Second recipe of my new column and I already feel like I am about to lead you down a garden path. I know I said that my recipes would be simple, that you would breeze through them, that they were perfect for busy week nights… we will get to those! But before then I simply cannot go past this gem of a cupcake. Since moving in with my partner I have become a lover of lemon. The flavour that once had my nose scrunched up and tastes buds on edge suddenly has me wanting more more more! Try as he did to enlist me into making a lemon meringue tart, having never cooked with this flavour before I wanted to start out small and aim to impress him a little bit at a time which brings us to this fluffy vanilla cake filled with lemon curd topped with light buttercream and a cute meringue dollop!
This cupcake is perfect for lazy Sunday afternoons in the sun, paired with ice tea and girlfriends. It’s a summery treat that you will fall in love with – even if, like me, you are a lemon skeptic. But I do think it’s only fair that I warn you that making lemon curd is tricky business. You may want to invite a friend or your partner to help you out, a few minutes of whisking and my bingo wings were ready to retire!
I’m altering the recipe just a little as I felt that the lemon curd should have been even a touch more “lemony” but feel free to play around with it until it suits your own taste.
Tips: if you are making these for an occasion and don’t have time to prepare all in one afternoon, you can make and store your lemon curd and meringues for a few days before assembling your cakes. The buttercream will whip up in a matter minutes but can be stored overnight. It is always best to bake your cakes fresh on the day though and allow them time to cool completely! You don’t want to be filling warm cakes with lemon curd!
Makes 12 – Ingredients:
For the cake: 120g cake flour, 100g plain flour, 160g sugar, 15g baking powder, 112g butter (unsalted), 120g of lightly beaten eggs, ½ cup milk, ½ tsp vanilla extract and 1 tsp of salt
- Preheat your oven to 165 degrees (low fan). Sift all of the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and turn the mixer on low speed and do not increase.
- Add the butter pieces one at a time until fully incorporated. The mixture will look like fluffy yellow sand. Next, add 1/3 of the egg mixture at a time allowing it to become incorporated before adding the next. Add the vanilla extract to the milk and then slowly pour into the mixer again allowing it to become incorporated before adding anymore, this will avoid flooding your batter.
- Once all of the ingredients are mixed well, scrape down your bowl then return it to a medium speed for 30 seconds or until the batter is smooth.
- Fill your cupcake cases and bake for 15 – 20mins.
For the frosting: 125g butter, ¼ cup of milk, 3 ½ cups of soft icing sugar (sifted) , 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- On a medium to high speed, beat the butter until pale in colour and it becomes quite fluffy. Add 2 cups of the icing sugar and mix on a low speed until combined then increase to medium speed and add in the salt, vanilla and milk. Beat until well combined.
- Add in the remaining icing sugar until your desired level of sweetness is reached. Scrape down the bowl and continue mixing on a medium speed until light and fluffy.
For the lemon curd: ½ cup of caster sugar, 3 tbsp of fresh lemon juice, 1 whole egg, 4 egg yolks, 1 tbsp of butter cut into small pieces.
- In a heatproof bowl over simmering water combine the egg, yolks, sugar and lemon juice and whisk continuously until the mixture has thickened.
- Remove from the heat and add the butter a few pieces at a time constantly whisking after each addition until smooth.
- Strain the lemon curd through a sieve and cover with glad wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Meringue toppers: 3 egg whites, 1 ½ cups of caster sugar
Before you attempt the meringue toppers, if you haven’t made meringue before perhaps find a video tutorial to watch first as it can be hard to judge the consistency. You will also need a piping bag and nozzle which you can purchase at most supermarkets these days.
- Preheat your oven to 100 degrees and line a tray with baking paper.
- Using the whisk attachment on your mixer, beat the eggs whites until soft white peaks start to form. A good way to check is to lift the whisk out of the mixer, if a peak forms and bends slightly but holds its shape, you’re good to go! If not, keep whisking!
- Add the sugar and whisk on low for 2 minutes then increase to medium – high speed for a further 4 minutes or until the meringue is stiff and glossy.
- Using your piping bag, pipe small drops (2-3cm) onto the baking paper remembering to keep at least a 1cm gap between them. Bake for 1 ½ hours or up the meringue are easy to peel from the paper. Leave them to cool and they can be stored in an air tight container until ready to use.
Assembling your cupcakes:
- Using an apple corer, take out the centre of your cupcakes and using a teaspoon or piping bag fill the centre with lemon curd. If you want to avoid any leaking into to the buttercream frosting you can replace the cut out cake back to the centre. I used just the tops to cover over the holes.
- You can spread the frosting with a knife if you want luscious peaks on your cupcakes or you can pipe it for small dollops, whatever you wish but once the buttercream is added, top with your meringue dollop and you are done!