Tomorrow (Saturday) my dear friends, Kath and James, are getting married.
Parisian extraordinaire Pierre Hermé invented the ispahan flavour during his time at Ladurée and the lychee, rose and raspberry combination was named Ispahan for the gorgeous pink blush of a Damask rose.
So when Kath, the sweetest friend I know, was having her hen’s afternoon tea I just had to make these cupcakes for her and the girls.
They were a symbolic fit, given Kath had made rosewater cupcakes with me for my own engagement party. And suitably, Kath's hens night theme was Parisian Glamour as she and hubby-to-be were heading to Paris for the honeymoon.
Lychee & Rosewater Cupcakes
Recipe by My Tartlette. Makes 24 cupcakes.
1½ cups self-rising flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup ground almonds
250g unsalted butter, softened
2 cups caster sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup milk
40ml rosewater (2 tablespoons)
24 lychees, stoned and chopped
1. Preheat oven to 180’C. Spray 24 cupcake liners with cooking spray and set them on a baking sheet.
2. In a small bowl, combine the flours and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth.
4. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
6. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk, lychees and rosewater. Do not overbeat.
7. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.
8. Carefully spoon the batter into the liners, leaving space at the top for the cupcakes to rise significantly.
9. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the centre of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
Raspberry Buttercream Frosting
Based on a recipe by CookSister. Makes 1½ cups.
100g butter, room temperature
1¼ cups icing sugar
¼ cup raspberries purée
1. Cream the butter, then add the icing sugar and cream together.
2. Add the puréed raspberries a little at a time until the right consistency is achieved.
3. Use a piping bag or a palette knife to ice the cakes.
Roses are my Weekend Herb Blogging theme ingredient this week, hosted by Astrid from Paulchen's Foodblog, a Viennese food diary.
Roses are a flowering shrub from the family Rosaceae, a group that also includes apples, cherries, peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries and almonds.
Most of the roses we’re familiar with are Asian natives, with smaller groups hailing from Europe, North America and northwest Africa.
High in Vitamin C, rose petals, oils and waters never fell from favour in the food of the Middle East and Asia, and roses are now see a revival in European cooking too, where they were used lovingly from ancient times until as recently as the late 1800s.
I remember my mother was an avid rose gardener. She would lovingly tend to her roses all year long and relish the short, flowering season when the bushes would droop with the heavy petals and the garden was filled with their heady scent.
I remember, after my impossible request for a blue rose, my mother sourced the Blue Moon, a tea rose that would perfume my room with its adorable lilac blooms.
Rose have always represented love and beauty, perhaps because the flower is so delicate and sweet-smelling, but so short lived and balanced carefully on a dangerously prickly stem.
As my two friends tie the knot, I’m reminded of the poet-philosopher Kahlil Gibran whose words on roses are a pithy observation on relationships themselves:
“The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious to the rose.”