Thursday, 19 July 2012

Rosewater Cupcakes

Cupcakes are damn popular these days. Have you noticed that? Every time I turn around, there is some kind of new cupcake show on TV. As far as I can tell, it’s the only show supporting the Oprah Network. That, and “The Killer in Bed” or something like that. (I’m currently unemployed, so I’m allowed to make reference to the Oprah Network without judgment, thank you very much).

They do make for a pretty dessert! 
Now, anyone who knows me knows I hate to bake. I do. And I really hate to bake cupcakes because it’s tense and requires measuring. Ms. Graham, my grade 10 math teacher, will tell you that measurement has never been my forte. However, at the end of the day, cupcakes are pretty and people seem to like them, so I will make a batch occasionally. I just want everyone to know though before we start in that I am not jumping on any sort of cupcake bandwagon. After I post this, plus the brownies I did to begin the blog, I’ve exhausted my baking repertoire and I’ll have to leave it to Kelly and Mummy to give any more dessert recipes.

This whole cupcake thing for me began with a trip to the Asian grocery store in my mum’s town. Before that, I was annoyed with hype of the cupcake and couldn’t be bothered with them. BUT, it was a total delight of a trip, and my mum and I found lots of wonderful treats that you don’t necessarily come across in your local Loblaws (pig uterus, for example… If you have a recipe for that, email us so you can guest blog!)

Anyway, on this trip we stumbled across some rosewater! Maybe this doesn’t excite you like it did for me, because I cried out with joy in the store. It went like this:
Bailey: “Look Mummy! Sweet Jesus, they have rosewater!!”

Mummy: “Get it, Bailey! PUT IT IN THE CART!”

So clearly we were thrilled with this and I came home and instantly began to research uses for rosewater. (You can find some of my research here: ) Rosewater is the elusive holy grail of baking ingredients. In fact, even sharing this recipe is special because right on the bottle of the rosewater it says, “Secret ingredient! Don’t tell people you use this in your baking!” Clearly, it’s a big deal.

The perfect pairing!
The best recipe I came across was for rosewater-vanilla cupcakes. They sounded so lovely and elegant; I couldn’t help but overcome my fear of the measuring cup and try them out. The recipe I used is adapted from this website:, except I use pure vanilla extract and rosewater instead of vanilla bean (I would use vanilla beans if I had $14.00 to spend on one pod of vanilla, but until then the organic pure extract will do). Here’s the recipe:

This is why icing sets are fun. 

·      1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

·      3/4 teaspoon baking powder

·      1/4 teaspoon salt

·      6 tablespoons butter, softened

·      3/4 cup sugar

·      2 large eggs

·      1 teaspoon vanilla extract

·      1 vanilla bean, seeded and hull discarded

·      1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons milk

1. Heat oven to 350°F and line cupcake pan with papers.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until lightened in color and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between additions. Beat in vanilla bean seeds and vanilla extract.
3. Add flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour. When completely incorporated, divide batter evenly amongst liners, filling them 2/3 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, but check them after 15. Cool completely before frosting.

See how annoying baking is? How tedious is that instruction “add milk and flour alternatingly, beginning and ending with milk”? What the hell could possibly go wrong if you ended with milk? ANYTHING. That is the thing about baking. One wrong turn and you’ve got yourself an inedible disaster. As a result, I followed this pretty closely, except of course I replaced the vanilla bean with 1 teaspoon of rosewater.

Now here is piece of advice: lay out all your ingredients when you’re baking before you even get out a mixing bowl. My mother has told me to do this my whole life, and I did not do that this time (nor did I the one time in high school when I made cookies with only half the flour called for and they came out as doilies instead of cookies). I was lucky to make the cupcakes because I barely had enough milk and I had to scrape the dregs out of my sugar bowl to have enough sugar. My mother is so smart; I don’t know why I don’t listen to her more. But anyway, the cupcakes got made and hopefully to God they’re good.
This disaster in my kitchen is only one of many reasons I hate to bake. 

Now the best thing about cupcakes is the icing, and that is also what makes them pretty. I have an icing set, with a pastry bag and everything, so that only adds to the fun. Well, it adds to the fun until you’re actually doing it and you’re on the tenth cupcake and you have a tension knot in your shoulder and your jaw is clenched from concentrating. Plus I had shakier hands today than Lindsey Lohan in Betty Ford, which I can only blame on my level of tension about the baking. I made a buttercream icing, which is very simple. Use one part softened butter to three parts of confectioner’s sugar (icing sugar) plus a splash of cream to make it softer. Don’t use too much cream or your icing won’t hold the shape of the icing tip. I also suggest letting your icing sit in the fridge a few minutes before you use it. Make sure your cupcakes are also cooled completely (if you have zero patience for that kind of thing, as I do, put them in the freezer to cool them faster. This may make them as hard as a rock, but that’s the price you pay for a lack of patience in baking).

Now be creative and ice them in visually attractive ways. And that is all you have to do. Enjoy! (And don’t tell anyone about the rosewater!)

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