Before I begin I'd like to share a couple of baking tips with you. You might think "duh" when you read them but I'm sure they'll help someone:
- Eggs are important - they add structure, colour and flavour to cakes. I use large eggs and since making the switch from medium sized eggs I've found my cakes to be much lighter and fluffier.
- Make sure you've got all the ingredients you need before you start. I once got half way though making a coffee and walnut cake before I realised I only had strong white bread flour and that I didn't have any walnuts. Doh!
- Get all of your ingredients and equipment out before starting. Forgetting to get the sieve out of the cupboard is a sure fire way to get cake mixture all over your cupboards, door handles, floor and even in your hair!
- Use an electric hand mixer where possible. It combines ingredients far better than you can by hand and in less time. It can also help prevent RSI if you're a frequent baker. This isn't a joke, when I first started baking I actually ended up with baking related RSI!
- Don't cheat. This will be a divisive one but bear with me! A lot of people like to use cake mixture, add an egg and voila, delicious cupcakes. No. It's obvious to any baker when you've used a cake mixture - the texture is different and the taste is non-existent. If you want bland cakes then fine, use a packet mix but if you want people to comment on your beautifully tasting cakes as opposed to your fancy decoration then I implore you to bake from scratch. (Obviously there are a whole host of situations in which you could defend using a packet mix, such as when baking with children, but Mary Berry would have a coronary!)
- Always lick the spoon when you're done! This is one of the small pleasures in life. Just remember to wash it before using it again; I'm sure your family and friends don't want your spit in their cakes... (also don't lick the spoon if you're pregnant or shouldn't be eating raw eggs, I won't be held responsible if you do!)
I've adapted this recipe over the years from various base recipes. I would advise you to use unwaxed lemons and to use muffin cases rather than the smaller cake cases you can get.
- 175g unsalted butter, softened
- 175g caster sugar
- 2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 175g self raising flour, sifted twice
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan assisted) and line a bun tin with 12 paper muffin cases
- Place the butter and the sugar in a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy. The mixture should be very pale
- Add the lemon rind a little at a time and beat well
- Gradually add the whisked eggs making sure to mix well between additions
- Fold in a tablespoon of flour at a time using a metal spoon. Be gentle! Yes this is time consuming but it's also very important to add air to the mixture so you get fluffy cakes
- Divide the mixture evenly between the cake cases and bake for 20-25 minutes (I find 23 in my oven is just right) until the cakes are golden brown and firm to the touch
- Leave the cakes to cool for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire cooling rack
- Do not ice the cakes until they are completely cool or the icing will become runny!
Lemon buttercream icing recipe:
- 110g unsalted butter, softened
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (step away from the artificial flavouring!)
- 3 tsp finely grated lemon rind
- 500g icing sugar, sifted (or if you're like me 510g because whilst sifting a lot of it goes on the work top, floor, me...)
- Place the butter, lemon juice, lemon rind and half of the icing sugar in a bowl and mix until smooth
- Gradually add the rest of the icing sugar and keep mixing until smooth and creamy
|The cakes at the top were made for Children in Need "Show Your Spots" and were iced using a piping bag. The cakes at the bottom were iced using a palette knife.|
There was a time when I was a slave to the icing / piping bag. I wouldn't have dared use buttercream without it but it's a personal choice and when I made these buns I used a palette knife which gives cakes a more rustic look. It's up to you!
I recently received a second copy of a cookbook I already own, Cupcakes by Carol Pastor. My original copy is now sticky with use which shows how good it is! I decided to have a small giveaway for the new copy. The prize is a brand new hardback copy of the book. The giveaway ends at 22:30 (BST) on Monday 21st July. It is open internationally and the winner will be contacted via email and has 48 hours to reply before another winner will be chosen. All entries will be checked for validity.
Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter, and good luck!
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