More gorgeous-looking cupcake books have passed across my editing workstation than you can shake a wooden spoon at, but I remain resolutely a fairy cake type of gal. I prefer their modest proportions and the chance to enjoy the sponge itself without the distraction of all that fussy frosting (not to mention the burden of wearing it afterwards). These are doubly purist in that they are made using a fatless sponge, though not exactly sinless as they do contain a fair amount of sugar. But they are mere morsels in all conscience.


Makes 12

handful or so of unsprayed scented rose petals – foraged ones from the wild are ideal (look for the big-hipped variety [pardon the expression] with large deep pink or white blooms, i.e. the naturalized Japanese Rose) – rinsed well, patted dry and left on kitchen paper to absorb any remaining moisture
60g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
50g self-raising flour, sifted twice
about 2 tbsp sifted icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/Gas 5. Line a 12-cup fairy cake (patty) tin (i.e. one with small, shallow cups) with small (fairy) paper cake cases. Drop one or two small rose petals into each case, then tear up the rest. Keep some for decoration, then whizz the others in a food processor with the caster sugar until fairly finely broken down. Transfer to a large bowl with the eggs and whisk with a hand electric whisk until pale and very thick, enough to leave the mark of the beaters. Fold in the flour with a large metal spoon.

Spoon the mixture evenly between the cases and bake for about 15 minutes or until springy to the touch. While you leave them to cool on a wire rack, whizz the reserved petals with the icing sugar in the processor. Sift the flavoured sugar over the cakes, then decorate with a few fudgy pieces of petal left in the sieve if you fancy.