Sakura is the Japanese name for a cherry blossom. These gorgeous pastel pink flowers are so abundant in Japan in the springtime that there is a festival dedicated to their viewing – Hanami. It’s a beautiful time of year where there are many parties and picnics held under the cherry trees and people even queue to find the most picturesque spots! I get quite sentimental about hanami because it was around this time that my husband and I started going out (that means ‘dating’ for you US readers!). On the Great British Bake Off I used a layer of cherry jelly between the frosting and cake but it’s a nightmare to find in the UK so I have substituted with cherry jam and cordial. Plum, strawberry or raspberry would work just as well.
For the cupcakes
- 120g plain flour
- 140g caster sugar
- 40g soft unsalted butter
- 100ml whole milk
- 20ml Morello cherry cordial (try Waitrose)
- 1 egg
- Morello cherry jam
For the frosting and decoration
- 300g icing sugar
- 100g soft unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp full fat milk
- 1 tbsp Morello cherry cordial
- Pink food colouring
- 1 15g packet dark chocolate (80%+ cocoa solids)
- 12 fresh cherries
- A KitchenAid or electric mixer
- 12 hole muffin tray
- 12 pink or white cupcake cases
- A small piping bag with a thin (1 or 2mm) nozzle
To make them
- Preheat oven to 200C
- Layout a 12 hole muffin tray with the cupcake cases and put aside
- Whisk the milk, egg and cordial together and set aside.
- Put the flour, sugar and butter into the KitchenAid with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed til the mixture looks like small breadcrumbs.
- Slowly add the milk mixture until you have a smooth batter.
- Divide the mixture between cupcake cases (approximately 30-35g per case) and bake on middle shelf for 15-20 minutes or until just brown. A cocktail stick inserted should come out clean.
- Take them out of the oven and leave in the tray to cool then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
- Make the flower decorations by melting the chocolate over a pan of hot water or carefully in a microwave.
- Leave to cool til nearly room temperature and then pour into a small piping bag with a 2mm nozzle and pipe 12 flower shapes onto a piece of greaseproof paper. Put them in the fridge to set. If you don’t have a piping bag you could try using a medicine syringe or a food bag with one edge cut off.
- To make the frosting put the icing sugar and butter into the KitchenAid with a paddle attachment and blitz on very slow speed until in comes together. I usually cover the whole thing with a tea towel to prevent an icing sugar cloud.
- Add the milk and cordial and blitz at faster speed until light and fluffy.
- Stir in the pink food colouring to a pinkiness of your choice. Pastel is my liking :-)
- Once the cupcakes are fully cool, cut out a little well in the middle of each one large enough to fit about a teaspoon of the jam.
- Spoon the frosting on top and decorate with a polished cherry, a chocolate flower and if in season – a ‘Sakura’ .
You might also like my article on Hanami traditions at Great British Chefs Blog