Our everyday ingredients give us huge scope to harness science to achieve stupendous results. In these recipes it's the humectants and emulsifiers that star. Fruit purees are a great way of keeping a moist, soft texture in cakes, and nut or seed purees like peanut butter and tahini are great at emulsifying fats and liquids that also help with the texture and keeping qualities. These cakes are gluten-free and suitable for vegans.
100g chopped dried apricots
200ml boiling water
125ml almond or sunflower oil
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
100g castor sugar
225g gluten-free white flour mix
2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
limoncello or Cointreau, optional
100g coconut oil
2 tsp lemon juice
30ml almond or soy milk
350g icing sugar
1. Line the pockets of a muffin tray with eight muffin papers and heat the oven to 180C or 160C fan-forced.
2. Put the apricots in a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for 10 minutes. Then add the oil, lemon zest and one tablespoon of lemon juice. Transfer this to a food processor and whiz it on high speed for a few minutes until the mixture is utterly smooth and creamy.
3. Tip the apricot puree into a mixing bowl and beat in the sugar. While it's still warm, add the flour and baking powder and stir everything together until smooth.
4. Spoon into the muffin papers, almost to the top, then bake for about 25 minutes, until a skewer poked in comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tray as they're very fragile while warm. If you like, you can spoon a little limoncello or Cointreau on to each cake while they're warm.
5. For the frosting, warm the coconut oil until it has melted and turned liquid. Add the tahini, lemon juice, almond milk and icing sugar then beat for two to three minutes until thick and smooth. Leave to sit for a few minutes until it holds its shape, then pipe with a star nozzle on to the cupcakes before serving.