Madame Maria Floris opened her legendary Soho bakery and patisserie in January 1939. The Hungarian sponge cakes, almond pastries and coffee cream gateaux are still recalled with awe, and she also famously supplied birthday cakes for Winston Churchill, one of which was a cake formed in a spiral decorated with 32 models of his famous hats.
Alas the bakery is no more, but the memory lingers on in the recipe for these cupcakes I have updated from a book Madame Floris wrote for the International Wine and Food Society in the 1960s.
Given their name, is it pure coincidence the shop was located but an arrow's flight from Piccadilly Circus?
Makes 8 cupcakes
● 100g butter
● 100g caster sugar
● 120g flour
● ½ tsp baking powder
● Pinch of salt
● 1 large egg, beaten
● Vanilla extract, to taste
● 50g finely chopped candied peel
● 1 tbsp brandy
● 150g icing sugar (plus vanilla extract or lemon juice)
● 4 glacé cherries
● Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a cupcake tin with paper cases.
● Cream the butter and beat in the sugar.
● Sieve the flour with the baking powder and salt. Add to the creamed butter alternately with the egg.
● Add the candied peel, vanilla and brandy. If required, add a little warm water to form a mixture of "stiff dropping" consistency - it should take a little shake to remove it from a spoon.
● Half-fill paper cases with the mixture and bake for 10-15 minutes. Cool the cakes on a wire tray.
● Make the icing by adding a little water to the sugar. Flavour with either vanilla or lemon juice, and spoon over the cakes.
● Top each cake with half a cherry - or quarters to avoid maidenly blushes.