Vanilla and Rhubarb Cupcakes – a match made in heaven!

Sometimes life is very good to me, I wake up with a spring in my step (though that rarely happens as I’m not a morning person) and the day just goes well. Today was such a day. After a weekend spent in my kitchen trying Christmas pudding recipes and Seville marmalade, with varying degrees of success, I was back there this evening after a quick visit on my way home to my local Waitrose.

For want of a better word, I ‘stumbled’ across Vanessa Kimbell on Twitter last week, quite by chance. It turns out she’s writing a cookery book, to be released in June and wanted some help testing her recipes. I admire anyone following their dreams, especially when food is concerned, so I was only too pleased to offer my services in any way I could.

Therefore, I found myself back in my kitchen, baking. I love baking, which is a very good thing as I want to have my own bakery one day! Tonight though, I was baking someone else’s dreams. I was trying Vanessa’s ‘Vanilla and Rhubarb Cupcakes with Elderflower and Rose Buttercream’. Sadly I couldn’t track down fresh rhubarb, but Bonne Maman do a rather splendid rhubarb compote. It’s quite liquid, so on opening, I stuck some in a pan and heated it gently, so it would reduce a little. I let this cool down and got started with the serious business.

I don’t normally make 2 dozen cupcakes, unless I have an order, but I wanted to follow the recipe to the letter, therefore my work colleagues will be very happy tomorrow! It’s an incredibly easy recipe to follow and I feel I showed tremendous restraint by only trying one of these very tasty treats!

I had a chat with Vanessa earlier today and she explained the concept of the book to me. She is giving recipes in the book for one dish and then making a new one elsewhere, using the original dish. What a fantastic idea! Hand on heart, if the recipes in the book are anything like this, they will be a joy to make and this will be a cookery book which will become treasured and much used! I wish Vanessa much success and happiness in this venture and I feel proud to have played the teeniest-tiniest part in it.

If you want to follow Vanessa’s adventures further, then please check out this link:

and don’t forget to order your copy of her book!

Makes 24

250g caster sugar
250g  margarine or butter
250g  self raising flour
4 large eggs
2 tsps vanilla extract

250g butter
300g icing sugar
7 tablespoons  elderflower cordial
1 drop red food colouring.
Half a jar of Rhubarb Jam

Preheat  the oven to gas mark 4 / 350 F / 180 Celsius Cream together the butter and sugar.  Beat well until white and fluffy.  Add 3 / 4 tablespoons of flour and then add the eggs.  This prevents the mixture from curdling. Don’t worry if it does, just keep adding the flour a little at a time, beating the mixture to ensure it is evenly distributed.

Place a large dollop of the mixture filling 24 large cupcake papers 2/3 full. Leave room for the cakes to rise.  Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes until firm to the touch. Cool.

Place the icing sugar and butter in a large bowl. Beat this until it is light and fluffy adding in a tablespoon at a time of the elderflower syrup.

If the mixture is too warm to pipe then transfer to the fridge and leave until it has solidified enough. If for any reason the mix is too runny just keep beating adding a tablespoon at a time of icing sugar until you are happy with the result.

Scoop out a small walnut size piece from the centre of each cooled cupcake. Spoon a teaspoon of rhubarb jam in to the centre and replace the cut out piece. Pipe the butter icing over and decorate.

This recipe may change slightly in Vanessa’s book.

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