Friday, September 10, 2010

Foodie Friday – Lemon Cupcakes

After sharing my homemade limoncello recipe last week, I thought I'd share its most common use in my house, other than the drinking of course. Recently I've been baking one batch of cupcakes a week, and these have proven to be quite popular. Cupcakes are making a huge comeback, with many dedicated bakeries turning up in practically place I've been in the last 2 years. However, the humble cupcake has come a long way from the crazy kiddy creations seen at many a childhood party, finding themselves thrust into the spotlight as alternatives to a traditional wedding cake, or as a delicious accompaniment to your morning tea break in between city errands. My cupcake batter is always quite thick, rather than the runny stuff we used to make with mum as kids, but they still turn out to be moist, slightly fluffy, but very dense in flavour. The limoncello gives these a great boost, with the end result being a fresh, zingy, sweet treat.

Lemon Cupcakes

Number depends on your tray size, I usually get 12 large.

The Line Up

1 ½ cups plain flour
¾ cup sugar
½ cup butter (softened)
2 eggs (separated)
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsps baking powder
Pinch salt
½ cup lemon juice
Lemon rind, grated
For Icing
¾ cup Icing sugar
½ cup Butter
½ cup Cream cheese
Lemon rind, grated
Dash of Limoncello


The Game Plan
  1. Preheat oven to 180oC/350oF. Line a cupcake tray with paper liners.
  2. Place butter, egg yolks and sugar into a large bowl, and mix well until creamy. Add vanilla essence and combine well.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, then add baking powder and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the egg yolk mixture, adding a little lemon juice each time until all ingredients are combined. Add a goog glug of limoncello with the last of the flour.
  4. Beat the egg whites and fold into the mixture, then spoon the batter into the cupcake liners until they are about 2/3 full. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. When ready, they should still be soft on top, but spring back after being touched. Remove from the oven and cool for 5-10 minutes, then transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. While the cupcakes are baking and filling your kitchen with that heavenly lemony scent, place all the icing ingredients into a bowl and mix until well combined and lump free. It should stiffen slightly while you're waiting for the cupcakes to cool, but if it is too runny, add some more sugar. If it's too stiff, add a little limoncello or lemon juice. Once your cupcakes have cooled completely, transfer your icing to a piping bag, and make fancy swirly mountains of lemon cream cheese icing goodness atop your delicate morsels.
The Interchange
  • I usually don't add more decoration (I have enough trouble saving them from being devoured before the icing goes on!), but try topping with some extra grated rind, or strips of candied lemon peel. I stumbled across Brown Eyed Baker's insanely beautiful limoncello cupcake creation, where not only were they beautifully presented with a slice of lemon and a raspberry, but they had lemon curd filling! Can see some experimentation coming on!
  • Try adding some poppy seeds to the batter before adding the egg white for some visual interest.
  • The alcohol in the batter will cook off during baking, but consider omitting the limoncello from the icing if cooking with munchkins in mind.

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