As fortune had it, I had a new cook book burning a hole in my bookshelf and have just been gifted a big box of free range eggs from a colleague in work so I knew it was time to road test Cupcake Jemma’s book, The Cake Book. Jamie Oliver has recently lent his name to several small books by little known cooks and bakers who he works with on his YouTube channel FoodTube. I highly recommend her own website which is generously stuffed with her recipes and many of her published recipes are there too in video format. It will be no surprise to learn I picked the baking book preferentially! The lemon mess cupcakes have been on my mind since I curled up on my snuggle seat with it not so long ago. The eggs were a surprise silly (but lovely) gift to “pay” me for all the baking I bring into work; it was classic JoJo ironic timing as I’d just ordered an online shop and had 12 fresh eggs on their way to me that evening with three still left in the cupboard! Of course they won’t be there too long in the kitchen of the Apple Chapel especially with needing to make meringues, lemon curd and a classic pound cake/Victoria sponge for this delightful little recipe. I suspect the colleague who gave me the eggs knew only too well it would be but a matter of time before her eggs were reincarnated and returned to her in the form of yet more cake….
It’s been a long time since I’ve found a cupcake book worthy of mention. The Primrose Bakery will always win for me as I chose their amaretto cupcakes for my 7 tiered wedding cake display not to mention the numerous freshly baked cuppies I have gobbled up in their Primrose Hill and Covent Garden bakeries both alone and in the company of some very special people. Worthy of note too is The Love Bakery book – very different recipes and techniques to those used by TPB girls but still very delicious and a close second. Cupcake Jemma’s recipes are very classic ones that are most often made with equal quanities of sugar, butter, flour and eggs then let down with a little milk or in this case lemon juice. These messy cupcakes are fantastically easy as you make them by the all in one method. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!
Once baked, the lemon zest and juice infused cakes are filled with lemon curd. I made my own one night, the meringues the next then the cupcakes the next day. If that is too much faff for you, buy a very good free range egg lemon curd from the supermarket and some meringues. The brilliant thing about making meringues yourself is how little effort it requires yourself. I whisked two large egg whites until soft peaks formed then reduced the speed on my stand mixer and slowly spooned in 120g caster sugar. Once all incorporated, turn the speed up to high and carry on whisking until very stiff, thick peaks form which will be glossy and almost iridescent. This can take a while – if you lift the whisk out and it flops over, you need to whisk a fair bit more. I piped out small meringues an inch or so across (more on those next post) and baked for 20 minutes on 150ºC on the lower oven shelf until dried out and lifting off the silicone sheet I bake on easily and cleanly. Turn off your oven and go to bed. Just leave a note on the oven door that you need to take them out before you preheat the oven for dinner that night forgetting they are there! I have like, *never* done that. Honest…
To make these very lemony cupcakes Eton Mess-esque, you whip up a simple lemon buttercream and mix in some crumbled meringue. As I had filled my piping bag with my lemon curd I thought it just made sense to use that to messily decorate with thin ribbons of vivid yellow. Having only just read this really interesting little blog post iambaker did for KitchenAid about the differences in buttercream texture depending on which machine you use to mix it, I chose my Magimix to whip it up and I have to agree with Amanda – it makes the creamiest, most luscious buttercream. I guess using a stand mixer means it is exposed to air so can crust and dry a little when piped but using a food processor keeps it enclosed by virtue of the lid so it remains the most creamy of all the methods she describes. Call me converted!
I know there are a huge cohort of lemon loving dessert eaters out there who will go gaga for these lemon overload cupcakes.
- Zest and juice of two unwaxed, preferably organic lemons
- 75g caster sugar
- 50g butter
- 3 small or 2 large eggs
- 250g very soft butter
- 250g caster sugar
- 250g self raising flour
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 4 large eggs
- Zest of 4 lemons
- 1½ tbsp lemon juice
- 250g very soft butter
- 500g icing sugar
- Upto 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 4 or 5 meringues about 3-4 inches across)
- Put the lemon juice, zest, sugar and butter in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water and melt.
- Add the eggs and whisk in to combine then swap to a spatula and stir continuously over the pan of water until the curd thickens – this happens quickly and you need to take it off the heat as soon as this happens to prevent over cooking.
- Pour into a large sterilised jar and allow to cool completely before storing in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 170ºC
- Line two muffin pans with cupcake liners or use stand alone baking cups (note the latter are a touch smaller than standard cupcake cases so you may get an extra cupcake out of this mix)
- Put the butter, sugar, flour, bicarb, lemon zest and eggs in a bowl and mix with a hand mixer until combined or use a stand mixer. It is important your butter is very soft indeed or you will over work the batter and get tough cupcakes. Not cool.
- Beat in the lemon juice and then divide between the cases – I fill mine half full as I live in fear of cupcakes with muffin tops! You will probably be ok filling to 2/3’s full but no more than that. Bake for around 18-20 minutes until risen and spring back fully to touch. Note the relatively high sugar content will mean these are quite golden brown cupcakes. Also if you can’t get both pans on the same, centre shelf of the oven to bake the lot at once do not panic – the second batch bakes identically even after sitting on the work top for the time it takes the first batch to bake.
- Cool on a baking rack then carefully poke a hole in the centre of the cupcake with a skewer or chopstick and wiggle it to widen a little. Don’t go more than half way down or curd will squirt out the bottom when you remove from the wrapper to eat!
- Fill a piping bag with the lemon curd and cut a 3mm opening in the end. Stick it into the hole you have created and squirt in curd until it just rises up around the bag and stop.
- Make the buttercream by beating the butter until soft then adding in the icing sugar and beating until light, soft and fluffy – by hand, electric hand whisk, food processor or stand mixer is all good, just go with what you have. Add in the lemon juice to let down the buttercream to a soft consistency but certainly not a runny one. Fold in enough crumbled meringue to give a rubbly texture but not so dry that it’s difficult to top the cupcakes.
- In old school fashion, use two tablespoons to dollop out mounds of frosting onto each cupcake and drizzle with more lemon curd. If you have any meringue left, crumble on top just because you can. Nothing succeeds like excess 😉