Today is known as “Lucia” in Sweden. I love Lucia and have done so ever since I found myself in this winter wonderland I now call home. The lighting of candles on this day symbolises, among other things, that light always conquers darkness… an important message to reinforce as the darkest day of the year fast approaches. I wont go into the history of the celebration here, but if you’re curious, check out this Wikipedia entry. I thought about baking traditional Swedish saffron buns in honour of my little boy joining his first nursery school Lucia procession (dressed as a gingerbread man). Yes, I thought about baking saffron buns… then decided that I couldn’t be bothered fussing with yeast and traditional recipes. So instead I decided to do something wild and crazy… and try baking saffron cupcakes combining inspiration from two very different cupcake recipes and some extra flavours (vanilla, orange and almond)! I sadly ended up missing the L’s Lucia concert (long story) and, after crying many tears over that, decided to push ahead with my kitchen experiments in order to boost my spirits and create something special for this special day on the Swedish calendar and also our family’s personal calendar (it is 10 years today that my now-husband asked me to be his girlfriend!). This is the festive and delicious result of what I consider to be my first truly original cupcake recipe… one that will no doubt be a family Lucia tradition from now on!
SAFFRON, ALMOND & VANILLA CUPCAKES
Makes: approx. 12 cupcakes
2.5 dl all-purpose flour
.6 dl almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1.75 dl caster sugar
.75 dl oil
2.25 dl milk
2 tsp vanilla
1/3 tsp ground saffron
A couple of drops of almond extract
- Preheat oven to 175 degrees C.
- In a large bowl, mix flour, almond meal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, saffron and salt.
- Whisk together oil, milk, egg, vanilla and almond extract.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until relatively smooth. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way. Bake for approx. 18-20 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.
As I made cupcakes and not saffron buns, frosting was called for (well, what’s a cupcake without a little something on top ?). Luckily I had recently made yummy vegan vanilla frosting during my blessingway cupcake baking frenzy, so I still had some ingredients on hand and was fairly comfortable with adapting the recipe. I thought about flavour combinations that would work well and, having never made orange buttercream, thought I’d give that a go. So glad I did! It’s delicious! The citrus tang marries well with the fragrant almond/saffron combination. The grated orange zest also compliments the saffron coloured cupcakes and mimics the appearance of saffron threads. A perfect match. And as saffron buns here often come sprinkled with something known as “pearl sugar”, I thought it fitting that each cupcake be adorned with a few pretty edible pearls.
VEGAN ORANGE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
Makes: enough frosting to generously cover a dozen cupcakes
120 g nonhydrogenated margarine
350g powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp grated orange zest
- Beat the shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients and beat for another few minutes until fluffy.
And there you have an original Miss Marzipan take on a Lucia-themed treat (that I am very proud of, I must say)! Glad Lucia mina vänner!