Today’s post is a celebration of the inimitable and enigmatic George Harrison. Today would have been his 73rd birthday, and in honor of him I made a special cupcake. These vegan chai spice cupcakes are delightfully subtle and nuanced, just like George. They are just as moist and fluffy as any other cupcake. And what they lack in dairy they make up for in spice. A delicious treat for any occasion; they make a perfect addition to a day celebrating this “quiet” man’s legacy.
So for George Harrison (and gardeners everywhere): this one’s for you!
You might be asking what makes this a George Harrison celebration cupcake. Well let me give you a little background info.
All of the Beatles traveled to India in 1968, but George was the one who became fully enthralled with Indian culture and Hinduism. Things like meditation and the sitar became integral parts of his life. In India, tea, or “chai” in Hindi, is often prepared with aromatic spices like cardamom and cinnamon. These cupcakes highlight those spices that are so integral to Indian cuisine.
As I mentioned, George embraced Hinduism and became a Hare Krishna devotee. One of the religion’s key principles is vegetarianism, including eliminating eggs from the diet. George became a vegetarian in the late 1960s. And while veganism is different than vegetariansim, I figured if I was getting rid of eggs I might as well get rid of milk and butter while I was at it.
If I had to choose just one the Beatles to follow around for a day, it would be George. My number one reason: gardening! George was an avid gardener, and as an amateur gardener myself, it would be fascinating to explore his expansive gardens at Friar Park or any of his other homes. He once said, “Sometimes I feel like I’m actually on the wrong planet. It’s great when I’m in my garden, but the minute I go out the gate I think, ‘What the hell am I doing here?” Therefore no George Harrison cupcake would be complete without a flower of some sort.
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened soy milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 3 cups confectioner's sugar
- 1 cup vegetable shortening
- 2 Tbsp unsweetened soy milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Green, red, and yellow food coloring
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Line 1 1/2 muffin pans with cupcake liners.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy milk, vegetable oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract.
- Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until combined.
- Fill the cupcake liners halfway full using a 1/4 measuring cup.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out without any raw batter.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool for a few minutes before removing them from the pan. Place cupcakes on a cooling rack to cool completely.
- In a large bowl, beat the vegetable shortening until it's light and fluffy.
- Add the confectioner's sugar and vanilla extract.
- Use an electric mixer to beat the ingredients together while slowly pouring in the soy milk. Beat for 2 minutes or until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.
- Scoop half of the frosting into another bowl. Add green food coloring to one bowl of frosting. Add red and yellow to the other to make a bright orange color.
- Scoop the green frosting into a piping bag with a 68 Wilton tip. Pipe a ring of leaves around the outside of the cupcake.
- Scoop the orange frosting into a piping bag with 5 Wilton tip. Pipe a nickel size mound of frosting in the center of the cupcakes. Switch the tip to a 81 Wilton tip. Hold the bag at a 45° angle and pull up to pipe the flower petals. Lift up and away slightly as you release pressure for each petal. Start on the outside edge of the flower and work your way toward the center.
Vegan frosting isn’t ideal for cake decorating, but I was pleasantly surprised how well these turned out! If you’re having trouble getting the frosting to hold its shape, try refrigerating it for a while. Or you can forgo the decorative flower all together. Just dye all the frosting the color of your choice and spread it on with a spatula.
With spring just around the corner and the ice slowly melting *wink-wink*, it’s time to indulge in a little treat. I hope these vegan chai spice cupcakes brighten, or should I say spice-up, your day. Turn on a playlist of your favorite George Harrison songs and enjoy the fruits of your labors. Let me know what you think of this recipe in the comments. Now I think I’m going to curl up on the couch with a cupcake and watch Living in the Material World.
Check out my other Beatles-inspired cupcakes:
- Paul McCartney: Vegan Chocolate, Lemon, & Lavender Cupcakes
- Ringo Starr: Tie-Dye Vanilla Cupcakes
- John Lennon: Scotcheroo Cupcakes