Cucumber cupcakes with elderflower cream

24 Jul 2011

Cucumber cupcakes with elderflower cream

You may have noticed that at the bottom of this blog's homepage I've catalogued my recipes roughly by flavour or ingredient. Most categories now have a few entries;  those that don't surely will in the future. Except, perhaps, one.

Those of us who seek inspiration know that it generally comes from the most unexpected sources. Whether it's good inspiration, however, can be entirely arguable, especially in the case of these cupcakes. Cucumber cupcakes. With cucumber.

The "inspiration" was a cocktail recipe that combined gin, apple juice, elderflower liqueur and slices of cucumber - in other words, summer in a glass. Why not, I thought, take that fragrant, breezy combination and shove it in a hot oven? Afterall, how different can a cucumber-based cake be from a carrot cake, a courgette cake or other cakes based on watery, flavoursome vegetables?

So, using a reliable courgette cake recipe as my basis, cautiously halving its quantities in case of disaster, I set forth to make cucumber cupcakes. Whether the recipe worked or not is purely subjective - those who samples the results were pleasantly surprised. But I will say this: with baking, the cucumbery-ness becomes decidedly more pronounced, almost gherkin-like, and only works when offset with hefty amount of lime zest, apples and the fragrant elderflower cream. But, I would argue, it does work. So if you're feeling adventures - or of you've been robbed of your summer by the vengeful British weather gods - try it.

RECIPE:

Elderflower cream (you might have some left over, depending on how much you'll heap on your cakes):

Cucumber cupcakes (loosely based on Flora's Famous Courgette cake)

For the cupcakes: Line a 12 hole muffin pan with muffin liners. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Sift the flour, baking powder and baking suda together in a medium bowl. Beat the oil, eggs and sugar together, then lightly mix in the dry ingredients, finally stirring in the grated cucumbers, apples and lime zest. Fill the muffin holes about 2/3rds full and pop in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into each muffin comes out clean.

For the elderflower cream: place the egg whites and sugar in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water and whisk by hand until just luke warm. Remove and beat on high in a standing or handheld mixer until the mixture triples in volume. Begin adding butter, a few tablespoons at a time, beating until incorporated. Once all the butter is added in, continue beating until the cream reaches a mayonnaise-like consistency. Lightly beat in desired amount of liqueur or syrup. Leave to set in the fridge for a little while, then heap onto the finished upcakes and marvel at the oddly successful arrangement of flavours.