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.


The great cupcake tower

December 30, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Posted in baking | Leave a comment
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Careful readers have noticed that there was a bit of a posting drought during November and December… and I think that this time I have reason (instead of an excuse) and it was all to do with cupcakes!  When my mate Debbie got engaged to Nigel earlier in the year, I offered to make brownies or some such for the wedding – as they were planning on doing as much of the day as simply as possible. But in September, the offer got upgraded – to making me responsible for the provision of the cupcakes that were to be the wedding cake!

Fortunately I didn’t have to make the cakes all myself and had Jenni, Ruth and Lucy on standby to make their share of the cakes… but was responsible for sorting out the recipes and pulling it all together for the big day. So began 3 months of cupcake thinking (and baking!).

The colour scheme for the wedding was elegant black and white (with some red and silver highlights) so we found cases that matched the colour scheme and decided that the cakes needed to have white icing with some silver glitter. This was not difficult for the vanilla cupcakes but a little more involved for the chocolate cupcakes, because I wanted to maximise the chocolate hit by using a chocolate icing as well. So it was time to research white chocolate icing…

After a bit of wandering around the internet – I found a couple of options: a traditional buttercream enhanced with white chocolate and combinations of white chocolate and cream. So the only thing to do was to have a tasting session. Thus a group  (including the bride and groom to be) was gathered up for an afternoon tea with oodles of cake.

The vanilla cakes were straight from the Hummingbird Bakery book and the chocolate cake providing the base for the icing experiment was also from Hummingbird book. (This is a straight forward recipe to make – and in the interests of heading towards consistency I was even measuring the batter into the cases to get them evenly sized – 50ml of batter gets 18 from a 2 egg mix).

The icing: I used this white chocolate buttercream and Bill Grainger’s white chocolate and sour cream icing.

The buttercream icing was simple to make – but couldn’t be left for long because as the chocolate cooled the icing became increasingly solid. The sour cream icing was a bit more involved – and it never got very thick – but repeated beatings (using the electric hand whisk) gave it sufficient structure as it got cool to be piped. But it was thick enough to make soft icing swirls.

My guests were deeply committed to the task of tasting and comparing the icings – either on the cake or as stand-alone spoonfuls – and the near unanimous conclusion was that the sour cream icing was the best as the sour cream offsets the sweetness of the white chocolate. 

But there was a need for another trial – as I had concluded that  the chocolate cake was provided an inadequate chocolate hit. So I made them a week later with more cocoa powder (60g cocoa to 180g flour instead of 40g flour to 200g flour in the Hummingbird recipe) and this was much better: stronger flavour and a slightly lighter texture.

So with the recipes perfected – it was time to distribute the duties for the big day… I ended up making vanilla cupcakes and some gluten-free cupcakes . So that was 4 dozen cupcakes… which was fairly simple, but disaster nearly struck when i made the vanilla buttercream – making enough to cover this many cakes was taxing for the Kenwood as the butter wasn’t very soft (it required 1 kg of icing sugar). But eventually the butter softened and a vast bowlful of buttercream was created. They all looked pretty good iced and ready to be boxed up.

On the morning of the wedding, the rest of the cakes were delivered to me, before  I headed to reception venue to assemble the tower.  Fortunately it was only a short drive, so no damage was done to the cakes in transit.

I had also bought a little Christmas cake to act as the top layer of the cake so there was a cake to cut and this was made more beautiful with a lovely flower arrangement in a family heirloom vase. The florist then made the tower more beautiful by strewing it with rose petals.

The tower looked pretty good… and went down really well with the guests. We had cellophane bags for people to take a cake home with them if they were too full! So happily all the cakes were distributed and hopefully enjoyed!

So thank you to team cupcake for all your help in making beautiful cakes. Thank you to all the taste-testers and those who have suffered my rambling thoughts on all things cupcake. Most importantly – CONGRATULATIONS to Debbie and Nigel and thank you for trusting me with your cake – I hope I didn’t let you down!



Recipe 68: Tiramisu cupcakes for a hen party

September 4, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Posted in baking | Leave a comment

This weekend I threw a party!

It was a tea party in honour of my beautiful, lovely friend Audrey who is marrying Martin next weekend. Its been a short engagement as they are keen to start their new life together, and so the last couple of months have been hectic getting everything organised for the big day, and more importantly the life that comes after that. But there was time in the diary today to have a tea party as the hen do and I was delighted to be able to host the great event.

As it was a hen do – I decided to major on all things pink and hearts… so the full menu was:

  • Smoked salmon and cream cheese on soda bread
  • Ham and mustard sandwiches
  • Heart shaped biscuits (using Nigella’s cut out cookie recipe which is delicious and easy!) – crazily iced with red and white icing
  • Meringues with whipped cream and strawberries
  • Tiramisu cupcakes (the new recipe – more detail to follow)
  • Old fashioned chocolate cake decorated with a dusting of heart-shaped sprinkles

All served with lots of love and laughter, accompanied with plenty of sparkling wine. I’d also decorated the flat with lots of pink things, and had made a banner in honour of the event. I was delighted with how the banner turned out – more “Martha Stewart” than “Blue Peter” – a real achievement for someone like me who is not all that neat (exciting new discovery is spray mount – glue in an aerosol can!)

Following on from the success of the mojito cupcakes earlier in the summer and as Audrey loves coffee cake – I thought the tea party would be perfect for trying out the tiramisu cupcakes from the Love Bakery book (even more appropriate as Audrey gave me the book in the first place). If the cakes were  flop, there would be plenty of other cake, so it would all be fine!

Making them: the cakes were simple sponge fairy cakes. The instructions were for large cupcake sized cakes, but I thought that mini cakes would work better at a tea party so that everyone could feel able to have a small piece of everything! So instead of making 12 cupcakes, the recipe produced 48 mini cupcakes (in very sweet heart patterned cases). Once they came out of the oven, the magic began as they were then anointed with a syrup made from marsala wine, coffee and some sugar – transforming them into moist bites reminiscent of a tiramisu. The final touch was the icing – made from mascarpone cheese, icing sugar and double cream. I had decided a couple of weeks ago that I needed to conquer my fear of the piping bag, so have been practising – and managed to produce some respectable swirls for the tops of the cake. The finishing touch was a dusting of cocoa powder.

Eating them: One guest said that they were the most delicious cupcakes they had ever eaten!  The icing was unbelievably lovely, and the syrup turned ordinary sponge cake into something scrumptious. The finished article definitely was as yummy as tiramisu, but even lighter!

Next time: there so will be a next time… and I’m not sure I’d change much!

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