Cupcakes with crystallized flowers

Crystallized flowers are available from shops that sell cake-decorating supplies. Alternatively, it's easy to make your own.

1/2 lb. (225 g) butter, softened 1 cup (230 g) sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 4 large eggs

2 cups (235 g) self-rising flour

1 tablespoon milk

12 to 24 crystallized flowers (see below) Icing

9 tablespoons (125 g) butter, softened

2 cups (230 g) confectioner's sugar 2 tablespoons milk food coloring

1 Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). In a large bowl and using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until thoroughly combined and light and creamy.

2 Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition until well combined.

3 Sift flour into mixture. Using a plastic spatula or wooden spoon, fold in flour and milk until combined.

4 Divide mixture to make 12 cupcakes, filling each until two-thirds full; bake 15 minutes, or until golden. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

5 To make icing, mix butter and confectioner's sugar until creamy (about 2 minutes), using electric mixer. Add milk and food coloring, mixing until combined.

6 Ice cooled cakes and decorate with crystallized flowers. MAKES 12

Preparation 30 minutes plus 1 to 3 days for flowers (if making your own) Cooking 15 minutes

Crystallized flowers

12 to 24 rose or violet petals, or other edible flower petals

1 egg white, at room temperature few drops of water

1 Combine egg white with water; using a fork, beat lightly until white just shows bubbles. Place sugar in shallow dish.

2 Hold flower or petal in one hand; with other hand, dip a small paintbrush into egg white and gently paint flower or petal, covering flower or petal completely but not excessively. Gently sprinkle sugar over flower or petal.

3 Place flower or petal on wire rack covered with baking paper to dry. Repeat with remaining flowers or petals.

4 Allow flowers or petals to dry completely before use (about 12 to 36 hours, depending on humidity). Store crystallized flowers or petals in airtight container until required.

Drinks with herbs

Take the heat out of long, hot summers with refreshing drinks made simply and easily with fresh herbs and fruit.

Coriander and lime juice

4 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves 2 stalks celery

1 lime, peeled

2 medium green apples, cored and quartered 1 cup (250 ml) cranberry juice ice cubes

1 Put coriander, celery, lime and apples through juicer. Pour juice into large jug; add cranberry juice and ice. Serve chilled.

MAKES APPROXIMATELY 3 CUPS (750 ml) Preparation 5 minutes

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