fruit

Lemon Burst Fairycakes

I want to sing a song about these cupcakes. They’re the most scrumptious combination I’ve tried to date: delicious little almond cakes, filled with creamy lemon and raspberry tartness and frosted with light-as-a-feather lemon buttercream. They tasted too BRIGHT to be called plain old cupcakes. I borrowed a bit from the British and named them fairycakes instead: Lemon Burst Fairycakes. I think you’re really going to love these.

When you think of curd, perhaps you think of the nursery rhyme where an unfortunate child is accosted by an alarming arachnid; that is:

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

The little rhyme refers to a cottage cheese like substance, but there are much more pleasant curds to be had. Fruit curds, to be exact, and lemon curd, to be even more exact. Lemon Burst Fairycakes are named such because they’re bursting with creamy lemon curd.


Lemon curd filling before the raspberry “surprise.”

From what I’ve read about making lemon curd, some folks have trouble with the mixture curdling, but thankfully, I stumbled on a fantastic recipe that seems relatively fool-proof. Even if you’re not planning on making the full cupcakes, do try the lemon curd. It’s delicious on toast, on cookies, or on a spoon straight from the freezer, where it’ll keep for 2 months! This homemade lemon curd is much better than the store bought kinds I’ve tried, by the way. Since it’s so easy, it’s worth making your own.

A word about the butterfly decorations on these fairycakes: they’re, uh, not perfect. This was my first attempt at royal icing decorations, and I’ve decided it’s not something you should do on a whim! I think I’ll be better prepared next time. They’re cute, but definitely . . . homemade. We’ll say they have “character.” Wait until you see the mess involved in creating them (in the process photos below)! I do hope you’ll try some royal icing decoration, but maybe with a little more forethought than I gave. There are some tutorials online for creating lovely butterflies, as I discovered after I’d already piped mine!

If you’re in a summery mood and would like some lovely lemon, whip up a batch of these fairycakes and enjoy! The recipe looks long because of the multiple parts (butterfly decorations, lemon curd filling, cupcakes, and frosting), but remember that you can leave the decorations out and still have a fantastic fairycake. I love to read about your results (and see photos!), so feel free to comment below.

Lemon Burst Fairycakes


Recipe By: Compiled and adapted by me, from:

Cupcake Ideas Now! (cupcakes, slightly adapted)
Nigella Lawson (royal icing for butterfly)
-Mom (buttercream, slightly adapted)
Fine Cooking (lemon curd)

Yields: 24-30 cupcakes

Royal Icing Butterfly Ingredients:
2 large egg whites (or substitute powdered egg whites)
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
food coloring in desired colors

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 cup butter flavored shortening (at room temperature)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond flavoring
1 teaspoon butter flavoring
2 tablespoons lemon juice (can use more, to taste)
grated lemon zest
30 raspberries for filling

Lemon Curd Ingredients:
3 oz. (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:
1 cup crisco (white) shortening
1 cup butter, softened
8 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (can use clear if you want the frosting to be snow white)
1 teaspoon imitation almond flavoring
1 teaspoon imitation butter flavoring
2 tablespoon lemon juice
lemon zest, if desired
4-6 tablespoons sweet milk for thinning
royal icing butterflies for decoration

Directions:

Royal Icing Butterflies: Make your royal icing butterflies the night before you frost your cupcakes. Combine the egg whites and confectioners’ sugar in a medium-size mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer on medium speed until opaque and shiny, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the lemon juice, this will thin out the icing. Beat for another couple of minutes until you reach the right consistency. Separate frosting into separate bowls for each color you want and add food coloring; mix. Put frosting in pastry bag and pipe out individual butterfly wings. Once fully dry, create a “valley” by creasing wax paper or foil (see picture below) to lay each wing in. Pipe body in the middle. Let dry overnight.

Lemon Curd: Make lemon curd in advance as well so it has time to chill and thicken. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, about 2 min. Slowly add the eggs and yolks. Beat for 1 min. Mix in the lemon juice. The mixture will look curdled, but it will smooth out as it cooks. In a medium, heavy-based saucepan, cook the mixture over low heat until it looks smooth. (The curdled appearance disappears as the butter in the mixture melts.) Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 15 min. It should leave a path on the back of a spoon and will read 170°F on a thermometer. Don’t let the mixture boil. Remove the curd from the heat; stir in the lemon zest. Transfer the curd to a bowl. Press plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming and chill the curd in the refrigerator. The curd will thicken further as it cools. Covered tightly, it will keep in the refrigerator for a week and in the freezer for 2 months.

Cupcakes: While butterflies are resting and curd is thickening, make cupcakes. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Put shortening in a mixing bowl. Sift dry ingredients together in separate bowl. With a mixer, mix the dry ingredients in slowly with the shortening. Add 1 cup milk and the eggs to the dry ingredients and beat until flour is fully moistened. Add the remaining milk and the vanilla, almond, and butter flavoring. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest and beat for about another minute. Place paper liners in muffin pan and fill halfway full with the batter. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.

When cupcakes are cool, cut a small hole in the center of each. Pipe or spoon in chilled lemon curd and top with one plump raspberry.

Lemon Buttercream frosting: Finally, make the buttercream frosting. Cream all ingredients together. Can add more sweet milk if needed. Frost completely cool cupcakes, using a pastry bag if available. I used star tip 1M. Use butterflies (dried overnight) to decorate!

Process Photos:


Royal icing butterfly wings piped out.



The crazy setup I used to create a “trench” for my butterfly wings. Butterfly
wings sit in the wax paper trench so that when their bodies are piped out, they
look like they’re in flight. Notice the use of Coke Zero to hold the wax
paper in place. That delicious beverage is so useful.



Cupcakes ready for baking.



Lemon curd cooking.



Finished lemon curd!


Fresh from the oven.



Filled with lemon curd and raspberries.



All frosted and decorated!



Enjoy!

Peach Lemon Cupcakes

A friend tells me that Coconut & Lime’s Lemon Cupcakes with Fresh Strawberry Centers are incredible.  I can’t wait to try them!   In fact, I decided to experiment with the recipe this weekend when I had leftover peaches from my Peach Cobbler Cupcakes.  I wanted a lighter, summery peach cupcake.  I used Coconut & Lime’s recipe with some baking powder and soda added, and peaches in the place of strawberries.  While my mom felt peaches and lemon were an odd combination, I think they turned out rather nice.  The texture is divine, and the flavor is mostly lemon with a peach tang (and there’s that nice, juicy splush when you bite into a chunk!) I think next time I’ll add more peach to help it stand up to the lemon.

Peach Lemon Cupcakes


Recipe By:

Coconut & Lime (cupcakes, tweaked)
Paula Deen (frosting, tweaked)

Yields: 12 cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients:
7 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 large peach, chopped

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1-2 drops yellow food coloring (if desired)
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350. Line 12 wells in a cupcake pan. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat to combine. Mix in the buttermilk, vanilla, and lemon juice. The mixture may look a little curdled but that’s okay.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet. Beat the batter an additional 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Pour an even amount into each cupcake well, filling about 3/4 of the way. Drop 3-5 chunks of peach into each well, depending on their size and your personal taste. Bake 15-20 minutes. Cool in pan briefly, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Ice with lemon cream cheese frosting.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting: In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, lemon juice, and food coloring together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy. Frost the cupcakes with a butter knife or pipe it on with a big star tip (I used star tip 1M.)


Ready for the oven! Just made a half batch of these, and one without peach for Mike’s sister!


Light, springy, fresh!

Peach Cobbler Cupcakes

Mike loves peach cobbler, and I’ve been trying to think of a peachy cupcake, but the two ideas didn’t meet until recently. A cobbler and a cupcake? One a sultry, spicy, fruity dessert and the other a cute, frosted mini-cake? The meeting of the desserts — living quite independently until now, thank you very much! — reminds me of one of my favorite poems, Thomas Hardy’s “The Convergence of the Twain.”

Alien they seemed to be:
No mortal eye could see
The intimate welding of their later history.

Or sign that they were bent
By paths coincident
On being anon twin halves of one August event…

Or in this case, a June event!  And a much happier one than that of the Titanic meeting an iceberg (read the rest of Hardy’s poem for that more morbid meeting).

It struck me while driving one day that a peach cobbler cupcake would be fun to construct — the spices of a cobbler, chunks of fresh peach, the crunch of some streusel, and a little cream cheese frosting to mimic a rich scoop of ice cream.  I “cobbled” this recipe together after looking through recipes for brown sugar cupcakes, cobblers, and fruit-filled cupcakes. The result is delicious. If you love carrot cake, you’ll love these little peach spice cakes. One of my lovely Charlotte taste testers (my boyfriend’s mom) said that this is her favorite cupcake yet!

You may be looking at the photos and wondering why the cupcakes are a little flat up top. Initially, I only used baking soda to react with the acidity of the buttermilk, and no baking powder. Baking soda reacts immediately and therefore must be baked immediately to have an effect on the rise of the cupcake.  With all the streusel and peach additions to these cakes, though, it’s hard to get them in the oven fast. I tweaked the recipe a bit, so the version below should produce cupcakes that are a little lighter and prettier.

Peach Cobbler Cupcakes


Recipe By:  Me, “cobbled” together from this and this. Frosting by Paula Deen, with tweaking.
Yields: 12 cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 stick butter
3/8 cup light brown sugar
3/8 cup white sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Splash of peach syrup from canned peaches (if you used canned)
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Fresh or canned peaches, chopped

Streusel Ingredients:
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter (4 tablespoons)

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Splash of peach syrup from canned peaches (if you used canned)
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 wells in a cupcake pan. In a small bowl, make streusel. Add all the ingredients and cut the mixture into crumbles with two knives until it’s about the consistency of coarse cornmeal. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Add the eggs one at a time and mix. Mix in the buttermilk, vanilla, and a little peach syrup.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add a little of the flour mixture at a time to the wet ingredients, mixing well after each addition. Beat the batter well until air is incorporated, about 2 more minutes.

Pour just enough batter into each of 12 cupcake wells to cover the bottom. Spoon a thin layer of streusel over this batter, and drop a 3-5 pieces of chopped peach on top (depending on the size of the pieces and your personal taste). Spoon another layer of batter over each well until each is about 3/4 full.   If you love a lot of peach in your “cobbler,” you can add a few more hunks on top.  Spoon a sprinkle of streusel over the top of the batter in each well. Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan for a couple of minutes, and then on a cooling rack. Once cupcakes are completely cool, frost them.


Almost ready for the oven!


Mmm, these make the kitchen smell amazing.

Cream Cheese Frosting: In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter vanilla, and splash of peach syrup (this might also be nice with a spoonful of peach jam or preserves) together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy. Frost the cupcakes with a butter knife or pipe it on with a big star tip (I used star tip 1M.) I only put a puff of frosting in the middle so as not to overwhelm the peach cobbler flavor, or overdo the sweetness!


All frosted!

NOTE: I tried two methods for inserting the peach into the cupcake. The first and most successful is described above — chunks of peaches in a middle layer of the cupcake. The second, pushing a larger chunk of peach into the middle of the cupcake, was good but not great. I liked the fact that having many chunks of peaches ensured you’d get more peach per bite.

If you don’t use canned peaches, feel free to leave out the peach syrup in the cupcake batter and frosting and add more peach chunks.

Don’t overfill your cupcake wells, by the way! I always overfill mine and the cupcake “outgrows” its well as it bakes. This leads to the edges of the cupcake top being overdone.

Enjoy!

Strawberry Jam Cupcakes

Jam — even the word is delicious.  It reminds me of comfort, home, thick slices of bread, thick slices of butter!  So I was very grateful when the mother of one of my students gave me a thoughtful and personal gift at the end of this school year: homemade strawberry freezer jam.  As soon as I saw the jar, I knew that jam was destined to be in the middle of some big, fluffy strawberry cupcakes.  My little school just put on a fantastic performance of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and after trying these cupcakes, I feel quite sorry for the citizens of that crazy world:

“It’s very good jam,” said the Queen.
“Well, I don’t want any to-day, at any rate.”
“You couldn’t have it if you did want it,” the Queen said. “The rule is jam tomorrow and jam yesterday but never jam to-day.”
“It must come sometimes to “jam to-day,””Alice objected.
“No it can’t,” said the Queen. “It’s jam every other day; to-day isn’t any other day, you know.”
“I don’t understand you,” said Alice. “It’s dreadfully confusing.”

No need to worry, because it must be an “every other” day here!

Strawberry Jam Cupcakes

I made these Strawberry Jam Cupcakes at the same time as the Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Cupcakes below, using the same batter with a few minor changes.  The note at the end of this recipe will explain how to do that if you’d like to.  Because of my aforementioned love of cream cheese, I decided to frost these with a smooth and creamy cream cheese frosting instead of buttercream. It was a great combination!

Strawberry Jam Cupcakes


Recipe By: Compiled and adapted by me, from:

Gloria Bradley (cupcakes, adapted)
Paula Deen (cream cheese frosting)

Yields: 12-15 cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients:
1.5 cups (about 6 3/4 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed
Fresh strawberry jam for filling

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

Strawberry Jam Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°. Place 12 decorative paper muffin cup liners into muffin cups. To prepare cupcakes, lightly spoon 1.5 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Measure 1 tablespoon flour; level with a knife. Sift together 1.5 cups flour plus 1 tablespoon flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Combine melted butter and egg in another large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add buttermilk, milk, and vanilla to butter mixture; stir with a whisk. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Toss chopped strawberries with remaining 1 tablespoon flour. Fold berries into batter. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of the cupcake part comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. When cool, core a hole out of the middle of each cupcake. Spoon in fresh strawberry jam.

Strawberry Jam Cupcakes
That one lonely little cupcake on the bottom right got a dollop of cream cheese as an experiment — that’s why he’s jamless!

Cream Cheese Frosting: In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy. Frost completely cool cupcakes, using a pastry bag if available. I used star tip 1M.

NOTE: Use fresh, homemade strawberry jam for filling if possible. See note at the bottom of Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Cupcakes recipe for instructions on how to make these two batches of lovely cupcakes together.

Mmmm, enjoy!
Strawberry Jam Cupcakes

Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Cupcakes

Cream cheese can make anything amazing, in my opinion.  Bagels, frosting, a root canal… I’m betting that cream cheese could even fix the economy.  So when Mike and I were at the grocery store awhile back and saw blueberry cream cheese muffins, we had to try them.  They were good, but not as delicious as they should’ve been — not homemade delicious, and not cupcake delicious.  I thought I’d try my hand at my own version — blueberry cream cheese cupcakes, with some lemon added in for good measure.

These cupcakes are fresh, creamy, and sweet.  They are especially delightful straight from the icebox — that’s right, the icebox, because their cool and refreshing taste reminds me of the William Carlos Williams poem:

This Is Just To Say
by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums

that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Cupcakes


Recipe By: Compiled and adapted by me, from:

Gloria Bradley (cupcakes, adapted)
Joy of Baking (cheesecake filling)
-Mom (buttercream, slightly adapted)

Yields: 12-15 cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients:
1.5 cups (about 6 3/4 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed

Cheesecake Filling Ingredients:
8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Lemon Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:
1/2 cup crisco (white) shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (can use clear if you want the frosting to be snow white)
1/2 teaspoon imitation almond flavoring
1/2 teaspoon imitation butter flavoring
1 tablespoon lemon juice
lemon zest, if desired
2-4 tablespoons sweet milk for thinning
4-5 drops yellow food coloring

Directions:

Cream Cheese Filling: In your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla extract and beat until creamy and smooth. Set aside while you make the cupcake batter.

Blueberry Lemon Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°. Place 12 decorative paper muffin cup liners into muffin cups. To prepare cupcakes, lightly spoon 1.5 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Measure 1 tablespoon flour; level with a knife. Sift together 1.5 cups flour plus 1 tablespoon flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Combine melted butter and egg in another large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add buttermilk, milk, vanilla, and lemon juice to butter mixture; stir with a whisk. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Toss blueberries with remaining 1 tablespoon flour. Fold blueberries into batter. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Spoon a couple tablespoons of the cream cheese filling in the center of each cupcake. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of the cupcake part comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Fresh out of the Oven!
Fresh out of the oven!

Lemon Buttercream frosting: Finally, make the buttercream frosting. Cream all ingredients except food coloring together. Can add more sweet milk if needed. Add food coloring and mix. Frost completely cool cupcakes, using a pastry bag if available. I used star tip 1M.

Frosted top!
All frosted!

NOTE: I wanted to make both these and the strawberry cupcakes in the above post together out of the same basic recipe. If you’d like to do this, double the recipe shown here. Make the batter as described, except omit the lemon juice. Before folding in the berries, separate the batter into two bowls. Add the lemon juice and floured blueberries to one bowl, and fold floured strawberries into the other. Bake as described. I didn’t use the cream cheese filling with the strawberry cupcakes because I wanted to fill them with jam, but you could if you wanted.

These cupcakes were so yummy — and as I mentioned above, even better after being refrigerated overnight in an airtight container. They are a little sweet in places — you might want to cut down the sugar in the cupcakes a bit if you’re not big on lots of sweetness. If you wanted the cheesecake filling to be a more pronounced part of the cupcake, you could use the filling and top with some streusel instead of frosting. Another nice thing to try would be simply piping sweetened cream cheese into the middle of the cupcakes post-baking.

Enjoy! Hope these cupcakes inspire poetry in you!

1 30 31 32