Scented Rose Cupcakes

Rose Scented Cupcakes | Vagabond Baking

These delightful cupcakes were completely inspired by my travels through the middle east a couple of years ago. Eating turkish delight in Istanbul while musing over the domes and minarets, glinting in the late winter sun it a delicious memory. It is one incredible city and we both fell under its spell. I used the wonderful scent of rose for these pretty cakes, a Turkish Delight flavour that will conjure the east.

The vanilla sponges are drizzled with rose and orange syrup which soaks into the cake and forms a sweet crystalized coating. A generous swirl of rose scented cream cheese frosting tops them and they are finished with a scattering of crushed pistachios.

There is a famous ice cream parlour in the magnificent Souq al-Hamiddiyyah, Damascus called Bakdash where you can buy a special Syrian ice cream that is served crusted with pistachios. It is easy to find as it is always surrounded by people, the ice cream has an interesting elastic texture and the pistachios look like green jewels on the milky cream. We often wandered through the souk from our hotel to the old city, it is the perfect transition from the new parts of Damascus to the ancient walled city. I could have wandered those ancient streets for days, soaking in the history.

There was only one way to finish these cakes, and the pistachios add a lovely crunch.

Rose Scented Cupcakes | Vagabond Baking

Scented Rose Cupcakes

oven 180 C / gas 4 / 350 F

12 hole muffin pan lined with paper cases {makes 10 to 12 depending on the size of your paper cases}

For the sponge

  • 115 g {1 stick} soft unsalted butter
  • 115 g {1/2 cup} golden caster sugar
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125 g {1 cup} self-raising flour
  • 3 tbsp ground almonds
  • finely grated zest of one orange

Beat the sugar and butter together with either a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time along with a tablespoon of the flour, then add the vanilla. Sift the flour in and fold into the batter along with the ground almonds and the orange zest.

Fill the paper cases 3/4 full, I had large cases and this recipe made 10 cakes, I’m sure you could get 12 out of it if you used the shallower cases. Bake for 25 minutes or so until risen, golden and a tester comes out clean.

Rose Scented Cupcakes | Vagabond Baking

Meanwhile, make the rose and orange syrup

  • 110 g {1/2 cup} sugar
  • 45 ml {1/2 cup} water
  • 1/2 tsp rose water
  • 1/2 tbsp orange juice

Place the sugar and the water in a small pan, swirl it to mix then put over a medium heat to bring to the boil. Do not stir it. Once it starts to boil, turn the heat right down and simmer very gently for just over 10 minutes, without stirring. The syrup will have reduced and thickened slightly but still clear. Watch it like a hawk as the syrup can quickly go from clear to golden then burnt in seconds.

Take off the heat and quickly stir in the rose water and orange juice. Pour into a clean jar or jug and allow to cool a little.

To clean your pan simply fill it with very hot water and leave it to soak for a short while.

Once the cakes come out of the oven, transfer them to a cooling rack and poke the surfaces all over with a skewer, cocktail stick or even a fork. Drizzle the warm syrup over the cakes so that it sinks into the holes.

Rose Scented Cupcakes | Vagabond Baking

Allow to cool completely.

Scented rose cream cheese frosting

  • 150 g {5 + 1/4 ounces} full fat cream cheese, Philly, at room temperature
  • 100 g {1 stick} soft unsalted butter
  • 400 g {3 + 1/4 cups} icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp rose water
  • red or pink food colouring gel or paste
  • a handful of pistachios

Use an electric mixer to beat the butter for a couple of minutes, once it looks pale then add the cream cheese and beat it together on a high-speed for a minute or so.

Sift in a third of the icing sugar, beat it on a low-speed to start then up the power once the icing sugar has been combined. Repeat until you have added most of the icing sugar, add a bit more it you feel it needs thickening.

Beat in the vanilla and the rose water then add a couple of drops of the food colouring to get a pretty, pale pink shade. Fill a piping bag filled with a wide plain nozzle then pop in the fridge for 10 minutes to cool down.

Rose Scented Cupcakes | Vagabond Baking

Pipe over your cakes.

Crush a hand full of shelled pistachios, ideally in a pestle and mortar, into chunky pieces. Sprinkle over the frosted cakes.

If you like you can dust the frosting lightly with edible gold lustre powder once it has set firm for a truly exotic look.

Rose Scented Cupcakes | Vagabond Baking

Rose Scented Cupcakes | Vagabond Baking

No Responses

  1. Such a lovely creation! Rose water and pistachios… All the lovely middle eastern Flavours. I do hope to travel to the Middle East some time. In the meantime, I’ll probably bake up some of these.

  2. Jorie says:

    These look dreamy, soft, light, and pretty too!

  3. gorgeous! and they sound delicious 🙂

  4. bakearama says:

    Love the pink and green together, they look and sound amazing!

  5. Absolutely gorgeous!

  6. Lovely, definitely would also like to travel to the Middle East one day.

  7. sweetcraving says:

    Wow I’m so jealous of both your travels and your cupcakes! I can’t wait to go travelling, saving up at the moment. Have any locations you would really recommend?

  8. There you are…figured you must be out wandering! Hope all is well. Can you suggest a natural food color for red? We have a red dye allergy here and I’ve yet to find anything other than fruit juices, and they add flavor.

  9. Dave says:

    Wow, this post makes me want to go to the Middle East! Some day. And I hope that some day we will be able to travel to Syria – I guess it must be sad for you to hear what’s happening there now. Hope they will be serving ice cream again at that Souq in Damascus…

    • I’m gutted about what’s happening there, feel so sad for the lovely people we met. That souk was amazing, I hate to think of it war torn. I wish I could return. It’s a route we could hopefully do in years to come.