I know what you are thinking. The words “raisin” and “cupcake” do not belong together. But trust me, the moment you pull these out of the oven and your kitchen fills with the smell of hot, buttery nutmeg, you will thank me for introducing you to this kitschy little cake. Plus, from start to finish these take less than an hour to make, so you can spend your Saturday afternoon curled up with a cup of tea and a cupcake rather than doing dishes.
This recipe is my grandmother’s, and has been a family tradition since my dad was a little kid. He has the original recipe written out by my grandmother, her careful handwriting spattered with vanilla and dried icing from years of baking.
These cupcakes are different from the modern rendition of the dessert. There is relatively little sugar in these (less than one cup in the batter), and you will not find them with an inch of overly sweet icing masking the flavour of the cake. If you are like me and hate that inch of icing, take comfort in the fact that we are not alone (warning: hilariously expletive language).
Instead of that dreaded inch of sugary icing, these are merely swiped with the faintest skiff of butter icing, just enough to take them to the next level. But the best part is not the icing or the butter; it’s the raisins. I know that raisins are one of the most hated dried fruits (except for maybe the terribly misunderstood prune). But here, the raisins are made soft and plump from a quick soak in boiling water, which is then added to the batter to give it a syrupy, caramel flavour. If that doesn’t make you run for your muffin tin and spatula, I don’t know what will.
Makes 12 cupcakes
1 1/4 cups raisins
2 c. water
1/2 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 375º F. Butter a standard muffin tin.
Boil raisins in 2 cups of water for five minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of raisin water. Cream together butter and sugar until well combined. Add egg and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add raisin water (best if it has slightly cooled) and mix. Add flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt and mix until dry ingredients have just combined. Fold in drained raisins.
Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full. Bake at 375º for 18 minutes, or until tops are springy and edges are beginning to brown. Run a butter knife around the edges of each cupcake, then let them cool in the tin for five minutes before removing. Remove from tin and let them cool completely. Lightly ice with butter icing (recipe follows).
Makes enough for 12 lightly iced cupcakes
4 tbsp. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. icing sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 -2 tbsp light cream or milk
Cream together butter and icing sugar with a wooden spoon. Stir in vanilla and enough cream to make it soft and spreadable, but not runny. Ice cupcakes with approximately one tablespoon of icing each. Try not to cry when taking first bite.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I do, and that soon enough your own page will be spattered and wrinkled from repeated use.
What is your favourite type of cupcake?