Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Weekend Baking: Rose Water, Pistachio & Raspberry cupcakes

I've called this new feature 'Weekend' Baking but don't worry - I'm not confused about what day of the week it is! Working at a tourist attraction means my working week runs from Thursday - Monday so I have my weekend on a Tuesday and Wednesday. So these tend to be the days I get to play in the kitchen.

When it comes to baking I'm still at the stage where I need to stick to the recipe but I'm hoping the more practice I get the more I will be able to be one of those clever people who just adapt recipes and make stuff up if they feel so inclined!

So here is my first weekend bake:

Rose water, pistachio & raspberry: this is a Middle Eastern combination of flavours that I kept coming across and so decided that it was a sign that I had to give it a go, and I'm glad I did!

Rose water is something I have used before but for the life of me I can't remember what I did with it: must have been a mind-blowing creation... But still I am a little bit scared of it; it's one of those things that has such a distinct flavour and aroma I worry about over using it.

I did a little research before I got started and found that 3 teaspoons of rose water was enough and that I could easily add it to my own plain sponge recipe. Some recipes also suggested using lemon juice, sometimes as much as the juice of one lemon, but I wanted to make sure I didn't overpower the taste of the rose water and just went for a couple of tablespoons (as much as I would use in lemon sponge.)

The smell of rose water is fantastic: it's that soapy, floral smell that reminds me of floral gums or cherry lips. My work colleague's perfume is also laced with it and it always leaves a wonderful smell in the office. For me its tradition personified in a smell. The smell of it as it came out of the oven and when they cake was cooled was just as lovely as when it's in the bottle.

Once you get over the faff of de-shelling the pistaschios, you can appreciate the further element of middle eastern flavour, as well as a wonderful texture and colour. I loved the way they looked crushed and sprinkled over the cupcakes, contrasting with the white buttercream and pink raspberries. 

Raspberries are one of my favourite fruits and I don't find them too sweet so it was the perfect accompaniment to a cake that, overall, wasn't (buttercream aside) overpoweringly sweet.

The cupcake itself was light and moist and just the right amount of rose water came across in each mouthful. The best way to eat this is taking a big mouthful and making sure you taste every one of the ingredients together because the combination of tastes and textures is delicious. I would definitely make these again: for such a powerful ingredient it was such a delicate cake and would be a perfect partner to a glass of champagne on a sunny afternoon. I enjoyed mine with a cup of tea but a girl can dream...

Recipe (makes about 15) 


6oz/150g caster sugar
6oz/150g margarine
3 large eggs
3 tsp rose water
2 tbsp lemon juice
6oz/150g self raising flour
100g chopped and shelled pistachios 


16oz/400g icing sugar 
4oz/100g softened unsalted butter
2tsp rose water
a few tbsp milk as required 

To decorate: 
30 - 35 raspberries, enough to put a couple on each cupcake
50g pistachios, roughly chopped

- cream sugar and margarine until pale and fluffy
- add rose water and lemon juice to the cracked eggs and add a little at a time to the    
  butter mixture, add a spoonful of flour at intervals to stop mixture curdling
- gently fold in half the flour 
- fold in the remaining flour along with the pistachios
- add to cupcake cases and bake on gas mark 4, for 15-20 minutes until springy to touch 
  and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean

- to make the butter cream, cream together butter, icing sugar and rose water until mixed
- add a tablespoon at a time of milk to create your best consistency for piping

- to decorate pipe swirls or spread buttercream on to the cooled cupcakes
- top with a sprinkling of pistachios and finish with a couple of raspberries

Vicky xx

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