When it comes to flowers, I love the girly prettiness of them, but I can't pretend to be a massive enthusiast for the taste of them in my food. Too often the flavour ends up so soapy I feel more inclined to spritz it on my wrist, than stick it in my cake hole. I prefer oranges to orange blossom and rosemary to roses, but when I make a chocolate and lavender cake or some orange blossom and pistachio cupcakes people seem to become maddened by delight. There is something so elegant, delicate and pretty about cakes with flowers in, and although I would never personally opt for a floral sponge if chocolate and port cake was on offer, I can recognise that, for others, flowery food brings them as much pleasure as ginger does me. Both flavours are palate cleansing and after all the rich food of Christmas, something fresh and invigorating is just the ticket.
This is a great time of year for cake eaters and bakers alike, as there are still a few glorious days left before the new year, new guilt diets kick in, as well as enough visitors knocking on the door to make whisking up a batch of cupcakes an entirely necessary indulgence.
A friend of mine recently told me that she loves floral flavours above all else (I think it might be because she is named after a flower) and as it is the season of good will, I thought I would post a recipe for my lemon and rose cupcakes especially for her and all my other floral friends.
Lemon and rose water cupcakes
(Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 160 Fan and line a 12 hole cupcake tray with cupcake cases. If you don't have a cupcake tray, you can use a 6" round tin instead or double the quantities for a loaf tin).
4 oz (100 g) caster sugar
3 eggs, separated
2 fl. oz (50 ml) sunflower oil
2 fl. oz (50 ml) water
4 oz (100 g) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
Zest and juice of 1 large unwaxed lemon
1 - 2 tsp rose water
1/2 tsp salt
Rose water buttercream
4 oz (100 g) softened butter
8 oz (200 g) icing sugar, sifted
2 tsp rose water
A dash of milk
- Place the egg yolks in a large bowl with half the sugar and whisk until pale and fluffy.
- Continue whisking on a low speed (if using an electric hand whisk) and gradually drizzle in the oil. Once combined, continue whisking and drizzle in the water, lemon juice and rose water.
- Sift over the flour, baking powder and salt and fold in until thoroughly combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they begin the foam and froth, then add the remaining sugar and whisk to the stiff peak stage (so that when you upturn the bowl, the egg whites don't fall out).
- Stir the lemon zest into the flour and egg yolk mixture and then fold in the meringue (egg white and sugar) until thoroughly combined.
- Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases and bake for 20 - 25 mins or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave in the tin for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. You can make the cakes more lemon-y by stabbing the cakes all over with a skewer and pouring a lemon syrup (place the juice of half a lemon and 2 oz (50 g) caster sugar in a saucepan over a very gentle flame and stir until the sugar has dissolved) over their tops while they are still warm.
- For the buttercream, beat the butter until really creamy, whisk through the rose water and then beat in the icing sugar. Add a splash of milk to slacken the buttercream slightly if need be and beat together until really creamy.
- Spread the buttercream on the cupcakes with a small palette knife or pipe on with a no. 8 star or plain nozzle.
- I have decorated mine with simple roll roses. You simply roll out a piece of sugarpaste (I dyed mine hot pink) quite thinly, to a length of about 6cm and a width of about 2cm. Roll the strip up, choose your favoured end for the top and pinch off the bottom, then smooth over. I also made little green leaves from more sugarpaste dyed green and pinched off and shaped little leaf shapes. Alternatively just top with a sprinkle of crystalised rose petals.