10 March 2013

Lemon Cupcakes

Last week I showed you my cupcake designs inspired by a Cath Kidston competition. I made a few batches of these over the week due to various commitments and requests for sugary treats, and I think that I have just about nailed the perfect recipe. Previously, I found that plain cupcake recipes either give me too much of a sloppy mix resulting in heavy cupcakes, or are based on a classic sponge which is to dry a recipe to work for portion-sized cakes. Then I hit upon the idea of using cornflower to thicken the mix and give a light texture. I am an advocate of creaming butter and sugar together, rather than blitzing the butter into the dry ingredients, because it is so easy to be left with a few sneaky lumps of butter. I also like to use lemon curd to give an extra tangy kick.
Lemon Cupcakes -makes 12 large cupcakes or 18-24 fairy cakes
  • 60g butter, at room temperature
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Zest of 1-2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp lemon curd (optional)
  • 10g corn flour
  • 150ml lukewarm milk, ideally whole
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt (if butter is unsalted)
Preheat the oven to gas mark 3, 170'C
Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl for around five minutes, until creamy and fluffy. Gently beat in the egg -if I have time, I like to separate the egg, give the white a quick beat, then slowly add them in, egg white first. This gives a lighter texture and helps to ensure that the egg doesn't curdle. Beat in the zest and curd, if using.
Mix the corn flour with a little of the milk to form a paste. Add in the rest of the milk slowly to the corn flour paste, stirring well to avoid any lumps. Gradually add half of this to the creamed butter mix. Makes sure that is incorporated, and add in half of the flour with the baking powder, mix, then keep on adding and alternating the milk and flour to the mix until everything is combined. If using, add the salt.
Note: to make vanilla cupcakes, omit the lemon zest and curd, and add vanilla essence to the milk.
Spoon into the cake cases so that each is around two thirds full. Bake for 20-25 minutes -if making smaller cakes, keep an eye on them after 15 minutes -until lightly golden, and they spring back when touched. While they cool, get making the icing. You could simple spread over a little lemon curd, topped with a circle of fondant icing, or make my lemony buttercream:
Lemon Buttercream:
  • 250g icing sugar, sifted a couple of times
  • 50g butter, softened
  •  Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tsp lemon curd
  • Milk -I needed 10-15ml.
Gently cream the icing sugar and butter together. I usually do this by hand to save mess. It always amazes me how it all comes together when it looks like there is nowhere near enough butter for the amount of icing. Add the zest and curd, then start to beat, adding milk a drop at a time until you have the right consistency. The icing should be stiff enough to hold it's shape for piping. Continue to beat for at least five minutes with an electric mixer until the icing is nice and light. Transfer into a piping bag, and get icing!


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