The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.
[Disney's Mulan, 1998]
I’ve been planning a line of elegant Disney Princess-inspired cupcakes for ages now, and it’s taken this long to make something I’m happy with. The black sesame and lemon combo is from Sprinkle Bakes, but I knew I would want it to be vegan; the tea-infused frosting took several attempts to get right (I tried infusing the butter in a basic buttercream, then a sub-par flour frosting with soya spread, then a fabulous flour frosting which involved coconut oil and brewing the tea in scalded soy milk). I’ve also made it with jasmine tea, but used white tea here.
The vegan lemon curd is from here, but I added extra lemon zest cause I generally like a sharp lemon flavour - in retrospect this was too sharp with the fairly delicate cake and frosting, and I’d tone it down in the future. The cake itself is a smoky, adult flavour that I really enjoyed, and the tahini here has the dual effect of both flavour and moisture, for a really nicely textured cake (still good on Day 3, by the way, which most vegan cakes would not be).
I put so much thought into the composition of this cake, oh my god, I wish someone would pay me money for this. I wanted Chinese flavours with the black sesame and white tea, and a brighter filling to show how Mulan’s true self is ‘concealed’ both at home and in the army. The flower piping is a callback to the metaphor of the flower in adversity, and Mulan’s conversation with her father about the blossom:
'My, what beautiful blossoms we have this year. But look, this one’s late. But I’ll bet that when it blooms, it will be the most beautiful of all.’