawker) at this particular time. You’ll have to check out mine… it’s got a mention of Jan Karon’s books, too. I’m so glad to see another fan. :)

Well, I was just plum tickled at the serendipity.
Whatever would inspire both she and I to post about the same book on the same week? I simply HAD to see.

I buzzed over to her site, read her beautifully crafted post, said a hello via comment and went about my merry day. Who’d have ever guessed (EVER GUESSED?!) what would happen next?

Can you?

Can you guess?!

Oh, heck. Here you are for up-to-the-minute news and I’m trying to lead you on. Allright, I’ll tell.

What happened next is later that day, another comment arrived, this one from DWright…

Jan Karon enjoyed your comments about the Mitford books. Jan invited you to visit her website at

Boy. I got a good chuckle out of that one. Jan Karon. Reading my blog comments about her divine little world of books. I snorted heartily, then moved about my merry way. Though it wasn’t long before ANOTHER email arrived. Again, from Marti. Over on her blog, a similar comment had been left. You know, about how Jan Karon had been enjoying her post, too. Hmmmm. We pondered it. Perhaps Jan Karon had actually read our posts.

(I shall here mention that Marti is pretty much the essence of all that is cool. Living in D.C., anyone? News reporter for ABC, anyone? Sender of the worlds most fast and furiously hilarious emails, anyone? Love.her. She also keeps within her mind an incredible store of knowledge. Knowledge which, in our case, helped uncover the truth about the Jan Karon Incident. Clues left in the suspect comments led Marti to ascertain, quite certainly, that Jan Karon had indeed read over our mentions of Mitford. See how hard we work to bring pure, undiluted truth into the headlines of the blogosphere?)

I suppose the whole thing comes together in my mind as a chain of thought, which I dedicate to all of you out there, blogging away, mothering away, whiling away, wondering about the give and take in this wide world of ours. Trying to remember if what your doing matters to anyone. I hope you’ll take Me & Marti’s Parable of Marmalade to heart…

It was a cherished friend who, years ago, introduced me to Jan Karon’s Mitford series. Through Ms. Karon’s stories, I found a welcoming town, old-fashioned warmth and purity, a book full of new friends that felt, somehow, familiar.

Through Mitford, I found Cynthia. It was Cynthia’s character who inspired me to keep a list of likes and don’t likes. It was Cynthia’s letter to Father Tim that inspired me to unzip my soul and write with words that sing from the page. Before her, I wrote horibble things like, “Dear Diary, Today was a good day.”

Through Cynthia, I found Marti. I thank the happy heavens for that quirky post of mine which connected me Marti. Dear, wondrous Marti with whom a handful of emails have already passed. Who’d have guessed we’d share the same alma mater? Who’d have known she graduated in Broadcast Communications from BYU, the very same major I first declared as a freshman there? Dear, lovely Marti. A new friend, who lives a thousand-million miles away, yet who somehow, in the middle of this wildly woven web of the internet, feel like an old chum.

And then, there is the story of when Jan Karon found us.

It’s marvelous–isn’t it?!–how this great big place we call the world wide web can, at times, feel so much
…like Mitford.

Keep doing what you’re doing. You never know who you’ll find.

Or, who will find you.

Mitford Inspired Orange Marmalade Cupcakes

Esther Bolick, of the Mitford series, is known for her diabetic-coma-inducing Marmalade Layer cake, a recipe which Jan Karon has generously shared HERE. But, I have this thing for creating all my recipes from scratchity-scratch-scratch. And so, I set to work revamping this novelized classic in cupcake form. What came out of the oven (and quite promptly, went into our mouths) was a warm white cake with subtle flecks of familiar spices, a buttery whipped frosting, and a surprise dollop of marmalade at the bottom of the cupcake. My husband, who has firmly sworn off most preserves ate one of these cupcakes and asked for a second. Which is the very same thing I did after finishing Jan Karon’s first novel, At Home in Mitford. Thank goodness there’s a whole series (and a cookbook, AND a NEW book!) to devour.
1 egg
3 egg whites
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 stick butter
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. white flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
pinch of cloves
vanilla extract or the seeds scraped from a single vanilla bean
1/2 cup milk

*1 cup of additional marmalade for filling the center of each cupcakes*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together eggs, sugar and butter. Add remaining ingredients and beat just until flour is incorporated. Spoon batter into cupcake liners, filling just the very bottom. Place a 1/2 teaspoon plop of marmalade on top, then fill remainder of cupcake cups with batter until they are about 3/4 full. Bake in preheated oven for 20-22 minutes, or just until top of cupcakes spring back to the touch. Cool then frost.
Marshmallow-Marmalade Frosting
Marshmallow-Marmalade Buttercream
1/4 c. marmalade
1/2 cup marshmallow fluff
2 sticks butter
1 Tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
4-5 cups powdered sugar

Read Marti’s phenomenally told take on our Mitford meeting HERE.
She is, after all, much more accustomed to this news reporting stuff than I. You’re going to simply adore her.