Monday, April 30, 2007

Saffron Citrus Sweethearts

I don't usually frost my cakes. I can't picture myself snacking on a stick of butter nor spooning powder sugar into my mouth, so there's no reason why I suddenly eat it after some whipping action and an addition of essence. Rose's le pain d'epice is one of the types I much prefer. Each cupcake has 1/2 tablespoon of butter only and a chokeful of flavors from citrus and spices. Although quite a few ingredients were replaced, I still stick to her original proportion of wet and dry ingredients as this cake turns out sturdy (but moist!) enough to allow me doing some cut-outs without breaking it.

This recipe requires liquid bubbling hot before mixing in. It is not a new concept to me, I've done it a few times, one of the methods to soften the crumb. I don't know what the scientific explanation is behind, seems to me, the hot temperature is to (cook) break the gluten, the structure ideal for bread but not cake. Rose spooned jam into batter before bake (I've tried with a wonderful result). This time I added it after the cakes were done so that I could create the 'heart' ... you know I'm fussy. To compensate the lost moisturizer (jam), I had evaporate milk in batter.

Recipe: (yield 6 cupcakes)

*adapted the recipe of Le Pain D'pice from Rose at 64 sq ft kitchen *

*decoration's idea from Sale & Pepe maggio 2007*

  • 1 1/2 cups plain/all-purpose bleached flour
  • 1/2 cup evaporate milk
  • a small pinch of saffron threads
  • 3 1/2 Tbps sugar
  • 3 Tbps butter
  • 3 - 5 Tbps lemon marmalade
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • for decoration: berry preserve and powder sugar


  • Soak saffron in evaporate milk for 30 minutes, set aside. When you proceed the following, start to oven to 400F
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In a small pan/pot, melt butter over low heat, add sugar and saffron-milk mixture, bring to boil over low heat also. Once it boils immediately pour into the flour mixture, stir quickly to mix, but don't over-stir. Then fold in lemon marmalade. The batter is quite thick.
  • Spoon the mixture in paper cup, moist your fingers with a bit of water (so won't stick) to press the batter down. Bake for 12 minutes, tested with a toothpick if it comes out (almost) clean the cakes are done. Cool on rack. These cakes taste great on the next day, wrap and store in cool room temperature.
  • To decorate the cupcakes: use a very sharp serrated knife to slice the top off. For the dome, cut out a heart shape with a mini-cookie cutter. For the body of the cake, hollow the center a bit, fill in fruit preserve. Then put the dome back, sprinkle some powder sugar, fill its 'heart' with more preserve.



Anh said...

Gattina, these cupcakes look so cute! Like you, I prefer not to frost my cake. You remind me to start using some more jam in my fridge. :D

And the technique is new to me. I will try it in my next batch of cakes. Lately I indulge more in bread (you know!). :)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Gattina, these are perfectly lovely and the red heart is fabulous! Sweet enough to satisfy and stay healthy!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely gorgeous - I love the jam peeking through the heart! I like the new header as well :D

Callipygia said...

I too have never heard of this technique. I will have to get some saffron first. Beautiful hearts.

Mishmash ! said...

hope you have some left overs can fedex it to me ;)))) I liked that small heart on ur cup cake...and the coasters looks so pretty.....where did you get that from?....looks like its Valentine 's Day in April-May :)))

P.S Hey I liked your new header too....especially since you have that mango flower there :)

Unknown said...

Such gorgeous cupcakes :) You never fail to amaze us with all
your bakes and cooks!

Same here, I'm not a fan of thick and sweet frosting, allows me to indulge in the cake/cookie itself, instead od tasting all the numbing sweetness from the frosting.

Anonymous said...

Jelly filled hearts!! I am beside myself with glee looking at these pictures, I all but jumped in my seat and started clapping my hands, lol.

Ari (Baking and Books)

Anonymous said...

I love the jam & a little surprise waiting!

Gattina Cheung said...

Anh, you are sweeter than any chocolate or frosting, kekee.
About the hot liquid, may I suggest you doing it only when the recipe specifies? But one thing you can change freely in cake recipes... replace plain flour with cake flour.
To compare their "tenderness" in crumb...
one done by cake flour - like a soft-feathery foam
one done by hot liquid - bean bag

Tanna, agree with you, food is to nourish our body AND soul :D

Ellie, oh my darling!!! *hug*

Calli, not a bad technique if we had no cake flour on hand but "desperate" for something tender, the cake interior is softer but kind of crumble at the same time. I'd say, quite interesting if only use it once in a while... that may be a reason why it isn't too popular. Thanks for your sweet words!

Shn, I am a cheapo lah. everything from Dollar shop, yipppeeee! That coaster thing originally was a candle holder, I broke it *whooo-hoo* Well, so now I have 3 coasters, not a bad accident eh :D
and thanks for your compliement my friend!

Angie *high five* If we (I mean me only) have to get fat anyway, I rather fatten by good fruit (durian for you :D), chocolate and good bread, but not pure sugar lor. I was going to e-mail as you seemed MIA... but luckily JUST saw your creation... will run over there!

Ari, oh you are so sweet... and cute :) :) For the jelly heart, my preference is using fruit preserve/conserve, love to see that fruit chuncks! Actally I don't have any jelly at home.

Jaden, right, just like that! Thanks for your sweet words.

Lis said...

Awww how sweet are they? VERY SWEET!! hehe I have that same Italian lemon marmalade! I haven't opened mine yet - but ohhh how I can see how good it'd be with these lil cakes!

Beautiful.. you are my idol. =)

Hugs & smoochies!

FH said...

Beautiful! How creative to scoop a heart and fill up with red jam! Yummy.I don't like thick frosting either,I always scrape them off before eating!:)

Anonymous said...

These cupcakes capture my heart, Gattina - I just love how you've done the hearts with jam!

DEEPA said...

Excellent Pics ....Very very yummy and fabulous recipe ...thks for sharing

Bong Mom said...

I love the way you hav ethe heart shape on the cup cakes.

Anonymous said...

Great cupcakes and I am mad about Saffron...wounderful recipes...wish I could have a bite right now....thanks for sharing

Sher said...

Those are so adorable!! I have wanted to do something like this with some of my jam--but never thought to make cute little hearts. You are so clever! :):)

I've always wondered about the hot water too. Now I know!

Helene said...

I have been meaning ti get around her recipe and love your version just as much. Sometimes a little drizzle of lemon or some powdered sugar is better than frosting..unless it is cream cheese!
Lovely pics.

Peabody said...

How patient are you to cut out all those hearts! But what a great result.

Brilynn said...

You always inspire me to try new things, I love the name and the jam heart!

Anonymous said...

The cupcakes look delicious with those heart imprints...lovely

I made the fig mini baskets from your blog and they turned out really delicous


Katie said...

I love spice - and lemon. Most frostings, I agree, are overly sweet.
These are so cute!

Anonymous said...

sweetheart of these minicakes are sweet and perfect. Very interesting the mix between saffron and citrus

Amrita said...

Hi there Gattinamia! Hehe..

Im 16 and from Singapore. Also a fellow flogger.

I love your blog, and I was hoping that you would link me ...hehe

By the way, what camera do you use? Your pix r AWESOME.

Freya said...

Oh adorable! And it's not even Valentines Day - you shouldn't have!

Warda said...

WAOUUUUUUUU Yours just look GORGEOUS. I love the heart shape and the decoration with the berry preserve and the icing sugar. Just fantastic Gattina.I am flattered that my pain d'epice inspired you to come up with such an art of work.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Gattina, do you own a crystal ball or something?? I printed Rose's recipe a few days ago, I can't wait to try it!
We are in sync, aren't we? :)

I love the hearts you made out of jam, so adorable!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow! That is too too cute! I love to use jam in baking...and these little cakes sound so flavorful! :)

Gattina Cheung said...

Lis, when I just tasted that sicilian lemon marmalade with a spoon, it didn't seem to be that great as I expect. But it's ok in baked goods. But darling, thanks for your sweet words, you make my day :D

Asha, just that sugary taste in buttercream totally over-powering, even from a person with sweet tooth still can't tolerate. Thanks for your compliment my friend!

gilly, quick and easy isn't it =) Glad you like it xoxo

Deepa, you are welcome! :D

Sandeepa, seems to me, we can't go wrong with a heart shape :D

Dilip, oh yeah! You got to let me know whenever you make anything with saffron! I love to see!

Sher, that hot water thing is only my guessing. The result wasn't like 'wow'... but sometimes it is fun to try another method :D Too bad your cranberry conserve long gone, it is what I really want to fill in the cakes!

Helene, thanks! Oh lemon juice/syrup is another great idea, I will bear in mind :D

Peabody, don't worry, cookie cutter does the job, hehee.

Brilynn, thanks babe! I use fruit preserve as I don't like jam that much, you know, chunky, big!

Sushma, thanks for your sweet comment :) :) Glad you tried the basket and like it :D

Katie, as long as lemon or orange goes, I will go digging my spice rack :D

Francesa, grazie! I know the classic likes to add ginger/cinnamon/clove into citrus, since I want to make the cakes look very yellow, so thought of saffron :D

Amrita, thanks for dropping by! Sure, I've linked you up, just my sidebar not ready. You have a beautiful blog, will visit you again later :D

Freya, hehe... can't go wrong with this shape :D

Rose, thank YOU for this wonderful recipe! Really difficult to refrain from eating it right away, but it worths the waiting :D

Pat, we have eye for beauty =) =) Can't wait to see your version *kiss*

Joey, me too! Love fruit preserve or even dried fruit! But not very much fresh one though...

Anonymous said...

Mmmmm, those are a nice idea for a Mother's Day muffin basket...thanks Gattina, you're a well of inspiration, as usual.