My entire life, I’ve dreamed of the day I would move away from Maine, preferably to a city. I don’t like being relatively isolated, having to drive significant distances to get to anything interesting or unusual, and being years behind trends in food and fashion. Luckily within a few months I’ll be in The Very Big City Itself and will be able to wander out for obscure ingredients on a whim, but for now I’m somewhat limited in what I can get without ordering from halfway around the world.
After my first entry in this month’s Iron Cupcake challenge, I wanted to do some actual cakes. I had what I thought was a really brilliant idea for sushi-inspired fatt koh (steamed Asian rice cupcakes) with candied carrots and blobs of spicy ginger frosting. I was even going to rig up a steamer with a colander and a giant soup pot. But unfortunately you need something called Eno Fruit Salt to make fatt koh (it’s a flavored leavening/antacid) – allegedly they turn out brownish and ugly if you use baking soda.
However, after a loooong trip to the closest Asian market (in Portland – an hour away from where I live now) left me fruit-salt-less, I had to come up with a backup plan. Well, I didn’t really, since I already have an entry in, and participation isn’t mandatory, but that’s just me.
While driving from the Old Port to Whole Foods (only after buying a bunch of things I can use but definitely don’t need at the Asian market), I came up with a classic smartass Anna idea – why not just use the herb savory in my cupcakes?
There aren’t a lot of cakey things that go well with savory (it’s called savory for a reason, I think), but I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to pair it with lavender, and a little lemon, and heck, how about some honey?
I ended up using my trusty standard cupcake recipe, with the addition of steeping lavender in the milk and adding some finely chopped fresh savory to the batter. I made the cupcakes tiny because they’re easier to share with more people that way, even with halving the recipe. Plus it’s terrifying to use an entire one pound package of butter in one frosting.
The frosting, by the way, is DIVINE. Whenever I opened the cupcake carrier I’d get hit in the face with an awesome blast of lemon, and the honey ties everything together very well. I really love honey.
Savory Cupcakes (with Lavender and a Honey-Lemon Buttercream)
First, Make the Cakes:
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1-2 Tbsp dried lavender (depending on how much you like lavender)
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp fine salt
- 1 Tbsp fresh savory, finely chopped
- 2 egg whites
Pour the milk into a small saucepan and sprinkle in the lavender. Bring almost to a boil, then remove from heat and set aside to steep and cool to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350. In a stand mixer or with a handheld electric mixer, cream the butter, then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Strain the lavender out of the milk and alternately beat the milk and flour mixture into the creamed mixture by thirds. Once everything is fully incorporated, briefly beat in the savory, then add the egg whites and beat on medium-high until the batter is light and fluffy. Pour into lined mini muffin tins and bake 10-13 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Allow to cool fully before frosting. Makes 24 mini cupcakes.
Then, Make the Frosting:
- 3 egg yolks, room temperature
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 cup (1/2 lb., 2 sticks) unsalted butter, soft and in Tbsp
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Yellow food coloring (optional)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachments, beat the yolks on high until light in color and foamy. Meanwhile, heat the honey in a small saucepan to 248 degrees. Intermittently drizzle the honey in by fourths into the yolks, whipping between additions. Continue to whip until the mixture cools to about room temperature, then switch to the paddle attachment and beat in the butter one Tbsp at a time, waiting for each piece to be fully incorporated before adding the next one. If at any point the frosting appears to curdle, let the mixer run undisturbed and don’t add any more butter until the frosting fixes itself (it will, trust me). Once the butter is all incorporated, beat in the lemon zest and the food coloring. Pipe onto the cupcakes with a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and decorate with sprinkles.
For a last minute, sort of jokey submission these cupcakes sure are awesome. The frosting is really great and would also go great on a chamomile cupcake. Mmm, chamomile cupcake.
Obligatory Iron Cupcake Earth Official Information:
Our May ETSY PRIZE-PACK is from artists:
- A sweet cupcake ID bracelet by INSANEJELLYFISH, http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5021935
- something sweet and dangly from CHERRYCREEKCHARMS at http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=6686445.
- a sweet surprise from Sweet Cuppin’ Cakes Cupcakery, http://www.acupcakery.com/
- PLUS, IronCupcake:Earth can not forget our good friend, CAKESPY, http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5243382, who is now going to be doing a piece for our winner each month until further notice – sweet!
Last and certainly not least, don’t forget our corporate prize providers: HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS, http://www.fiestaproducts.com, HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, http://blog.hellocupcakebook.com, JESSIE STEELE APRONS http://www.jessiesteele.com; TASTE OF HOME books, http://www.tasteofhome.com; a t-shirt from UPWITHCUPCAKES.COM http://www.upwithcupcakes.com/. Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers, http://www.1800flowers.com