Mulan-inspired cupcakes; black sesame cake, hidden lemon curd centre, and white tea infused frosting.
Okay, so I promised a recipe for the Mulan cupcakes from the other day; while I talked a lot about my decisions and the reasons for them in the that post, now you get the practical stuff. Although Sprinkle Bakes was my flavour inspiration, I knew that I could make a vegan version using black sesame paste, since it’s essentially the same as any other nut butter and nut butters are brilliantly versatile in egg-free baking. So - don’t go haring after that recipe to grind a more complicated black sesame paste, just use pure black tahini. You can see the type I used above: Carley’s raw organic.
For the cakes:
180ml (3/4c.) soy milk 2 tsp apple cider vinegar 80ml (1/3c.) black sesame tahini 80ml (1/3c.) vegetable oil 140g (2/3c.) caster sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract 150g (1 cup plus 2 Tbsp) plain flour 1 tsp baking powder ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) ¼ tsp salt
Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and line a cupcake tray with liners. Combine the soy milk and apple cider vinegar and just leave to sit for a little while - it’ll thicken up and go lumpy. Tadaa, you made vegan buttermilk!
In one bowl, mix the tahini, oil, sugar and vanilla, then slowly add the soy milk mixture. In a second bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt, then add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix in just until blended. At this point you’ll be like, “Wow! I made… grey… goo?? Um????” but trust me, you’re doing okay. Divide as equally as you can between 12 cupcake cases.
Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
For the lemon curd: I used this recipe. If you’re not vegan, you can use a store-bought version.
For the frosting:
150g (3/4c.) caster sugar
50g (1/3c.) plain flour
200ml (3/4c. + 2 Tbsp) soy milk
170g (3/4c.) coconut oil, very soft
6 white tea bags (more for a stronger flavour)
In a saucepan or in the microwave, heat the soy milk until scalding, then leave the tea bags to steep in it. I let them sit for about 15-20 minutes, but you can go a bit longer if you’d prefer. Strain the bags out as thoroughly as you can afterwards (I use chopsticks to squeeze out teabags! This is possibly a pro tip, or possibly an insight into my scummy habits) and top up the liquid level with more soy milk if necessary
In a saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together, then whisk in the milk. Over a medium heat, bring to the boil and allow to thicken - this will probably take 10-15 minutes, you don’t have to whisk constantly but just every few minutes. Pour into the bowl of an electric mixer (using the paddle attachment), and just beat the hell out of it til it cools down.
Re: your coconut oil! If it is even a little bit too hard, you will get little lumps that make your frosting incredibly hard to pipe. Ask me how I know. Second time around, I added it when it was almost completely melted and let it harden up as part of the frosting. Anyway, add the coconut oil and mix until fully incorporated - put it in the fridge for 10 minute intervals between beatings for the texture to stiffen up. Now you can add food colouring or a flavour extract if you prefer (I used a few drops of earl grey extract - enough to draw out the light floral flavour I’d already infused the milk with)
When cupcakes are fully cooled, cut a divot into the top of each cupcake and fill with lemon curd. Trim the cut-out cake pieces flat to make a “lid” and place on top of the filled divot.
Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes - this is a good video if you’re new to flower piping; the tutorial is for roses, but I used a smaller sized petal tip to create some sort of super ambiguous blossom. Uh, flowers are not my calling.