Rose and pashmak cupcakes, plus some soul-searching

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

So, I turned another year older recently. Shhh, a lady never reveals her age - let’s just say I’m on the exciting side of 30.

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.

The itch is still vaguely there, but for the moment, this is the least I can do. Will I change the way I view food and how I blog? Honest answer? Not really. But, I will be more mindful of using every single scrap of food – reusing bones for stock, saving peel for flavouring cakes, that sort of thing.

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.

2 eggs
160g yoghurt (I used Greek Yoghurt)
1 teaspoon rose water (not essence - use less if using essence)

166g sifted cake flour
35g almond meal
200g sugar
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).

To decorate:
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.


Ellie said...

Love pashmak! It adds a princessy feeling to any desserts. Happy birthday!!

shaz said...

Thanks Ellie!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Happy Birthday! :D They look gorgeous and almost like a pink feather boa on top of those cupcakes! Oz Harvest is a great charity indeed and good on you for giving them a shoutout :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Happy Birthday! Those cupcakes look so pretty! I love the cute decoration!



Hungry Dog said...

Shaz! Happy birthday!

Your cupcakes look fit for a closeup--really stunning. I have never heard of pashmak before. It looks magical!

shez said...

Happy birthday lovely! How gorgeous is the pink fluffy pashmak you've bought for yourself? (Answer: very.) I love using yoghurt in cakes for that moist and subtle tang. Great substitution idea :)

foodcreate said...

Happy Birthday ~ your cupcakes look so beautiful have a delicious day ~

Thank you for sharing your Recipe :)

Have a Great Day ~

shaz said...

Thank you for the wishes everyone!

Veggie Belly said...

what a fun cupcake idea! happy birthday!

Grace said...

happy anniversary of your exit from the womb, shaz! that's some groovy cupcake decor, and it says a lot about you as a person that you felt those itches to help others even on your special day. you're a good egg.

Y said...

Psst.. happy belated birthday! :)

Julia @Mélanger said...

Happy birthday. I love pashmak. So delicious. How long did these last? :)

shaz said...

Thank you Veggie Belly.

Aww, shucks thanks Grace, right back at you

Why, thank you Y.

Cheers Julia, they didn't last very long at all! One batch was devoured as dessert, and another batch at afternoon tea the next day. :)

pixen said...

OMG so lovely... am really hungry for couple of them right now :-D Thank you for sharing this recipe.