Sunday, March 25, 2012

Saffron & Rose Cupcakes

When I was 16 years old my sister and her boyfrfiend took me for dinner at a restaurant called Zorba The Buddha. I was utterly thrilled with this outing as it was in the city, to be specific, it was in Darlinghurst which was in my opinion, edgey, and it was on a school night! Zorba The Buddha was in fact run by Orange People. Or to be precise, the followers of the Bagwan Rajneesh who was at the time embroiled in some kind of sex scandal.

His followers dressed in robes dyed the same saffron colour as that of the Hari Krishnas and ran the restaurant presumably to raise money for their cult. Whatever the Bagwan was up to, it had no effect on the food served at the restaurant, or the jazz music played by the saffron clad staff. I can still hear the strains of the trumpet today.

But recently when I watched a documentary about the origins of saffron, it wasn't the Bagwan and his cult that immediately came to mind. It was whether or not saffron could be incorporated into a cupcake. Saffron is actually the thin thread centre of a purple crocus-like flower. It's grown in thE deserts of Morocco and is hand picked, dried in the sun, then shipped to the markets where it fetches an enormous price. I wondered whether it would make sense to put such an expensive spice into cupcakes. But since the saffron I have was just sitting in the cupcoard, I thought why not!? See what you think!

Ingredients
125g butter
1 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
1.5 cups self raising flour
a big pinch of genuine saffron threads
the seeds of one vanilla pod

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line a muffin tin with cup cake papers - you'll get between 12 - 16 cupcakes out of this mix.
2. Place all ingredients in the bowl of your Kitchenaid and mix on first gear to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate any unmixed ingredients. Increase speed to sixth gear and beat for three minutes.
3. Drop spoonfuls of mix into each cupcake paper. I use a size 6 icrecream scoop to get each cake the exact same size.
4. Bake for 20 minutes or until cakes are golden brown and spring back when touched.
5. Cool on a wire rack.

Icing
500g pur icing sugar
75g softened butter
1 tsp rose water essence
6 drops pink food colouring
3 tblsp milk
3 tblsp water

1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of your Kitchenaid, then increase speed to sixth gear. Beat until all ingredients are well combined.
2. Pipe icing onto cold cakes and decorate with a sugar flour.

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