The number of variations of a recipe can judge its popularity. Lemon cake recipes are a good example here. They are moderately sweet, with a lovely tart citrus sourness and you just want to stop for a tea break more often than usual and indulge into this little yellow sunshines. These cakes that we are making today, are a bit fancier than normal ones, but taking them to this level up won’t take you much effort. A bright lemon here goes really well with saffron and honey; cinnamon, vanilla and cloves in the syrup give it that gentle cozy note.
Try these bright both on the inside and outside mini cakes, I’m sure you’ll be pleased! Citrus flavoured cakes are especially good during gloomy autumn days. Saffron works well here as a catalyst; just one glimpse at these cakes and you know they are definitely lemon flavoured. The cakes are pretty dense but at the same time they are very soft and moist. They are good just on their own but I encourage you to try them with this spicy syrup, crunchy almonds and light and creamy sour cream and honey topping that will take the cakes to a whole new level.
Saffron and lemon mini cakes
The recipe makes 10 mini cakes
For the mini cakes:
- ¼ t saffron threads
- 2 t lemon juice
- 1 stick + 1 T/ 4.76 oz/ 135 g unsalted butter, softened
- ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped, bean reserved
- zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
- ½ c/ 3.5 oz/ 100 g white sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 c + 2 T/ 5.64 oz/ 160 g all-purpose flour
- 1 t/ 7 g baking powder
- pinch of salt
- ¾ c/ 6.35 oz/ 180 g natural yogurt
- 1 oz/ 30 g almond kernels, roughly chopped
- Preheat the oven to 355ºF/ 180ºC classic or 320ºF/ 160ºC fan forced.
- In a small bowl, mix the saffron and lemon juice, set aside while you make the batter.
- In a big bowl, beat the butter with vanilla seeds and lemon zest until combined. Add the sugar and beat again on medium speed until light and creamy. Add in the eggs and beat again until thick.
- In a separate bowl, mix the flour with baking powder and salt. Stir in ⅓ of the flour mixture into the butter mixture until combined. Add in half the yogurt and stir again. Repeat alternatively adding the flour mix and yogurt, stirring the batter until just combined after each addition. Stir in the lemon and saffron that you’ve mixed in the beginning.
- Fill muffin cups almost to tops with the batter. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and done (a wooden skewer inserted in the centre of a cake should come out clean).
- Meanwhile make the sour cream and honey topping.
For sour cream and honey topping:
- ½ c + 2 T/ 5 oz/ 150 g sour cream (at least 25% fat content)
- 1 oz/ 30 g honey
- ¼ t vanilla bean paste
- Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl until combined, set aside.
For spiced syrup:
- ⅓ c/ 3 oz/ 90 ml water
- 3 T/ 1.6 oz/ 40 ml lemon juice
- 1 small lemon rind
- ⅛ t saffron threads
- 3 cloves
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- ⅓ c + 1 T/ 80 g white sugar
- 2 T/ 1.6 oz/ 45 g honey
- Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan, add the leftover empty vanilla bean, set the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes, then take it off heat. Remove whole spices before using.
- Remove the mini cakes from the oven, leave for 5-7 minutes then remove from the pan and transfer to a rack set over a tray or a big pan. Brush the hot cakes generously with hot syrup.
- Serve warm or cold, topped with sour cream and honey topping and chopped almonds.