Truth be told, I’m not that fussed about birthdays. We didn’t really do birthday parties once we were past the single digits. Instead, the whole family (including uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents) would simply descend upon a chosen restaurant and partake of the chaotic camaraderie only a family could enjoy.
This year however, an intimate home cooked dinner with four close friends was on the table. And I decided to treat myself by baking cupcakes. The idea for pashmak (Persian Candy Floss) decorated cupcakes had been on my mind for a while, and I figured – why not, I’ll spoil myself on a birthday.
However, as I lovingly arranged the tufts of rose scented pashmak over the tops of the cakes, I couldn’t help but feel my conscience itching away. So many blogposts were highlighting the problem of real hunger in the community. Over at Feeding Maybelle, there were posts about the eaton30 challenge created by Tami of Running with Tweezers. Suddenly, the already expensive pashmak seemed like an overblown indulgence. It’s ok, it’s my birthday I told my conscience. It still itched.
Allow me then, the added indulgence of using part of this post to help send some love (and maybe something more) over to OzHarvest. It’s a fantastic non-denominational charity that “rescues” fresh food from restaurants and other venues. The perfectly good food, otherwise destined for the bin, is sent to charities that support disadvantaged and at-risk communities in Sydney. Please do take the time to at least visit their website and find out a little bit more about their efforts.
I didn’t mean to put anyone in a down mood , but I did have to get that off my chest.
If you’ve stuck around this far, you deserve a cupcake ☺ - or at least a recipe for one.
Rosewater cupcakes decorated with pashmak
(adapted from the Golden Almond Cake in The Cake Bible)
Let me first say that I don’t usually muck around with any of the Cake Bible recipes because they are so fool-proof and I feel the need to “respect” the recipe. But I once substituted yoghurt instead of sour cream in this recipe and found the result so delicate and light, I now make it this way instead. The original recipe also calls for the addition of almond and vanilla extracts.
160g yoghurt (I used Greek Yoghurt)
1 teaspoon rose water (not essence - use less if using essence)
166g sifted cake flour
35g almond meal
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
170g butter –softened
1 teaspoon crumbled dried rose petals (optional)
Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Combine eggs, rosewater and ¼ of the yoghurt, beat gently until smooth.
Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Beat on low speed for about 30 seconds (I use hand beaters), to combine. Make a bit of a well in the flour and add in the butter and rest of the yoghurt. Beat slowly at first to incorporate the flour, then raise the speed to high (working on hand beater speed here) and beat for about a minute or so until creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the egg mixture in two batches, beating well after each addition.
Spoon into cupcake case and bake until golden (about 20 minutes or so, I forgot to time it. I usually go by smell anyway).
White chocolate cream (I just doubled the amount I made for the Pink Velvet Cake)
Some chopped pistachios (I used my leftover pistachio marzipan)
Dried rose petals
Spread some of the white chocolate cream on top of the cupcakes, sprinkle pistachio or chopped pistachio marzipan over the top. Just before serving,decorate with pashmak. Pashmak is very sensitive to moisture so do not put it on too early or it will dissolve into the icing.