This was a landmark weekend for me – the start of my new fortnightly baking column, ‘A Piece of Cake’ in Mint newspaper. I’m particularly excited because although I’ve been writing for British newspapers for over 10 years and have written weekly columns before, this is the first time I’ve had my own little space to write about my passion: food!
The column will be fortnightly in the Lounge lifestyle section of Mint on Saturdays and will focus on baking. I’m particularly thrilled to be doing a baking column because I know a lot of people are terrified of the prospect of baking at home and I want to show that with a few basic techniques, anyone can rustle up wonderful cakes, biscuits, pies. I hope to pass on some of what I’ve picked up over the years – I’ve been baking since I was a kid and learned most of what I know from my Mum who was an ace baker.
I’m keen also mix up traditional British baking methods with some of the wonderful local ingredients.This week, for instance, I focused on cupcakes with a crushed mulberry icing. Mulberries are in season for a few weeks right now and for me they’re even more exotic than mangoes. At least we get imported Alphonsos at our local Pakistani grocers in Edinburgh – I’d never seen a mulberry till I came to India. The recipe can also be adapted to use any soft fruit – they’re particularly delicious with raspberries as in the picture above.
Here’s the recipe
Crushed Mulberry Cupcakes
225g plain flour mixed with 2 level teaspoons of baking powder
pinch of salt
125g unsalted butter
175g vanilla sugar (sugar in which a couple of vanilla pods have been stored – much nicer than synthetic vanilla essence)
200ml soured cream
finely grated zest of one lemon
2 egg yolks
175 ml milk
250g icing sugar, sifted
handful of fresh purple mulberries, hulled
a squeeze or two of lemon juice
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper cases (you’ll have to make two batches to use up all the mixture)
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
Beat together the vanilla sugar and butter until pale and fluffy. In another bowl, beat together the soured cream, lemon zest, egg, egg yolks and milk until well mixed.
Gradually add the egg and cream mixture to the butter and sugar. When the mixture is completely smooth, carefully fold in the flour. When all the ingredients are combined, spoon the mixture into the muffin cases to about three quarters full – you need to leave room for the icing.
Bake for about 20 minutes. These cupcakes don’t brown on top but they’re done when you press the sponge and it springs back.
While the cupcakes are in the oven, make the icing. Carefully hull the mulberries – you don’t want any traces of stalk to interfere with the luscious soft berryness. Thoroughly sift the icing sugar into a bowl, spritz with a little lemon juice then with a fork crush in a couple of mulberries at a time. Go slowly, you don’t want this icing to be too runny. Leave the cupcakes to cool in the tin then top with generous teaspoonfuls of icing to about 4mm thick.