Recipe: Jasmine and Orange Blossom Cupcakes for Sensitive Souls

Another day, another fundraiser at work (and another cupcake recipe on this blog), and since I am now officially She Who Bakes Allergy-Friendly Foods, I had to come up with something gluten-free and vegan that my friends could eat…

The fun part about this recipe is that I actually don’t like these cakes much at all.  But everyone else did, so I have concluded that perhaps I just don’t like jasmine tea very much. You might think I would have checked this before going off and inventing a recipe based on it, but no.  You see, I’ve never drunk jasmine tea – I don’t actually like tea, though I have tried very hard to do so – but I love the smell of jasmine tea.  Love it. 

I’m always buying Andrew jasmine tea so that he can drink it, because Andrew can generally be relied upon to steep his tea for ages, and then forget about it and leave it around the house somewhere, and then reheat it, and then decide it’s too hot, and leave it to cool, and then forget about it… which may sound like a terrible thing to do to tea – I don’t know, I don’t drink tea – but it does mean that the whole house winds up smelling of jasmine for hours. Which is a win for me.  I’m not sure about whether it’s a win for Andrew, too.

(Andrew says I’m exaggerating about his tea-drinking habits, but that’s what it looks like from the outside.  And until he gets a blog of his own, he’s just going to have to live with my version of the story, ha ha!)

Anyway, all of this prompted me to look at the matcha tea cupcakes in my Vegan cupcake book and decide that they would be *even better* if I totally changed the technique and made them gluten free and, oh yes, used jasmine tea instead of matcha tea.  People who like tea tell me that they are indeed even better.

But sadly, I have once again failed to like tea.  Even jasmine tea.  Even in a cupcake.  But if you do happen to like jasmine tea, then these cupcakes are probably for you.

(I may not like eating them, but I do like the way they smell…)

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2 tsp jasmine tea (loose leaf), + 1 tsp for the icing
2 cups almond milk (rice milk is fine if you can’t eat nuts)
2 tsp raspberry vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup margarine
1 3/4 cups rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup cornflour (the squeaky kind)
1/4 cup tapioca starch
2 tsp guar gum or xanthum gum
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb of soda
a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp orange flower water
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
40 ml boiling water
2 tsp butter
24 raspberries, or marzipan flowers if that floats your boat

Now what will you do with it?

Put the almond milk and two teaspoons of jasmine tea in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.  Take off the heat and leave to steep until the almond milk is cool.  Strain the milk into a bowl, pressing hard on the jasmine tea, to make sure as much flavour goes into the milk as possible.

Almond milk and jasmine tea

Add the raspberry vinegar to the milk, and leave to curdle for a few minutes.  Now would be a good time to pre-heat your oven to 180°C and line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper cases.  You could also combine all your flours in a bowl with the salt and bicarb and baking powder and mix them together.  You could even sift them!  But that would make you much less lazy than me.

Stir the oil and half the sugar into the jasmine-infused milk, along with the orange flower water.

Cream the margarine with the rest of the sugar, and then mix in the flour in about three batches, alternating with the milk mixture.  You should get quite a nice smooth batter by the end of it, somewhat thicker than crêpe batter, but of the same nature.

Spoon the batter into your prepared cases and bake for about 20 minutes or until the cakes are risen, golden and a bit springy.

Pretty risen cakes!

Let cool while you make the icing.

Put the rest of the jasmine tea into a small bowl, and pour the boiling water over it.  Leave to infuse for twenty minutes or so while you race into the study to type up your recipe before you forget what you put into it… oh, wait, you don’t have to do that.  Well, I suppose you could always wash up.  Or listen to some fun YouTube clips.

Strain the tea into a large bowl, and beat in the margarine. Sift in the icing sugar into a bowl – incidentally, low-GI or golden icing sugar is awesome here, and adds to the tan tea-colour of the cakes, and mix until you have a nice glacé icing consistency – this is the kind of icing that you dollop onto the cake and watch it spread out into a smooth circle.  You may need more hot water – if so, pour it through the tea leaves in the sieve.  The cupcakes themselves are fairly subtle, so you want to get a good, strong jasmine flavour here.

Spoon the icing over the cakes – you should end up with a heaped teaspoon or so per cake for almost complete coverage – and top with a fresh raspberry.  Feed to someone who likes tea.  But not, alas, to me…


You can use plain wheat flour, or any other gluten-free flour combination to replace the set of ingredients that starts with rice flour and ends with guar gum.  You possibly should do this if you aren’t actively catering for the gluten-free; because this cake tastes fairly plain, the texture is more noticeable than usual, and while this gluten-free mix is a pretty good imitation of plain flour, I found that I could tell the difference this time. (Again, though, I fed these cakes to lots of people at work and I was the only one complaining.  To them, in some cases.  They just looked at me oddly, which is nothing new, I might add…)

If you are avoiding nuts, rice milk or dairy milk could replace the almond milk.  I would avoid soy, on the grounds that the flavour is a bit too forward for this recipe.

I’m afraid I can’t comment on other flavour variations because this recipe really did not work for me, and it’s hard to know what will work with a flavour you don’t actually like.  Though rosewater instead of orange-flower water might be a nice touch.


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9 comments for “Recipe: Jasmine and Orange Blossom Cupcakes for Sensitive Souls

  1. October 2, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    Your cornflour, is that “cornstarch”?

    … and as for the tea, reheating is HORRID. Well, not horrid, but abuse. The heating and reheating busts those cell walls in the jasmine flowers and tea leaves to little bitty bits and makes for a more bitter cuppa. Jasmine is a delicate tea to brew. For most people who just wait to the kettle to boil and then pour that over their tea, that’s often a bit too scalding for jasmine and will make the tea more bitter than it ought to be. Unless, of course, your jasmine is black tea with jasmine flowers in it and not green or white. Teavana has a great chart for tea temperatures

    Then again, knowing all this I STILL reheat coffee … which is nearly as shameful.

    • October 2, 2012 at 11:23 pm

      Yes, I’m fairly sure cornflour is cornstarch. One day, I really will have to do an Australian-USA dictionary!

      Apparently, Andrew does not re-heat jasmine tea. He says. Other teas, however, I have *seen* in the microwave multiple times.

      He is now standing here attempting to dictate this reply, so I will let him reply all on his own using his very own fingers and keyboard.



  2. Andrew
    October 2, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    Hmm, I never realised that “sitting nearby, doing something else while making random comments as they pop into my head in response to something Catherine just read me” was the same as standing over Catherine and making her write what I’m saying…

    But on this whole tea-reheating business — yes, my caffeinated beverages sometimes undergo that treatment. Jasmine tea? Almost never (and then only one rare occasions with tea brewed from a teabag). I also take care to let the boiling water cool for about a minute before pouring it over jasmine tea. I know that making one cup of jasmine tea can result in Catherine still smelling it hours later, which might be why she assumes I’ve been reheating it. (There’s also “forgetting the oil burner is still going” to explain other instances of overwhelming jasmine scents…)

    Looking at the tea chart, though, I see that I am still committing great crimes against black tea — I like my black tea strongly flavoured and tend to leave the tea leaves in place until I’ve finished the cup. I’m not completely convinced by the suggestion to “add more tea, not more time” — I find that the tea keeps getting darker the longer I brew it, regardless of the recommended brewing time.

    • October 3, 2012 at 11:25 pm

      ‘Dictate’ in the sense of taking dictation, not in the sense of a dictatorship. Though I admit the two can feel quite similar from the secretarial side of the equation…

  3. Iestyn
    October 3, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Andrew, as you leave it you tend to get more tannin and less extra volatile oils (the less bitter flavour). If you want more flavour without the bitter, try using a smokey dark like Russian Caravan, or a Vintage like vintage Darjeeling: the extra fermentation adds low notes. If you are happy with your tea, do it how it pleases you!

  4. Andrew
    October 4, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Alas, I find it difficult to stomach Russian Caravan. Darjeeling I like, but the only type to which I’ve had access for a while is the Twinings, which seems to be missing something – I’ll keep an eye out for other varieties.

    • Iestyn
      October 4, 2012 at 11:28 pm

      Sound like an excuse for a trip to Sassafras: last time I looked the Tea shop had Vintage.

  5. October 5, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Maybe you should try rosehip tea? It would make a lovely flavour & pink colour!

    • October 5, 2012 at 11:41 pm

      Oh, what a lovely idea! I certainly shall.

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