Friday, 27 March 2009

Mother's Day Baking

Seeing as birthday cards to me arrived late and my sister's never even turned up, I've decided the (Royal mail, of course) post is too unreliable to send anything of monetary value through it. With that in mind, I decided to send some baked goods instead. I was lucky enough to be given loads of lovely cook books for my birthday so I took this recipe for Lemon and Poppyseed cupcakes from Cupcakes! and they turned out absolutely beautifully and were incredibly moist. To make them a bit more gift like looking I decorated them with vanilla buttercream and added a lemon swirl made with the Lemon Sauce recipe in the same book and finished them with some sugar flowers I bought from ebay.

And here they are finished:

Here's the recipe. It's in American units which I've always found incredibly infuriating, especially when recipes call for sticks of butter. So a while ago I invested in a set of the Nigella Lawson measuring cups which helps alot, but I still feel out of my comfort zone. I need proper units of measurement! The upside of this book is that while it doesn't give proper units of measurement, at least it converts sticks of things into cups of things. Half a stick of butter is equivalent to a quarter cup apparently.

For 12 cupcakes:

1 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (About 190 degrees C, I think). Line the cupcake tin.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl ad set aside. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar until blended and light in colour. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until each is totally incorporated and the batter is creamy. Add the poppyseeds, lemon zest and vanilla. On a low speed add half of the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Add the buttermilk and mix and then the last of the flour until the batter is smooth.

Fill each paper case with a 1/4 cup of the mixture and bake until the top feels firm, which should take about 18 minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes in the tin before transferring to a cooling rack.

As for the buttercream I never use a recipe for it and I tend to mix it by eye (and taste of course), but if pushed I'd say I used 1/2 a pack of butter (125g) and a half to 2/3s pack of icing sugar (so, 250g-300g) and a tsp vanilla extract.

For 1 cup of the lemon sauce:

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks (I save the whites in a freezer bag for later use in healthy scrambled eggs or unhealthy meringue)
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornflour dissolved in 1/4 cup water
1 tsp grated lemon zest

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter and lemon juice until the butter melts and the mixture is hot. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, eggs and sugar to blend them and then whisk in the dissolved cornflour. Slowly pour in the hot butter and lemon juice, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until it just boils and thickens, about 6 minutes. When thickened, the sauce will leave a path on the back of the spoon when you draw a finger across it. (The sauce will thicken further as it cools). Strain through a sieve to remove any lumps and then add the lemon zest. Transfer to a bowl. To store cover with clingfilm, pressing the film against the sauce so it doesn't develop a skin. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or stored in the freezer in an appropriate container and kept for up to 3 months.

Smooth the buttercream with a spreading/palette knife onto the cupcakes. Using a piping bag with a small nozzle, pipe the lemon sauce in a swirl onto the icing and top with a sugarflower/decoration of your choice. Yummy!

The book is wonderful and I can't wait to bake every recipe in it. Unfortunately I'm on a bit of a lull from baking as I'm trying to lose weight. But Easter only comes once a year and what better way to celebrate resurrection than with cake, I ask you?

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