One of the things I dislike doing is buying gifts for other people. This is partly because I don’t really like shopping (not even for myself) and partly because I never know what to get for others. So, when birthdays and Christmas comes around I often ask the gift receiver what they would like. You might think this isn’t very thoughtful of me, but it’s really a win-win for everyone involved. The gift receiver gets what they want and it saves me the headache of trying to figure it out. This year, when I asked my little sis what she wanted for her birthday, I was pleasantly surprised when she said all she wanted was cupcakes. Pleasantly surprised because I see it as a sign that she is growing up. That she is becoming more mature and would rather have something from the heart over store bought material goods. I see it as a sign that if she really wanted something she would work hard to earn money and get it herself. Or I could just be reading into it too much and she just really wanted cupcakes. Nevertheless, I was more than happy to oblige. I mean how can you go wrong with cupcakes? You really can’t. But I wanted to switch it up a little. Even though she asked for cupcakes, I thought they were a little over done (here, here, here, case in point). Instead, I wanted to make her whoopie pies. Now, who wouldn’t want some whoopie pies for their birthday? Just look at these beauties…
Sadly, my first attempt at making whoopie pies didn’t turn out as well. They were more like poopie pies (picture light brown pieces of dried up turd). Doesn’t sound very appealing does it? There certainly weren’t any cries of “whoopie” when they came out of the oven. 😦 I’m not sure what went wrong, but I knew it wasn’t right because the dough was really thick. I had gotten the recipe from a cookbook that was published in the UK and because of this the measurements were in grams. Since I don’t have a kitchen scale, I used an online calculator to convert the measurements to cups. I’m guessing something went wrong with the conversion…
Anyhoo, I never seem to learn. Last year, I tried making macarons for the first time for her birthday. That, too, failed although not as horribly as the poopie pies as they were still edible. I guess I should just stick to cupcakes from now on.
They are the perfect fallback. And that’s what I did after my failed attempt at whoopie pies. Back to the good ol’ cupcake.
But once again I couldn’t resist trying a new recipe and a new flavour. With spring among us and the flowers in bloom, I thought a light lemony flavoured cupcake would be perfectly suited for the season.
These lemon cupcakes were a bit on the dense side. Perhaps I over baked them as the batter was perfect.
I would’ve also preferred them to be more lemony.
As for the cream cheese frosting…well, I have no complaints.
Happy turning one year older, little sis!
Cupcakes (adapted from my baking addiction)
- 2 1/4 cups cake flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup buttermilk (I made this by adding 1 tbsp vinegar to 1 cup and topping with milk)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- lemon zest from two lemons (I only used one)
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp pure lemon extract (I used 3/4 tsp)
- Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cupcake tins by using liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
- Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.
- Beat in the extracts, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.
- Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
- Give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Place the batter into the cupcake tins.
- Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Cool on wire rack.
Cream cheese frosting
- 4 ounce cream cheese, softened
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 2 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract (I used 1 tsp)
- juice of one lemon (I used 20 ml)
- 1/4 tsp lemon extract
- Using a mixer, blend the butter and cream cheese together until well combined.
- Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar until fully incorporated.
- Finally mix in extracts and lemon juice.
Glazed lemon peel (OPTIONAL) (from styleathome.com)
- 1 large lemon, washed
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- Using a vegetable peeler and a slight sawing motion, remove the lemon rind from the lemon in large strips. Trim off any white pith that remains on the rind and cut the rind into matchstick- size strips.
- Put the strips in a small saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Strain, then rinse the lemon strips with cold water.
- Heat the water, sugar, and vinegar in the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Add the lemon strips. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the strips from the syrup to a small bowl. Cool thoroughly.
- Arrange several pieces of the glazed peel over the top of each cupcake. The peel can be left in its cooking syrup and stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Notes and Tips:
I found the frosting to be a bit liquidity so I put it in the fridge for a bit before piping onto the cupcakes. After trying the finished product, the hubs suggested adding the glazed lemon peel to the batter before baking. I think this would’ve given it that extra lemon flavour that was needed.