Saffron is one of my favourite spices. I’m a huge fan of the delicate flavour of lemons and when used in a cake it gets all the more exciting. Lemons are a rare treat for me since we in India usually have access to the lime. I was totally elated when I chanced upon some gorgeous fresh lemons in the local farmers market.
Ever since I read about these cakes in Quick Vegetarian Dishes, I have been intrigued by the interesting combination of saffron, lemon and coconut. Although I didn’t stick to the original recipe and adapted it to suit my taste, I retained the key flavouring ingredients, saffron, lemon and coconut.
The cakes came out super soft, not dense like the usual cupcake textures. The frosting had the perfect citrusy tang. The heady dominating presence of the saffron with the mellow flavours of the lemon along with the subtle appearance of desiccated coconut makes this an unforgettable experience.
Growing up, I was an Enid Blyton addict like many others out there. Looking back I was always intrigued with the food that was written about. The adventures of all her characters always gave food and eating such an important role. The cakes, breads, scones and biscuits sounded so delicious and made me dream each and every time I picked up a new title. Enid Blyton made even simple and humble bread and butter sound so delicious!
When I read about High Tea treats at My Diverse Kitchen, where Aparna is guest hosting Meeta’s monthly mingle, I was immediately transported to the world of the characters of Enid Blyton, Jane Austen and Agatha Christie. Saffron, Lemon and Coconut Cupcakes would be something I would serve my special guests at teatime and I’m happy to send these cakes to this online tea party.
Saffron, Lemon and Coconut Cupcake Recipe
For the cake:
½ teaspoon saffron threads
200 gm (1 ½ cups) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda or soda bicarbonate
100 gm (½ cup butter)
150 gm (1 cup) caster sugar
1 tablespoon fine lemon zest
4 tablespoons thick yogurt
½ cup (125 ml) desiccated coconut
250 ml (1¼ cups) milk
For the Saffron and Lemon Butter cream frosting:
150 gm (1 ½ cups) icing sugar (use more if required)
100 gm (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon reserved saffron infusion
For the cake:
Line 12 cupcake molds with papers, or butter and flour them.
In a small, heavy bottomed skillet or frying pan toast the saffron threads for approximately a minute on a low flame or until they are just heated. Over heating can burn the delicate saffron threads. This will make it easier to grind the threads into a powder and also release the flavours. With a mortar and pestle grind the threads into a fine powder. Steep the saffron powder in 2 tsp milk. Reserve ½ teaspoon of the saffron infusion for the frosting.
Preheat the oven to 160° C / 325° F/ Gas Mark 3. Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda.
Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Mix in the lemon zest, yogurt and the saffron infusion, and beat until properly mixed, about 2 minutes.
Put in the coconut, half the milk and flour mixture. Beat until well mixed. Fold in the remaining flour and the milk and beat until you get a uniform mixture.
Divide the batter among cupcake molds.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool before frosting the cakes or else the frosting will melt over the cake.
For the frosting:
Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Mix in the butter, the reserved saffron infusion and beat until well blended. Stir in the lemon juice and beat again. Frost the cakes using a palette knife or icing mold.
Makes 12 big or 15 medium sized cupcakes
Recipe adapted from Quick Vegetarian Dishes