It’s been a while since I baked, and The Husband’s office was having a potluck, which is always a great excuse for me to get the Kitchen Aid out. The Husband requested my pudding-filled lemon cupcakes, and I decided to tweak it a little for the barbeque. Mainly because the ones he likes are the vegan ones, and for once I needed to make a huge batch, so off to Martha Stewart‘s cupcake cookbook I went. She doesn’t have a recipe that makes less than two dozen. I guess her usual market is not a married couple without children, and there’s only so many cupcakes that The Husband can eat!
The buttermilk cupcakes made 36, exactly the number I needed for the party. I mixed a little lemon in here and there and voilà! Delectable lemon cupcakes.
Now that I can’t have any wheat, grains, eggs or dairy, I’m happy to bake for others without having to tweak the recipe at all. And they seemed to go down well at the party, especially when I showed people they could drop one in the plastic cocktail cups to take home with them. Cupcakes to go! The perfect take away for a summer evening.
I do have this in vegan form, so please let me know in the comments if you’d like me to add it!
Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes
3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
2 1/4 sticks (1 cup + 2 Tbs) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups fine (baking) sugar
5 large whole eggs plus three egg yolks at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Zest of 4 lemons
Juice of 2 lemons
Preheat oven to 350° F and line three trays of cupcake tins with liners. Sift together all the dry ingredients except sugar.
With your trusty Kitchen Aid or standing mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium and add whole eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides as needed. Add yolks and beat until thoroughly combined.
Reduce speed to low and add a third of the flour, half of the buttermilk, another third of the flour, the last of the buttermilk, then the remaining flour, beating until combined after each addition. Add vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice, and mix.
Use an ice cream scoop to divide the batter evenly between all 36 cups. Bake, rotating the tins halfway through, about 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in tins for 10 minutes, then remove cupcakes and cool completely on wire racks. If made the day before, store in an airtight container.
2 whole eggs
8 egg yolks
1 cup fine (baking) sugar
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (no substitutes!)
2 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
++You can substitute the lemon juice for lime, orange or any other citrus juice if you want lime, orange or other curd!
Whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar and lemon juice in a metal bowl and set over a pan of simmering water. Or, if you’re a fancypants, you can use your double boiler. Whisk constantly as it cooks, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. This doesn’t take long, about five minutes. If you’re using this as lemon curd for scones and whatnot, strain through a sieve into another bowl. If you’re just using it for this recipe, you don’t need to strain it, just cover it with parchment paper or plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for a few hours to cool completely before using.
Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
7 large egg whites
1.5 cup plus 3 Tbs sugar (see note above)
1.5 lb (6 sticks) unsalted butter (the best you can buy!)
2 tsp. vanilla extract (again, the best. Not that artificial stuff.)
Zest of 4 lemons
Juice of 2 lemons
2 Tbs lemon extract
For this frosting, you really need a Kitchen Aid-style mixer with a metal bowl. Put the sugar and the egg whites into the metal mixing bowl and put it over a pan of simmering water. Whisk it together constantly while it’s over the heat. After about 2 minutes, pull up some of the mixture and rub it between your fingers. If it’s still grainy, keep going. Your aim is to melt the sugar into the egg whites; this is why you want the superfine sugar.
Once that’s done, put the bowl onto the mixer with the balloon whisk attachment and mix it on medium-high speed until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. Continue mixing until it’s super glossy and smooth, about 5 minutes. (NOTE: if you used regular sugar and the bowl is still quite warm, you need to do this for 10 minutes.)
Turn it down to medium low and start adding the butter, one tablespoon at a time. This is boring. And a little off-putting, really, when you see how much butter is going in. But don’t rush it, make sure that every tablespoon gets incorporated before throwing the next in. Once you’ve put it all in, it might look like it’s curdled, but don’t despair. It does this sometimes, and you just need to set it to medium-high speed and keep going until it sorts itself out. It will probably give you a heart attack: It does to me, every time!
If it doesn’t, bravo! Now add the vanilla and the lemon extract, juice and zest and mix thoroughly. Use immediately if possible, because when this stuff refrigerates, those eggs make it rock hard. You’ll need to defrost it for at least an hour for it to get to room temperature and useable again.
I don’t have an apple corer, but I wish I did for this recipe. Instead of coring out a little hole in the center of the cupcakes, I stuck each one with the thick end of a chopstick. I used a pastry bag with a medium tip to squirt some lemon curd in each cupcake, letting it spill out over the top in a little pool. I then used a wide tip to pipe the buttercream on top. Since I had tons of lemon curd left over, I added a little bit more on top of each cupcake.
Strangely, The Husband still loves the vegan cupcakes the best. I’m not sure how, but vegan cupcakes turn out more moist and gorgeous than other ones. Who knew? It makes me happy, either way.