Beehive Honey Cupcakes

I do remember.

I recently read an article which said that kids don’t remember anything before seven years of age.It was surprising because I do remember at least a dozen incidents which happened before I turned six. And I also clearly remember that it was before six, because we shifted into a new house at that time and then soon my brother was born. Before that it was just dad, mom and me in a dainty one room and kitchen apartment with big windows and a lot of sunshine.

I clearly remember the layout of the house. The kitchen was huge and we had a double bed along one side of the dining area adjacent to the windows. The morning sun shone brilliantly on that side and several mornings I would be sitting in that window and eating breakfast. Apparently to maximise the absorption of vitamin D in my body. And mom would be tinkering around in the kitchen. Such peaceful mornings, I would stare into the distance and imagine vivid things. Mom was not working at that point of time, and I would have her wholly to myself.

Sometimes it feels strange that the most innocuous incidents get lodged in your memory. My best friend then was a girl who lived next door, she was a year older to me, and at that time seemed so much wiser. She knew a lot of things I didn’t. And while we were a strictly vegetarian family, they regularly cooked fish. I was amazed at the way her mom cleaned and cooked the fish. We would also play a little game where her father would be bitten by a snake and we were doctors, curing him. I am sure, we must have played so many more interesting and awesome games, but that little snake bite act is the only game I remember.

My dad was a cop, and he always worked in shifts. So while most dads were not available to pick up and drop off kids at school, my dad would be there. In fact, (now this I don’t remember, I have seen the photograph), my dad was the one to drop me off in school on the first day. I loved sitting on the scooter with him, hugging him tightly at the waist and looking at the world left behind. And yes, imagine that we were on a horse, racing with other horses, and of course always winning. Even later on, he would take me and my brother on hour long rides. The fresh air constantly brushing on my face left me refreshed and sleepy at the same time. Those really were simpler times. Way fewer resources and comforts, but that was more than required.

I also remember two-three accidents where I hurt my finger or my lip got a tear and needed a stitch. May be the visible trauma of that incident gave it more importance.

Now when we are on the verge of having kids, I always wonder what they will remember when they grow up. We obsess over creating warm and cherishable moments for them, think and plan exotic and fancy events, so that they would have a store of great experiences. But there is no guarantee what would get registered in their tiny little brains. Perhaps the most mundane of activities, like having dinner with parents and grandparents everyday would be a highlight or the few minutes in the morning spent snuggling up to dad before going to school. Or may be just the way a stream of light comes in through the window every evening creating a mosaic of colors on the floor.

We have no idea. But that doesn’t stop us from weaving plans of ‘we will do this and we will do that once the kids are born’. I already imagine myself singing my favourite songs to the baby, and dancing with him/ her to a particular chirpy song playing on the radio.

The kid may not remember it, but I will. For them and for myself.

*******       *******       *******

Last week, I stumbled upon Donna Hays‘ website. She is a veteran Australian baker and most of her recipes use salted butter, which is the one we get here in India. And what beautiful photos! Go visit her sit, you will love it.

I tried her Beehive Cupcakes and they were a hit. The honey in the cupcakes caramelises beautifully to give a soft crunch at the base and on the sides. I added a bit of orange oil to get a nice flavor and yes made the meringue frosting without the cream of tartar. And it whipped up beautifully.

beehive cupcakes

Donna Hay’s Beehive Honey Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

What you will need :

  • 125 gm softened butter
  • 165 gm caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract or orange oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 185 gm all purpose flour sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk

Meringue frosting

  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar with some yellow food color, for decoration

What to do : 

  1. Pre heat oven to 160C.
  2. Place the butter, sugar, vanilla and honey in big bowl beat until light and creamy.
  3. Gradually add the eggs and beat until well combined.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder and milk and fold until just combined.
  5. Spoon the mixture into paper lined muffin pans.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes in a preheated oven till a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  7. Cool it on a wire rack.
  8. For the meringue frosting, place sugar and water in a saucepan over high heat and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  9. Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat and continue to simmer for 3 minutes. meanwhile start beating the egg whites till it forms soft peaks.
  10. Then while constantly whisking, pour the sugar syrup over the egg whites in a slow stream, incorporating the syrup int he egg whites.
  11. The egg whites will become hot and continue whisking till it cools down and becomes thick and glossy.
  12. To assemble the cupcakes, cut a round from centre of each cupcake with a melon corer or a cookie cutter.
  13. Place the frosting in a piping bag with 1 cm plain nozzle and pipe it into the centre of each cupcake. Sprinkle with colored sugar for decoration.

Coring and frosting the cupcakes

Notes :

  • If you are using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt with the butter in step 2.
  • The original recipe called for cream of tartar, so if you wish you can add a pinch of while boiling sugar and water.
  • Egg whites get cooked at the stage when boiling sugar syrup is poured into the egg whites, so don’t worry.
  • The unfrosted cupcakes stay well in an airtight container for at least 5 days.

honey cupcakes

Dimpled Cinnamon Plum Cake

Like a lot of kids our age, me and my brother went to a day-care or a baby-sitter for most part of our childhood. But unlike some kids who easily adjust to the new surrounding, we almost hated all those places, and every few months later, my parents would be scourging for a new place.

When I look back at it now, I realise how traumatic it must have been for my mom and dad to leave us at some stranger’s house for the whole day, especially knowing that the kids are not loving it. Many of the other kids would be delighted to be at the day-care. But somehow, we never were.

It wasn’t that those aunties or those places were particularly bad, but it felt obscure to spend the whole day at someone else’s house. I would constantly wait for the clock to tick 7’O clock, when mom would come and pick us. My dad was working as a cop who would sometimes have night duty, and then he would come pick us up as soon as he came back every morning. So as compared to others, we spent significantly less time at the daycare, but I can still feel how those 5 hours seemed like eternity.

There were a couple of times when I had run away from the daycare to my grandparents house, which was about half a kilometre away. Everyone would be then looking for me and I would be relaxing and eating cookies at my granny’s house. Naturally, I would get a fair amount of scolding from my dad once discovered, but that was still better than being in those hole-shaped houses, with 10 other kids.

We had our share of oddities. The aunty at one day-care centre was obsessed with cleanliness, but hardly applied it to herself. She would be constantly scrubbing the chairs and sofas with an unreasonably dirty cloth. I wonder what she was trying to clean, the chair or the cloth, but she would constantly ask us to move while continuing her cleaning regimen. Her teeth were like chessboard with yellow highlights. And her thick eye glasses did not look like they had been cleaned in the last year. Ah, maybe that was the reason she felt everything was dirty. Her glasses were the ones that needed cleaning, oh but well never mind. Apart from that she was a warm lady and would gently coax us to complete our homework , while the television loudly blared in the background.

Once I remember, the lady at one centre was extremely religious and on certain days when she was fasting, she would get possessed by a deity / devi. She would go in a trance and make jerky movements and weird noises, her eyes would roll and arms would frantically flap, while doing a dance. I would always be shit scared. Even now, 20 years later, her image haunts me in my dreams.

But anyway, eventually we grew up and could manage it on our own at home. But what a ruckus we created by the time mom came back.

Now when I look at my friends and their kids, I feel relieved that the kids will stay with the grandparents, which is way better than any daycare centre. Thankfully, for us, my parents and in-laws are both willing and eager to manage our kids when me and my husband will be working.

Or my heart would be breaking, everyday, into a million little pieces.


Dimpled Plum Cinnamon Cake

This time I am sharing a recipe of a beautiful summer cake. The rich plum imparts a very earthy flavor to the cake. And what a lovely color of the plum juice, seeping into the cake.

A friend Manish from SaffronAmbrosia, brought this cake to my notice and I have been patiently waiting for plums to show up in the market. This cake is best made with fresh fruits, be it plums, or peaches or nectarines. It’s a fairly adaptive recipe and any type of compatible spices, zest and nuts can be added.

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

A slice of plum cake

What you will need :

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon corn flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar/ demerara sugar
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 8 plums, halved and pitted
  • 5-6 whole cherries

What to do :

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160C. Prepare an 8 inch round or square baking tray by lightly greasing the pan, then coating it with flour and then lining with a parchment paper. Alternately you can also use a springform pan.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, corn flour, baking powder and cinnamon and keep it aside.
  3. In another bowl, beat the eggs with an electric beater (or a whisk), till it is pale in color. Add the brown sugar and castor sugar and beat till it becomes creamy, for about 3-4 minutes. This method is called cremagé, and it greatly helps in making the cake fluffy.
  4. Then add the oil, lemon zest, vanilla extract, ginger and beat it till it all comes together.
  5. Now with a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients in the wet ingredients, and mix till no streaks of flour are seen.
  6. Pour this batter into the prepared pan and then arrange halved plums on top, cut side up. Gently press the plums into the batter. Press the cherries into the gaps.
  7. Bake the cake for 30-40 minutes, till a skewer inserted comes out clean. Mine got done in 30 minutes, so be watchful.
  8. Once baked, take the cake out and let it sit in the pan for 15 minutes while the plum juice seeps back into the cake.
  9. Gently take it out with the parchment paper and let it cool on a baking tray completely before cutting.
  10. Sprinkle the cake with some powdered sugar, if you wish.

Juicy plum cake

Notes:

  • The cake cannot be inverted and hence it is essential to use a parchment paper or simply use a springform pan.
  • You can replace the lemon zest with orange zest and cinnamon with cardamom, or as you like.

A platter of plum cake

Cheers!

Rutvika

P.S : This dimpled plum cake goes to the Kitchenaid India contest for the upcoming Bloggers meet. Stay tuned to check out other plum recipes.