Lemon curd cupcakes

April 22, 2014 at 6:43 pm | Posted in baking | Leave a comment
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I am delighted to receive baking related presents: I rarely have to buy cupcake cases and I have a glorious selection that means there is something appropriate for any occasion. On a more mundane level my kitchen is kitted out with equipment that friends and family have bought, from the Kenwood Chef that marked my 30th birthday to an array of Sophie Conran serving items. So it is a real joy when these gifts all get put to good use to share some love with others.

Sunday afternoon tea is a total treat and the pleasure is magnified if someone else is hosting the party.  I was overjoyed to be invited to tea by Lynda, especially as she asked for volunteers to share the baking burden. A  tea party is a great excuse to make cupcakes creating the opportunity to use the piping bag stand that Ailsa had found in Lakeland for my birthday present and in transporting them to the venue I used the utterly essential cupcake carrier (also a gift!)

Iced and ready to go

Iced and ready to go

As the day was verging on the beginning of spring, I wanted to make something that was light and hinted at the promise of sunshine to come, which made me think of lemon cupcakes. I had experimented before with lemon curd buttercream and thought it delicious, but had not written down the recipe. So I thought I would try again, and would record the recipe for posterity if it was any good!

Making it

The cupcakes were the Hummingbird Bakery standard recipe using the zest of a lemon to make it lemony. Using the chosen cupcake cases (these were a gift too) I got 18 out of the batter made with 2 eggs.

The buttercream was basically improvised using some hints from a couple of different recipes on-line, but I wrote it down as I went along…. so here it is:

400g icing sugar

200g butter

4 tablespoons lemon curd (a standard jar from the supermarket is around 8 tablespoons)

juice of lemon (the one used for the zest in the cake)

This was all beaten in the Kenwood chef for about 10 minutes so that it became incredibly light and fluffy.

I used the piping bag stand to make it much easier to fill the piping bag and iced big (imperfect and uneven) swirls onto the cakes. I decorated them with some sweet little flags that matched the cupcake cases (they had come in a set)

Eating it

I love lemon curd. I love buttercream. The combination of the two is utterly amazing. I will admit that the icing is seriously sweet, which is why I put lemon juice in the icing to provide a slightly sharp note to cut through the extreme sweetness.

Next time

Hopefully I will resist eating leftover icing and not be so full of icing that I have no space for all other delicious cakes my friends had baked.

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A simple pasta supper (or why I wish I was more like Nigel Slater)

April 4, 2014 at 8:09 pm | Posted in savoury | 3 Comments
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I love Nigella, rely on Delia, occasionally seek out Jamie but I admire (and perhaps aspire to be more like) Nigel Slater. I love reading his books, watching his programmes but they present a world of food that is different to mine. His world always seems to have time to linger over food, to search out the obscure, grow ones own ingredients and experiment. My reality is more mundane – a quick trip to a supermarket and making the same thing time after time because it’s quick and reliable.  I don’t have time to think midweek  so I am more likely to incrementally tweak an existing recipe than try a bold experiment in the middle of a week.

So Nigel Slater’s recipes provide a rich vein of inspiration for the midweek supper. He has a great column in the Guardian to give options for something more interesting midweek.  His suggestion for pasta with baked aubergine and tomatoes caught my eye – it’s totally simple and reliant on ordinary ingredients. So I thought I would try it for supper with Sarah: she regularly comes for supper and has been the recipient many times of all ‘the usual options’.

Making it: As simple as it appears. Chop and roast. I was slightly disconcerted by the large quantity of olive oil I had to tip over it before the veg went in the oven. Plenty of time to start on a glass of wine and catching up on the news while the oven did the work!pasta for two

Eating it: Simple, subtle. Perhaps a bit too much olive oil and perhaps not quite robust enough for a not very warm April evening.

Next time: I think it would be better on a warm summer evening, perhaps with some olives in there as well to add more robustness and texture.

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