Although there are still (officially) a couple of weeks until spring, the first appearance of daffodils in my garden have already cheered me up! It’s been a busy couple of weeks (see below) and I realise I have been slack in posting, but I promise lots of lovely posts in the coming weeks. Today I have been baking cupcakes for my friend Beejal’s birthday and I wanted to share an easy recipe for lovely moist lemon cupcakes with a lemon curd frosting.
Spring offers so much inspiration and there is so much to post about…Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day, Mother’s Day, lots of ideas for Easter, the arrival of some wonderful seasonal food. I have also been invited to attend a cookery demonstration at The Caldesi Cookery School in London and no doubt will come back with some recipes to share and will soon be hosting my first ‘give away’ competition courtesy of Hotel Chocolat so there is lots to come.
Last weekend I had one of the most amazing adventures of my life as I spent the day in the kitchen of The Waterside Inn, a three Michelin starred French restaurant in the tiny village of Bray overlooking the River Thames. It was truly amazing to see how the famous “Roux” kitchen works right from the inside. It was a slick operation, let me tell you, nobody wants to drop the ball in that kitchen! I was extremely well looked after and it’s an experience that will stay with me forever…though I won’t be changing my career to become a chef anytime soon!
I also popped along to The London Cocktail Club to take a masterclass, also for Beejal’s birthday. A few Mojitos and Passion Fruit Martinis down the line and we were mixing like pros!
Back to cupcakes, since I am forever on the hunt for tasty cupcake recipes to try, the gorgeous Vanessa Kimbell sent me a sneaky-preview of a recipe (Vanilla, Elderflower and Rhubarb Cupcakes) from her soon-to-be-published cookery book Prepped! Though as I’m still perfecting my rhubarb jam and elderflower syrup I will have to share these with you at a later date.
For now, here are my Lemony Spring Cupcakes with a Lemon Curd frosting. My top baking tip for the perfect cupcake is to buy a packet of disposable piping bags (Lakeland sell them). You fill your piping bag with your batter (I use a pint glass to hold the piping bag to free up two hands) then snip off the bottom and pipe the batter into the cases until they are two-thirds full. It is much easier than using a spoon and I find gives a more even finish. You could wash the bags or use re-usable ones but the Lakeland bags are great value. I also use a muffin tray (Wilton) which is deeper and holds the cupcake case better as the cakes cook. Take special care when separating cupcake cases as even the slightest dint or crimple will make a difference to the finished product!
- 375 g self-raising flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 120ml milk
- 120ml vegetable oil (rapeseed is best)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence or extract
- 115g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 225g caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
- Lemon Curd Buttercream
- 110g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 500g icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon essence
- 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon curd
- 2 tablespoons of milk
- Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and line a 12-hole and a 6 hole muffin tin with cupcake liners.
- Sieve the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl and leave to one side.
- Measure out the milk, oil and vanilla in a jug and also leave to one side.
- Whisk the butter and sugar in a mixer until very pale and creamy.
- Add the eggs one at a time and mix.
- Add the flour mix and milk/oil mix alternately to the mixer until it is combined – be careful not to over mix.
- Add the grated lemon zest and mix once more.
- Pipe the mixture into the prepared tin with cases or spoon in until they are two-thirds full.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
- For the Lemon Curd Buttercream
- Beat the butter, lemon essence and zest for about three minutes until the butter is pale.
- Add half the icing sugar and beat again until smooth.
- Add the remaining icing sugar and beat again.
- Add two to three tablespoons of milk to loosen the mixture a little if it is too thick.
- Pipe your buttercream onto your cooled cakes or spread on with a spatula. Decorate with spring flowers and sprinkles or smarties…!