Friday, 16 September 2011

Anti-September Strawberry and Elderflower Cupcakes.

Did you know it's September? Yes really. In fact, did you know it's halfway through September? Now, of course you knew that but have you really thought about what this means. Well firstly it means that I'm wearing tights today

It means that blackberries and apples are on the foraging menu, but on the days that you could go and pick them, there's an actual hurricane blowing- in Scotland! It means that soon, it'll be October, which means I'll get excited about pumpkins, and then it'll be November and bonfires and then it'll be December, dark all the time December, lit only by an insatiable excitement for all things Christmas.

It means summer's behind us for another year. But despite gale force winds and empty park benches, I am not ready to give in yet.

It's not quiiite dark when the alarm goes off, and I'm not Vitamin D deficient yet. More importantly I still have a good stash of strawberries in the freezer and a healthy supply of elderflower cordial and brought together in these cupcakes, sunshine and flowers can be added to the darkest of winter days. Maybe an indoor picnic surrounded by holiday photos would complete the situation and allow us to close our eyes and feel the grass between our toes and the sun kiss our cheeks. With Love and Cake.

Strawberry and Elderdlower Cupcakes
adapted from Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache by Harry Eastwood

A few notes:
  • Courgette? Yes courgette. Just play along and I shall go further into detail about vege cakes another time. I promise, I really will.
  • If you don't have a stash of strawbs leftover from August times, you might be able to catch some super late varieties, otherwise mix it up a bit, use what's available and seasonal. How about blackberries?
  • This butter icing doesn't taste as elderflower-ey as I was hoping for. If a true flower hit is what you've after, it would be best to go for a drizzle icing, just mix 140g icing sugar with 3 tbps elderflower cordial and drizzle over the cakes. I just love butter too much to leave it out. The amounts I've put below make A LOT of icing- but in my view, the more the butter better.
Makes 12
You will need 

a 12 hole muffin tin (not the shallow 'fairy cake' size)

For the cakes
2 eggs
140g caster sugar
200g courgette-topped and tailed and finely grated
3 tbsp elderflower cordial
80g plain flour
120g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
120g strawberries, roughly chopped

For the icing
300g butter at room temperature
150g icing sugar
3 tbsp elderflower cordial

  • Line the muffin pan with muffin cases (again, not the shallower fairy cake ones, the deeper muffin ones) and preheat the oven to 180°.
  • Whisk together the eggs and sugar for a good 5 minutes until pale and voluminous, either with an electric hand whisk or plenty of elbow grease.
  • Stir in the grated courgette and cordial followed by the flour, almonds and baking powder and make sure everything's well combined.
  • Now lightly mix in the strawberries and spoon the mixture into the paper cases so each case is about 4/5 full.
  • Bake for 25 minutes until golden on top- they might still feel a bit squishy but that'll be because of the squishy berries rather than soggy cake batter so don't worry.
  • Leave the cakes in the tin to cool for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire wrack to cool completely before you ice them.
  • To make the icing, whisk the butter for a minute or two so it increases in volume.
  • Whisk in half the icing sugar until a nice paste is formed then finally whisk in the rest of the sugar and cordial.
  • I folded some red colouring into half the icing and then piped it on top of the cake using a piping bag and topped with sweeties. Feel free to do that too, or you could simply spoon the all-white icing evenly over the top of your cakes and maybe top with another strawberry. Either way they will be scrumptious, I'm sure.

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