Last month Megan and I made our dear friend Sonia lemon cupcakes for her birthday. Lemon cakes are supposed to be light and deliciously tangy. Unfortunately, the cupcakes we made for Sonia were not. While they tasted fine, they were very heavy, and the lemon buttercream icing that topped them tasted… off somehow.
So, fast forward to today. Megan and I wanted to make some lemon cupcakes that tasted like they should. And these were perfect! The cake was nice and light, and soooo lemony. Such an improvement on the last ones we tried!
Inspired by Amiee Bender’s new novel The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, we decided to frost our lemon cupcakes with chocolate buttercream icing. (This pairing tasted really good, despite the oddness of it! Of all the people who gave these a try, only one wasn’t a huge fan of the chocolate/lemon flavours, and she still ate a number of the cupcakes!)
Lemon cake recipe from Martha Stewart, tweaked slightly to make cupcakes. We made 24.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined.
Spoon batter into cupcake liners, about three quarters full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.
For the chocolate frosting, we chose to use the chocolate buttercream icing found in Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery by Martha Swift and Lisa Thomas.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
6oz semisweet chocolate
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature.
1 tablespoon 2% milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Break the chocolaate into pieces and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Melt in the microwave on medium in 30-second invtervals until smooth and of a thick pouring consistancy. Stir well in between, to avoid burning the chocolate. Alternatively melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until it has completely melted and is quite smooth. Leave to cool slightly.
In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, milk, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar until smooth – this can take several minutes with an electric hand mixer. add the melted chocolate and beat again until thick and creamy. If it looks too runny to use when trying to frost cupcakes or cakes, simply keep beating – this will thicken the frosting and improve its consistency.
One last thing: today, for the first time, we tested out new cupcake liners. These liners, by Cupcake Creations, are sturdy enough to stand up without muffin tins.
They come in lots of neat colours – in addition to the green/yellow ones pictures, we also have blue and orange ones, and there are lots of other ones available on their website. They were about the same price as normal cupcake liners. The only problem we found was that some (and by some, I mean 2 of the 24) warped into weird massive cupcakes. Not a big deal though, and it was nice not to have to worry about dripping on the muffin tin.