May 1 is the celebration of Beltane – traditionally a fire festival marking the halfway point between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. It is a moment to pause, look forward to the coming months of growth, light, and warmth, but also to reflect on the cold days. The earth is waking up.
I was travelling on Wednesday (Beltane) so I didn’t have the opportunity to mark the day. Instead I waited for this weekend, a long one delightfully, to celebrate. The allotment has suddenly burst into life. The rain of recent weeks has been much appreciated and everything has shot up. The strawberries are making sparkling white flowers. The lovage has regrown. There is an enthusiastic mint taking over a bed – quite where it has come from I do not know! The lavender has expanded with new green leaves, disguising the silver-grey ones. Buds are appearing on the black currants and raspberries.
Bees are back. So are the mosquitos. Swallows should start to arrive now and the hedgerows are busy with chirrupy feathered bodies singing their own songs. My rosemary is covered in gorgeous purple flowers.
What better way to celebrate this joyous time than with a cake that uses those purple blooms? And celebrates the return of the bees? Instagram directed me first to Tessa Kiros’s recipe for honey cake with rosemary, from Apples for Jam. And then I remembered that Kate Young had a recipe inspired by Winnie the Pooh, and his obsession with honey. Her recipe is based on Tessa’s one. This recipe is a mashup of those.
I found dark Spanish honey in my favourite food shop (Pak Foods in Sneinton) and used my own rosemary flowers. I’ve also made this gluten-free so I can share it. The cakes taste very much of the honey that you use so choose carefully.
Once baked and iced, I packed the cakes into a tin and headed to spend time on the allotment. I let myself lie on the grass in the sunshine for a moment, listening to the sounds around me. Perhaps this is the way to a new definition of success in my life? Paying attention and marking the seasons. Allowing things to develop? Taking time to pause, look around, and celebrate the small changes.
Honey and Rosemary Cupcakes
160g unsalted butter, at room temperature
35g dark brown sugar
80g golden caster sugar
175g runny honey
150g buckwheat flour
50g ground almonds
1.5tsp baking powder
0.5tsp ground ginger
1tbsp finely chopped rosemary
1/2 cup crystallised ginger, roughly chopped
100g cream cheese
350g icing sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
Rosemary flowers to decorate
Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a 12- hole muffin tray with cupcake holders.
Melt the butter with the sugars, honey and 1tbsp water. Heat just enough to melt the butter and dissolve the sugars. Set aside to cool.
Mix the flours, baking powder, ground ginger and rosemary.
Once the butter mixture has cooled, whisk in the eggs. Then fold in the flour in two parts. Lastly add in the chopped ginger. Divide the mixture between the cupcake cups, filling them to 2/3 and bake for 20-25 minutes until the cupcakes are risen and cooked through. These rise only slightly so don’t expect a domed cupcake.
Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack.
For the icing, whisk the cream cheese until smooth. Add in the icing sugar and then the lemon juice. Beat until soft peak. Ice the cupcakes and use the rosemary flowers for decoration.