I have been accused of being a girly girl – based, I think, on my fondness for wearing colourful dresses and pink lipstick – yet when it comes to the food I cook, I don’t go for pretty. Twirly cupcakes with fancy frosting look like too much hard work: I just want to have my cake and eat it, now. Occasionally I’ll whip some cream, but mostly my cakes go unadorned (naked!).
These cupcakes are unabashedly feminine, even without the cake-world accessories of frosting or sprinkles or shiny silver cachous (though I did make these in some very girly cupcakes, all wavy bands in a perfect lipstick shade!).
It’s the rosewater that does it: so fragrant and heady, it evokes turkish delight and blousy David Austin roses and the colour pink. A little swirl of strawberry jam adds to the sweet flavour and tints the batter a delicate blush (sadly, the hue fades with baking). And I can’t think of a better word to describe the final little cakes than ‘fluffy’.
These were strange cakes in the making. There was hardly any butter, so it didn’t ‘cream’ with the sugar but resembled coarse sand; with the remaining dry ingredients added in it looked like crumbly almond meal. However adding the milk transformed this dubious texture to a smooth, mousse-like batter. They baked beautifully, with a perfectly flat top, just made for decorating with great swirls of frosting if you so desired.
The starting point was a rosewater cupcake recipe photocopied from (I think) a Hummingbird Bakery cookbook borrowed from the library. I halved the original recipe and ended up with ten cupcakes.
- Preheat oven to 180 and line your muffin tins with pretty cupcake papers.
- Use a hand-held electric whisk to combine 40 gms soft butter with 140 gms sugar.
- Sift in 120 gms plain flour, ½ tbspn baking powder and a big pinch of salt into the butter/sugar. Mash it in using a silicone spatula and/or your fingers – it should resemble almond meal.
- In a measuring jug, combine 130 ml full-fat milk with 1 egg and give it a quick whisk with a fork (just to break the egg up). Add 2 tspns rosewater (I use the Queens brand from the supermarket, so adjust if your brand is stronger or more subtle).
- Pour this into the dry ingredients, add 2 tbspns strawberry jam, and use your electric whisk to combine all the ingredients – it should foam up to a beautiful creamy mousse (licking the bowl is definitely required for this recipe).
- Divide the mixture between your muffin cases. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden on top and a skewer comes out clean.