Susan, her wife and baby daughter live in Glasgow and became Watercress Ambassadors to introduce more watercress into their diets. Not just to live healthily but to assist them in their passion for running, after all, Watercress is known to prevent DNA damage during exercise and to aid recovery afterwards.
It’s Week 5 and the watercress adventure has been going well, but Susan is ready for a change!
I have two words for this week. Watercress cupcakes. Now, before you recoil in horror, bear with me. My family reacted in exactly the same way - until they tried them.
I was searching online ‘how to use up the end of a bag of watercress’. I wasn’t in the mood for soup which is my usual go-to method for using up veg and I wondered if I could bake with it instead.
I’m already a big fan of savoury baking with watercress. Savoury scones and pancakes are my new favourite, sugar free treat.
But mouth-watering as these look, sometimes you’re just in the mood for creating something different. Could I come up with a sweet bake?
If, like me, you’ve been watching the Great British Bake Off, you’ll know it’s all about the flavour. So, when I looked at one website which described watercress as having a floral taste, the challenge was on! I reckoned sponge would be light enough to carry the delicate flavour. And when I thought about what would work well with it, I hit upon the idea of lemon. After all, lemon and poppy seed muffins work, so, could lemon and watercress?
Lemon & Watercress Cupcakes
I adapted a cupcake recipe to the ingredients I had in the cupboard.
175g caster sugar
225g self-raising four
zest of two lemons
100g cream cheese
dash of milk
2 handfuls of watercress
For the dry ingredients, I sieved the caster sugar, and self-raising flour, then grated in the zest of the two lemons. For the wet, I melted the butter and mixed it in with three beaten eggs and the juice of one of the lemons. The recipe called for 100g of yogurt, but I used cream cheese in its place, mixing it into a yogurt consistency by adding in a little milk. I then combined the wet and dry ingredients with an electric whisk.
Next, I took the 2 handfuls of watercress and in a tall jug blitzed it into a liquid using a hand blender. It was very, very green and I started to doubt myself. Erring on the side of caution I decided to split the mixture in two, keeping one as pure lemon batter. To the second, I added half of the liquidised watercress. I lined a muffin tin with cupcake liners and added a couple of spoonfuls of both types of batter to each. Then I baked them for 20 mins at 160 degrees and held my breath.
The result? 13 beautiful marble effect cupcakes. A proper baker’s dozen and not entirely out of place for Halloween.
Once they had cooled, I iced them. I went a little freestyle with the frosting; trying to be healthy I substituted cream cheese for some of the butter and added the other half of liquidised watercress. I whisked this with sieved icing sugar. Due to the amount of cream cheese I used, it stayed a little runny. It would need more work to get the consistency right, but it tasted delicious none the less.
I even made another batch the next day as feedback was so positive and I froze a few in re-sealable tubs. They defrost fine and stop you having to eat the whole batch in one go. I’ve never made a rainbow cake before, but I think this would be an excellent way to get the vivid green layer with a little more of the pureed watercress.
It was great to prove the doubters wrong with a delicious cupcake. But the wee one had to look on enviously as she’s still a bit young for cake so it’s back to savoury food next week. Although I did catch one of her great aunties trying to sneak her a crumb or two of cake!
If you’re interested in exploring other sweet treats featuring watercress, try these Watercress & Grapefruit Baked Doughnuts or this delicious Watercress Sorbet by Keri-Astill Frew.