Saturday, February 11, 2012

Lemon Cupcakes

When I chose the flavors of my wedding cake {strawberry with strawberry filling}, my comptroller, I mean, my Dad, staged a mutiny.  He abhors strawberries.  So I let him choose one layer that could be any flavor he wanted.  He chose lemon cake with a lemon curd filling.

On Thursday my Dad turned 50.  I used his extreme dislike for strawberries and his love for all things lemon as the inspiration for his birthday cupcakes:  lemon cupcakes filled with lemon curd topped with lemon cream cheese icing and garnished with candied lemon peel.

Word of warning:  I took the following pictures with my iPhone because the DSLR is dead, dead, dead.  If something requires clarification, leave me a comment and I'll do my best to help you out!  Also, please ignore my disaster of a kitchen. 

For the cake you'll need:
  • 2 1/4 cups of cake flour {I used the unbleached stuff}
  • 1 tbsp. of baking powder
  • Small pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups of buttermilk {I used fat free}
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • The zest of two lemons
  • 8 tbsps {1 stick} of room temperature, unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon of syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon of real lemon extract

Step One:  Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

Step Two:  Whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites.
Admit've always wanted to use an egg separator.
 Step Three:  Zest the lemons and add to the sugar.  Then, twist it all round with your fingers until the sugar is kind of moist.  Bonus:  when you wash your hands, scrub the leftover lemon-sugar on your sugar scrub!

You guys, I KNOW I'm a hand model, okay?  No need to make a big deal about it.
 Step Five:  Cream in the butter.

After looking at this picture, I'm kicking myself for not charging the Nikon.  Oh, well!
Step Five:  Add in half of the flour mixture and beat.  Then, add in half the milk mixture and beat.  Repeat until you've added in everything.  Your batter should look like this:
Unlike boxed cake mixes, this mix will be super foamy and spongy looking. 
Step Six:  Fill your cupcake liners {I used a very full ice cream scoop}.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

While my cupcakes were cooking, I made my lemon curd and lemon cream cheese frosting.  I used Ina Garten's lemon curd recipe and it was super simple! 

Simply combine the zest of three lemons, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 1 stick of unsalted, room temperature butter, 4 eggs, 1/2 a cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice {2-3 lemons}, and a pinch of Kosher salt.  I combined all of the ingredients using my mixer and the paddle attachment before pouring it into a saucepan.  Whisk over low heat for 10 to 20 minutes {until it becomes like pudding}.  That's all, folks!  

For the frosting you'll need:
  • 2 blocks of cream cheese {room temperature}
  • 1 stick of unsalted, room temperature butter
  • 2 pounds of powdered sugar
  • The juice of one lemon
  • Yellow food coloring
Using my mixer, I tossed in the cream cheese, butter, and lemon juice.  Then I beat it for three minutes.  Then, I slowly added the powdered sugar in increments.  

To fill my cupcakes, I hollowed out the center.  Then I simply poured the lemon curd into the hole.

P.S.  You'll have about a cup of lemon curd leftover.  Spread it on some toast, make some raspberry scones, or eat it with a spoon...I won't tell!
After you fill your cupcakes, wipe up any spills off the top.  Then, you're ready to pipe on the icing.  I used a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off, but you can get fancy with piping bags and tips if you'd like.

I topped my cupcakes with a candied lemon garnish.  You can probably buy these somewhere, but I followed this recipe to make my own.  It was simple and painless.

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