Vanilla Cupcakes with Lemon, Passion Fruit and Saffron Buttercream.

I hope you all had a fun Easter weekend. Mine has been one long eventful holiday. I have only been home to catch my beauty sleep and spent the rest of the time exploring a few gorgeous places around Sydney. Before I begin to tell you all about my adventures (in the next few posts), I wanted to give you a little peek into a some Easter baking I did for a friend. What better gift than something that you make at home! What better than a box of cupcakes with pretty pastel shades of frosting!

Sometimes the most unusual things inspire me to create my desserts. The other day I saw a little girl playing at the park wearing a pretty frock with frills and ruffles in shades of yellow. I exchanged a smile with her mother who caught me staring at the outfit. Little would she have imagined that pretty dresses could sometimes turn into a major baking inspiration.

I decided to play with white-yellow shades and almost instantly the buttercream flavours were there in my head. Lemon, Passion fruit and Saffron. And vanilla is always safe on the cupcake. When I think yellow I cannot help but think of Saffron. In India where I have grown up, saffron is a part of most desserts. It adds its special flavour, smell and colour to anything it is added to. It was however the first time I added it to buttercream.

 Luckily I had a tin of Passion fruit puree at home so that one was pretty easy too. Though I would prefer fresh fruits anytime over canned ones, my cupboards are well stocked with tins and cans for situations like this one when dessert ideas strike. And that is without a doubt…often!

For the lemon flavour I used an essence instead of zest to reduce work. Soon I was standing with 3 bowls of buttercream in front of me. I carefully added a few drops of yellow food colouring to two of the bowls depending on the desired shade. The food colouring was necessary though saffron and passion fruit had tinted the buttercream slightly.


I bought this flowery purple box to carry the cupcakes. And I thought they looked very pretty..don’t they?

So what is your food inspiration?

Vanilla Cupcakes with Lemon, Passion fruit and Saffron Buttercream
Yields 12

Vanilla Cupcakes
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
11/2 cups all purpose flour
11/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 177 degrees C and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
In the bowl of your electric mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk in three additions. scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 15-20 mins or just until set and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. (Do not over bake or the cupcakes will be dry). Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, frost with icing.

Lemon, Passion Fruit and Saffron Buttercream

2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp lemon essence
2 tsp passion fruit puree, strained
a pinch of saffron dissolved in 1 tsp warm milk

In an electric mixer or with a hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth and well blended. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Divide the frosting between 3 bowls. In the first one add the lemon essence and beat on high speed till frosting is light and fluffy. If it is too stiff, add a tsp of milk. Fill up a piping bag with the frosting and pipe swirls on 1/3 of the total number of cupcakes. Decorate with sprinkles.
In the second bowl, add the strained passion fruit puree and beat till light and fluffy. Add milk or sugar depending on the consistency of the frosting. Add a few drops of yellow food colouring to achieve the desired shade of yellow.(I wanted a light yellow shade and added about 4 drops of colour). Fill up a piping bag with the frosting and pipe swirls of Passion fruit frosting on 1/3 of the cupcakes. Decorate with sprinkles.
For the third bowl, strain the saffron milk into the frosting. While straining bruise the saffron with a small spoon so as to extract maximum colour and flavour. Beat the frosting on high speed till light and fluffy. Adjust food colour as desired. Fill up a piping bag with the saffron frosting and pipe swirls onto the remaining cupcakes. Decorate with sprinkles.



14 thoughts on “Vanilla Cupcakes with Lemon, Passion Fruit and Saffron Buttercream.

  1. The last time I had anything passion fruit, I was in Hawaii 11 years ago! This cafe had passion fruit butter for spreading on toast and by golly it's making my mouth water just thinking about it. Your cupcakes are gorgeous and I love how unique your frosting is! Saffron gives such a different flavor and I've always loved it in savory cooking so looks like it's time to try it in a sweet treat! Very clever idea!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s