Yesterday was a terrible, awful, no good, really bad day.
Okay, maybe it wasn't that bad. But it was a bad cupcake day. You see, I had gotten it into my head to make a lemon cupcake with lemon curd on the inside and it had burrowed into my brain like a ceti eel (yep. I just did that). I was determined! I had a lot of egg yolks left over from the s'mores cupcakes and because my sister is the key lime pie jedi (still doing it), there was no way I was competing with her. Lemon curd is easy to make, if you have a candy thermometer and can pay attention for 10 minutes at a time, so I knocked that out and set about googling lemon cupcakes in the hopes of inspiration.
I found a good one (so I thought), had all the ingredients already (whee!) and commenced to baking. Usually I play with recipes according to what I think might work well, but this time I was following the recipe to the letter. The batter for the cupcakes was made ("No egg yolk? No buttermilk? This batter doesn't taste very good," I mused), baked ("hmm," thought I, "these seem a mite heavy."), the curd filling spooned in via the cone and hat-replacement system see here , and then the frosting was blended ("Wait, half shortening and half butter? That doesn't sound very good. There doesn't seem to be enough of it, either"), and I tried to frost the cupcakes but there really wasn't enough frosting to pipe it and when I tried to spread it the little cupcake hats kept slipping around and you know what I was starting to realize?
I hadn't made cupcakes. I had made rubber ball cupcake-looking objects! And you know what doesn't work about lemon filling done via the cone and hat-replacement method? Lemon curd is slippery! You know what happens when you (try to) bite into a rubber cupcake filled with lemon curd and topped by precariously placed slippery shortening frosting? The frosting slips off the side off of the little cupcake hat and the lemon curd shoots out onto the floor. Onto your toddler, no less.
You know what I did? I gritted my teeth, and I dumped the lot of them.
There was no point in saving them (they were gross! You know how you hear that even a bad pizza is pretty good? That happens to be true, but the same is NOT true for treacherous lemon cupcakes). And let me be clear - I am not blaming the recipe. It is highly likely that I messed up in the process. But where I really messed up is I didn't listen to the little voice inside (no, not my conscience) that looks at how a recipe is progressing and murmurs, "Are you certain that you think this is a good idea?" I thought I knew better than the little voice.
Anyhow, undaunted, I set out to find a new recipe. And this next one felt right. Egg yolk in the batter! Whipping the whites separately (this meant the cake would be light for sure)! Rational lemon curd delivery. And a frosting that - I am not exaggerating - seemed absolutely marvelous and a stroke of genius, on the author's part. I felt good about this one, not "good enough."
(Check it out here because I want to give credit where credit is due)
The recipe did not disappoint. Light, moist (almost cake-mix moist, and if you pretend you don't know what I mean by that I don't believe you) with a crunchy top. The lemon curd was just enough, and the frosting...oh my. I fully intend to use the folding-whipped-cream-into-flavored-cream-cheese method a LOT more (I had never heard of it before), perhaps with coffee? Chocolate? Strawberry?
The moral here is, listen to the little voice. Unless it's telling you to do something silly. That's another little voice entirely (nope, still not my conscience).
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 2 cup sugar
- 4 eggs (separated)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- zest of two lemons
Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, and mix well after each addition. Add in the flour and the milk mixtures, a third at a time, beginning and ending with the flour. Add in vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter. Spoon the batter into cupcake liners. Bake at 350 for about 18 - 20 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Cool thoroughly before filling and frosting.
Use half of lemon curd recipe to fill the cupcakes with a pastry bag, squeeze bottle or by cutting a small hole in the middle of the cupcake and filling with lemon curd.
|just a smidge of lemon curd!|
- 4 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 ounces lemon juice (from 3 lemons)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
Pour the curd through the strainer into the bowl. Discard any solids, stir in the lemon zest, and let come to room temperature before using or storing in the refrigerator. You can do this ahead of time (I did it two days before, which is why there are no pictures. I forgot), but let the curd come to room temperature before trying to fill the cupcakes.
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8-ounce pkg cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup whipping cream
Half of the above lemon curd recipe.
In a small bowl beat whipping cream until stiff. In another bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Add in lemon curd, and beat the mixture until smooth. Carefully fold in whipped cream until the frosting is smooth.
Frost the cupcakes as desired (I just used a disposable plastic bag), and store them in the refrigerator. Makes about 20 - 22 cupcakes.
|Victory is mine!|