Friday, November 30, 2012

lemon spice cupcakes

I really wasn't kidding when I said I do more baking (and log more kitchen time in general) in the winter than the summer. On a recent mid-week day off I used the excuse of being home alone and my mother in law's birthday to kill a couple birds with one stone. Given that there was a birthday, clearly there needed to be cake. I'd also been promising Bunny a lemon cake for quite some time and he's been getting a little cranky about it. (Man likes his cake, what can I say?)

So there would be cake, and it would be made with lemons. Except my mom doesn't have a cake pan and all my bakeware's buried so cake wasn't going to work, but the quick swap of muffin tins made that ok. I didn't want to make just any lemon cake, I needed to add a little something extra to it. If I'd have had fresh mint (or even peppermint extract) I likely would have turned this in to a lemon and mint cake, but being restricted by ingredients that was off the table. What were easily at hand were some beautiful spices, and somehow cloves and nutmeg seemed perfect.

These cupcakes are made, once again, based off the good old Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook's recipe pages. In fact, I took the same recipe that gave me these beauties and just ever so slightly modified things. In all honesty, it's just a small addition to the ingredient list and a slight switch in mixing and baking instructions. But seriously, these are amazing. Your family will thank you.

Lemon Spice Cupcakes

Ingredients
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  •  3/4 cups milk
  • 3/4 cups margarine
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • zest & juice of one large lemon
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*F. Line or grease the muffin tin. This recipe yields 18 cupcakes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together margarine and sugar until just barely creamed.
  3. Add eggs, milk, vanilla, lemon juice and zest and mix until evenly combined.
  4. Add the baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cloves and half of the flour. Mix on low until most of the flour is incorporated. Add the rest of the flour and mix until the batter is of an even consistency, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
  5. Fill the cupcake containers about 3/4 of the way full. For me this worked out to be just under 1/4 cup of batter in each.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  7. Cool in the tray for 10 minutes then transfer to a rack to continue cooling.
  8. Let cool completely before frosting.
Lemon Buttercream

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3-5 cups icing sugar
  • zest and juice of 2 large lemons
Directions
  1. In large bowl, mix butter with lemon zest and juice until everything is smooth.
  2. Add 2 cups of icing sugar to the bowl, turn mixer on to medium and blend until sugar is all absorbed into the butter.
  3. Continue to add sugar, half a cup to a cup at a time. Mix until each batch is completely absorbed, and taste before adding more.
  4. When you find your buttercream comes to a flavour/texture combination you like you are good. If you like less sweet, this will likely look like about 3 cups icing sugar, if you like more sweet you're probably more in the 5 cups or so range.

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