Lemon cupcakes

Lemon.  It is zesty and refreshing.  I love how the sharp citrus flavour bursts in your mouth.  These lemon cupcakes are the last of the “40th anniversary” series.  I wanted to balance the sweeter coffee and chocolate flavours with something that had a little more bite.

These were made from my basic cake batter recipe.  I used buttermilk instead of milk to increase the tangy flavour, and replaced vanilla with the zest of two lemons.

So now the ensemble is complete.

Chocolate
Vanilla
Coffee

Lemon

Happy 40 years in Australia.

To my kind and loving father, who passed away too soon, and too quickly, these are for you.  (I think you would have liked the lemon! xxx)

To my beautiful and generous mother, happy 40th anniversary.  Thank you for moving to a warm and welcoming country.  To my birth land.  My home.

{ Lemon Cupcakes }
Add more or less zest depending on your taste.

 * Ingredients *

1 1/2 cups of plain / all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
125g unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
100 ml buttermilk
Zest of two lemons

* Directions *

Preheat the oven to 180C or 350F.  Sift the flour and baking powder together.  Set aside.  Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the side of bowl as necessary.  Beat in the zest.  Mix in the flour in three parts, alternating with the milk.  Spoon into cupcake wrappers and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked.  Allow to cool, and then top with your favourite frosting or ganache.

Makes 12 cupcakes

{ Lemon Butter cream }

* Ingredients *

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
250g or 2 sticks of unsalted butter
Zest of one lemon

* Directions *

In a bowl over simmering water, whisk the eggs whites and sugar.  Cook until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature reaches 160F or 70C.  Transfer the bowl to a stand mixer and on a medium speed, beat until you reach firm peaks, about 5 minutes.  Slow the speed and add in the room temperature butter one piece at a time.  If the mixture appears to curdle, keep beating on medium speed until smooth again.  Add in zest or any other flavour combination until smooth.

Makes 4 cups

Advertisement

Coffee Cupcakes

It was a few months back when I thought it would be a marvellous idea to detox.  Rid my body of all those nasties lurking within.  There was one catch.  It required me giving up my beloved caffeine ritual.  Since drinking coffee back I late high school, I could not remember a day when it has not helped to facilitate consciousness of a morning.  How did I think I could manage without it?  How was I going to wake up?  How was I going to function?

Sometimes I display a fierce strong will, and this was one of those times.  I managed to push away any coffee urges.  Ignore them.  Turn my back on the cravings.  I was anticipating one of those hideous coffee withdrawal headaches, but surprisingly, none came (quite astonishing given there was quite significant daily consumption).

But towards the end of the week, I began to ponder how I would deal with this long term.  Would this mean I may no longer drink coffee – at all?  I actually like the taste of coffee.  In moderation, why would I not drink it?  So, as quickly as I stopped, I was back to my coffee consuming ways.

And I have not looked back!

My mother is also quite partial to coffee.  Especially in dessert form.  So as part of my “40th anniversary” cupcakes, I knew I had to features a coffee version in the mix (along with chocolate and vanilla – and lemon, to come!).

I adapted this cake from my basic vanilla cupcake recipe.  The substitutions were limited and simple.  1) Brown sugar instead of white sugar.  2) Including a shot of strong espresso and reducing the milk by the same volume.

I also used my basic butter cream frosting.  I added, once again, a shot of espresso during the final stages of beating to not only finish with a lovely latte colour, but subtle coffee flavour. 

{ Coffee Cupcakes }
If you love coffee desserts, you will love this little cupcake.

 * Ingredients *

1 1/2 cups of plain / all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
125g unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 cup brown sugar, packed tightly
2 eggs
100 ml milk
30 ml strong espresso

* Directions *

Preheat the oven to 180C or 350F.  Sift the flour and baking powder together.  Set aside.  Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the side of bowl as necessary.  Beat in the espresso.  Mix in the flour in three parts, alternating with the milk.  Spoon into cupcake wrappers and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked.  Allow to cool, and then top with your favourite frosting or ganache.

Makes 12 cupcakes

{ Coffee Butter cream }

* Ingredients *

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
250g or 2 sticks of unsalted butter
30 mls espresso

* Directions *

In a bowl over simmering water, whisk the eggs whites and sugar.  Cook until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature reaches 160F or 70C.
Transfer the bowl to a stand mixer and on a medium speed, beat until you reach firm peaks, about 5 minutes.  Slow the speed and add in the room temperature butter one piece at a time.  If the mixture appears to curdle, keep beating on medium speed until smooth again.  Add in espresso or any other flavour combination until smooth.

Makes 4 cups

Vanilla Cupcakes

Most people are well aware of my macaron obsession.  So imagine my excitement at work when I discovered there was a ‘new hire’ in the department.  A lovely young French girl from Paris.  Needless to say, the charming Ms Couzelin has become one of my key macaron taste-testers since.  She shares the love of Ladurée macarons and has tasted many in her lifetime.  I am always grateful for her feedback on my macaron efforts (usually positive, which is always encouraging!).

I arrived at work yesterday to find she had been baking over the weekend in preparation for Bastille Day.  This is her first Bastille Day away from home.  So she could share the festivities with us all, she emailed around a little invitation to come try her delicious pies, with a little background on Bastille Day.

  “220 years ago, the French people were starving and were really angry cause they had to give all their wheat to the monarchy…
The queen asked: “Why are they so upset?”
The servant answered: “Because they don’t have any bread to eat”
The queen replied: “They should eat brioche then!”
The people didn’t appreciate the joke and you know what happened to the Queen!

Come eat my lemon pie, pear-chocolate pie and a Brittany specialty!”

The first thing I had to do was make a bee-line for her desk and sample each of her French offerings.  (All exceptional!)  Next, I needed to beg for the recipes – particularly for the secretive ‘Brittany specialty’ that her Grandmother used to make.  (With luck I will be able to bake these myself one day soon!)

Hopefully Ms Couzelin will not be offended by the little cupcakes I made in honour of Bastille Day.  Cake is probably a little insensitive, all things considered.  The vanilla cupcakes though are actually part of my trial baking for the upcoming “40th anniversary” celebrations.  I used quite a strong vanilla flavour through the use of pure vanilla seed extract, so consequently termed these French Vanilla Cupcakes.  All things considered, these little cupcakes just screamed to be posted today, Bastille day, or La Fête Nationale!

{ French Vanilla Cupcakes }
This is my most basic cupcake recipe.  It is easily adapted and invaluable to have in your baking repertoire.

 * Ingredients *

1 1/2 cups of plain / all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
125g unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla seed

* Directions *

Preheat the oven to 180C or 350F.  Sift the flour and baking powder together.  Set aside.  Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the side of bowl as necessary.  Mix in the flour in three parts, alternating with the milk.  Spoon into cupcake wrappers and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked.  Allow to cool, and then top with your favourite frosting or ganache.

Makes 12 cupcakes

{ Vanilla Butter cream }

* Ingredients *

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
250g or 2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* Directions *

In a bowl over simmering water, whisk the eggs whites and sugar.  Cook until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature reaches 160F or 70C.

Transfer the bowl to a stand mixer and on a medium speed, beat until you reach firm peaks, about 5 minutes.  Slow the speed and add in the room temperature butter one piece at a time.  If the mixture appears to curdle, keep beating on medium speed until smooth again.  Add in vanilla or any other flavour combination until smooth.

Makes 4 cups

Devils Food Cupcakes

Forty years ago my parents made the momentous decision to pack up their lives in the thriving metropolis of London, and migrate to the sleepy town of Brisbane.  The relocation was a culture shock to them both.  They went from living in one of the largest cities in the world, to one of the most provincial.

My parents were fortunate to travel by plane when they made the lengthy journey to Australia.  The vantage point from the air allowed them to take in the vast land that would soon be their home.

As a child, I remember hearing the stories about them flying into Sydney.  Their first glimpse of Australia.  My parents noticed, what they thought were, little garden sheds peppering every house lot.  As a couple that shared the enjoyment of spending a little time outdoors, they were impressed by the seemingly widespread passion for gardening.  They soon were to discover, however, that the little sheds were the ‘outdoor plumbing’, so to speak.

Even in my lifetime, Australia (and Brisbane in particular), has grown enormously.  Much has changed since 1969.  Most importantly, over that time, Australia has become home.

To celebrate, I wish to present 40 celebratory cupcakes to my Mother to mark the occasion.   This is my first cupcake trial.  I am actually planning four different flavours.  10 cupcakes of each flavour. First is chocolate. (Then coffee, vanilla and lemon.) 

This recipe for Devil’s Food Cake is a versatile batter. It can readily be converted from cupcakes to a single round cake. (Use the same amount of mixture and directions indicated, but bake for 50 minutes in 20cm tin.) The inclusion of cocoa produces a delicate, creamy flavour. The crumb is light without being too fluffy and airy. It is a great cake to make when you do not have time to let butter soften to room temperature – the butter is first melted with sugar.

I wanted a contrast for the frosting so instead of opting for the typical (yet more-ish!) chocolate ganache, I selected a Swiss meringue butter cream. I find this one of the most adaptable frostings around. To the basic recipe you can mix in vanilla, stir in melted chocolate, add a shot of espresso, fold in fruit preserve, or some citrus zest for your own distinctive flavour combination.

I hope to use Swiss meringue butter cream for all the “40th” cupcakes. I will simply make one large batch, portion out into four, then fold in my extra flavour to complement each cupcake.

{ Devil’s Food Cupcakes}

* Ingredients *

1 cup all-purpose flour (plain flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup of cocoa
1/4 boiling water
125g or 1 stick of unsalted butter
3/4 sugar
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup sour cream

* Directions *

Preheat the oven to 180C or 350F.  Sift the flour and baking soda and powder into a bowl.  Mix the boiling water with the cocoa to make a paste.  Heat the butter and sugar in a small saucepan over a low heat.  Once the butter and sugar has completely melted, transfer to a mixer.  Beat until the mixture cools, about 4-5 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly.  Add the cocoa mixture until incorporated.  Mix in the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the sour cream.  Divide the batter into 12 cupcake wrappers.  Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked.  Stand for 10-15 minutes in the tin before turning out to a cooling rack.  Once cooled, frost with chocolate ganache or Swiss meringue butter cream.

Makes 12 cupcakes

{ Vanilla Butter cream }

* Ingredients *

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
250g or 2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* Directions *

In a bowl over simmering water, whisk the eggs whites and sugar.  Cook until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature reaches 160F or 70C.

Transfer the bowl to a stand mixer and on a medium speed, beat until you reach firm peaks, about 5 minutes.  Slow the speed and add in the room temperature butter one piece at a time.  If the mixture appears to curdle, keep beating on medium speed until smooth again.  Add in vanilla or any other flavour combination until smooth.

Makes 4 cups

Apple Pie Cupcakes

I remember my first 4th of July holiday like it was yesterday.  My beautiful friend, Sharlene, invited me to stay with her and her husband’s family at picturesque Chatham on the Cape.

It was everything I would expect from a 4th of July celebration.  Lots of extended family.  Kids running around.  Happy banter.  The requisite barbecue.  Endless food.  The atmosphere was so warm and friendly, and the family so gracious and welcoming.

I will never forget that day.

4th of July represented summer to me.  Living in (sometimes arctic cold) Boston, you relished summer.  The sun.  The clear blue, warm sky.  Weekends at Cape Cod.  Baseball.  Ice-cream.

For at least a couple of months, you are not thinking about how long it takes you to shovel snow from your driveway, you are not thinking about the sub-zero weather outside, you are not thinking about needing to drive so carefully you do not hit black ice and careen into someone’s fence. 

For a few months, winter is behind you.  Summer is here.  Coming from the sub-tropics, for the first time while living in Boston I experienced summer.  A season that was so distinct.  Kerrin at MyKugelhopf just celebrated 1 year in Zurich.  She reminded me of my 5 years in Boston, and the growing familiarity you experience of new surroundings over time. 

To my gorgeous friend Sharlene, her husband, beautiful daughter (and bub #2 on the way), these Apple Pie Cupcakes are for you.  Happy 4th of July to you all. 

{ Apple Pie Cupcakes }

These cupcakes are absolutely moist and delicious.  When they were baking, if I did not know, I would have guessed I really did have apple pie in the oven.

* Ingredients *

Cake batter:
1 ½ cups plain / all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
125g / 1 stick unsalted butter
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
¾ cup milk
1 apple, peeled, cored and sliced thinly

Topping:
½ cup cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar
Sweet shortcrust pastry

* Directions *

Preheat oven to 180C / 350F.  Line a 12 count muffin tins with cupcake papers. Sift together flours, baking powder and cinnamon.   Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add eggs beating until each is incorporated.  Add flour in three batches, alternating with milk.  Divide mixture between the cupcake papers.  Carefully insert 3-4 slices of apple on the top of the cake mixture.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.  For the topping, beat the cream and icing sugar until just stiff.  Pipe on top of the cupcakes and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Top the cream with sweet shortcrust pastry in desired shape.

4th of July