Lemon Curd Cupcakes
Friday was Brandon’s birthday (happy birthday Brandon!) and I hadn’t originally planned on baking anything (insert gasp here). The last few times I’ve baked a cake, no matter how tasty, we always end up with tons of leftovers sitting sadly on the counter, growing increasingly stale and crumbly. I always end up being the one chipping away guiltily at the remains, both feeling badly for wasting food and badly that my hard work might end up in the trash.
Doubling this reality with family needs – his parents were coming to dinner, but his sister, fiancee, and their tiny baby were coming for drinks – I realized that a cupcake would be the perfect solution: it would allow us to eat cake; it gave us a medium to put a candle into, for the full birthday effect; and we could sing and and celebrate during the happy hour we hosted in our home, and pack up some cupcakes for those unable to go out to dinner.
I’m loving filled cupcakes – a surprise inside never gets old (“just like Freshen-Up gum!” was Brandon’s comment – speaking of things that are old!). So, we ended up going with a vanilla cupcake, filled with Lemon Curd, and frosted with a lemony cream cheese buttercream frosting. The citrus, sweet and tart somehow made the cupcake taste light, fluffy and fulfilling all at once.
Even though there are a few steps in this recipe, it’s actually really easy. I LOVE the cupcake recipe because it’s not at all fussy – you just dump all the ingredients into your mixer at once, and beat away. Also, it only makes a dozen cupcakes (which is what mine made exactly), meaning that we had a few leftover, but not a ton.
Also, the curd is brilliant – who knew you could make a microwave curd?! I did feel concerned about knowing when it would be fully cooked – I wasn’t sure what it meant that the curd would “mound a bit as you stir” and, honestly, I’m still not entirely positive – but it got thicker after about 8 minutes (but still much thinner than traditional curd), and I was getting few chunks of what appeared to be cooked egg (not what I was after), so I decided to let go of my curd-related anxieties and go ahead and refrigerate the stuff. Turns out an overnight in the fridge was perfect – the curd thickened and was great for filling the cupcakes.
And one final note (ie. slightly embarrassing disclosure): rather than carve out a hole in the cupcake myself (which I’ve done many times with perfectly fine results), I decided to use $3.95 of my hard-earned cash to put towards a cupcake corer. I can say with full confidence that you can keep your $3.95; the tool works just fine, but is entirely and completely unnecessary. I don’t believe it saved me anytime and it’s not like using a knife is a laborious process.
Oh, and my final, final note: after I pulled out the core and filled the cupcake, I did put the cap back on (slicing off a bit of the extra cake), just to contain any runaway curd.
recipe from King Arthur Flour
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk
1) Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a 12-cup cupcake or muffin pan with paper liners; spritz the liners lightly with cooking spray.
2) To make the cupcakes: Place the following in the bowl of your mixer: the cake flour blend, baking powder, salt, baking soda, sugar, butter, egg, vanilla and Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor. Add 1/3 cup of the buttermilk.
3) Blend the mixture on medium speed for 2 minutes. The mixture will be thick at first, but will smooth out as you mix.
4) Add the remaining 1/3 cup buttermilk and mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and mix briefly, if necessary.
5) Fill each well of the pan 2/3 full, and bake the cupcakes for 15 to 18 minutes, until they’re light golden brown on the edges. Remove them from the oven, and immediately transfer them from the pan to a rack. Cool completely.
6) Prepare the lemon curd according to the recipe, and set it aside to cool and thicken as the cupcakes cool (overnight is best – it allows the curd to thicken)
7) Core each cooled cupcake with a cupcake corer (or an apple corer), leaving a small well in the center of the cake. Fill to the brim with cooled lemon filling. Fill all cupcakes, then prepare the frosting.
Yield: 12 cupcakes.
Very Basic Lemon Buttercream
adapted slightly from from the kitchn
Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes generously
2 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
Pinch of salt
4 to 5 cups powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
rind of one lemon, zested, then finely chop the zest.
Beat the cream cheese and butter together in the bowl of a stand mixer until lightened and fluffy. Add the salt, then 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions. Add the milk, adjusting consistency if necessary. Beat in the extracts and zest and continue beating at high speed for 3 to 5 minutes or until whipped and creamy.
easy microwave lemon curd
recipe from King Arthur Flour
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, melted
2 large eggs
1) Combine all of the ingredients in a large microwave-safe bowl. To avoid bubble-overs, the contents should fill no more than 1/4 of the bowl; an 8-cup measure works well here.
2) Microwave the ingredients in 1-minute increments, removing from the oven and stirring to combine after each minute.
3) When curd starts to thicken; coats the back of a spoon; and starts to mound a bit as you stir, it’s done. This will take anywhere from 4 to 10 minutes, depending on the strength/power of your microwave (note: it’s still fairy thin once it’s cooked, but thickens significantly after an overnight in the fridge).
4) Stir the curd one more time, spoon it into a storage container, and refrigerate until firm.
5) Keep curd refrigerated for up to 3 weeks; freeze for longer storage.
Yield: a scant 2 cups lemon curd.
May 26, 2014
Posted in baking, cupcakes, desserts