Mail-order hibiscus flowers. That’s where I went with this recipe, from The New Way to Cake, by Benjamina Ebuehi. I made big fat cupcakes, with a darling pink frosting.

Hibiscus Buttermilk Cakes
The New Way to Cake

2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup unsalted butter
1¼ cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
3 eggs
⅔ cup plus 1 Tbsp. buttermilk, room temperature

4 Tbsp. dried hibiscus flowers
½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
½ cup water

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Pinch of salt
2 Tbsp. milk
3 Tbsp. Hibiscus Syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the holes of large and/or small cupcake tins and dust lightly with flour, tapping out any excess flour.

To make the cake, in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla using a stand mixer for 4 minutes, until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add half of the flour and beat briefly until combined. Pour in the buttermilk followed by the remaining flour and beat for a few seconds until you have a smooth batter. Pour the batter into each cupcake hole, three-quarters of the way up. Bake large cupcakes for 25 minutes, small cupcakes for 19:30. Let them cool for 5 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the syrup, add the dried hibiscus, sugar and water to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the syrup starts to thicken a little. Strain the syrup to remove the dried flowers and leave to cool.

To make the buttercream, beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the buttercream is thick and fluffy. Add the milk and beat until combined and then pour in the cooled hibiscus syrup and beat until you have a smooth, pink buttercream. You can add more hibiscus syrup 1 Tbsp. at a time until you reach the color you prefer.

Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream and decorate with dried hibiscus flowers.

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As Benjamina emphasizes, make sure to bring your eggs, butter, buttermilk and milk to room temperature before you dive into this cake project.

Rather than dried flowers like dried tea leaves, my hibiscus flowers were dried to smell like and feel like raisins. Still, I was able to steep them with the sugar and water to make my hibiscus syrup.

As you mix the butter and sugar for the batter, smell that vanilla (it’s dreamy). My batter was too thick to “pour,” so I spooned it into my cupcake tins.

With this batter, I made 6 big muffins and 3 small ones. The baked cakes smelled just like nice cupcakes.

As for the buttercream, I needed to add all of my hibiscus syrup (10 Tbsp.) to achieve a subtle pink color.

If the cupcakes are somewhat unspectacular, the buttercream is alluring. Sweet, buttery cream.

Each month The Cake Slice Bakers are offered a selection of cakes from the current book we are baking through. This year it is The New Way To Cake by Benjamina Ebuehi. We each choose one cake to bake, and then on the 20th - never before - we all post about our cake on our blogs. There are a few rules that we follow, but the most important ones are to have fun and enjoy baking & eating cakes!

Follow our Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest pages where you can find all of our cakes, as well as inspiration for many other cakes. You can also click on the thumbnail pictures below to take you to each of our cakes. If you have a blog and are interested in joining The Cake Slice Bakers and baking along with us, please send an email to thecakeslicebakers at gmail dot com for more details.

The Cake Slice Bakers also have a new Facebook group called The Cake Slice Bakers and Friends. This group is perfect for those who do not have a blog but want to join in the fun and bake through this book.

It is a new year and a new book - The New Way To Cake - and our choices for May 2020 were ~

Chamomile Cake with Honey Crème Fraîche

Hibiscus Buttermilk Cake