The recipe is adapted from the fairy cake recipe in Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess, which I treated myself to post-Christmas. We actually made two batches – the recipe as is makes about 12 little cakes. We made one lot in an evening and didn’t ice them because we had no icing sugar… Great planning… The next morning we decided we would make a second batch, as there didn’t seem to be very many, and we wanted more.
Now, when making the first batch we’d forgotten to add the milk, so we purposefully left it out of the second batch. But, we forgot one other ingredient in the second batch… Here’s a picture – the sample from the first batch is on the left, and the sample from the second batch is on the right.
As you can see, the first batch of cakes were all lovely and even and scrumptiously awesome looking. The next batch, however… the taste didn’t change, but they rose in a very uneven and peaked manner.
You may have guessed by now that we forgot to put in the baking powder. Regular visitors might remember me mentioning that self-raising flour does not exist in Finland. And it does make a difference as you can see. The difference wasn’t solely aesthetical (there is a red wiggly line under that word, but my OED says it is right, and I trust the OED more than the WordPress spell-checker). The second batch also took slightly longer to cook. They still tasted wonderful though.
Now, we actually made these a few weeks ago. Since then things have been hectic, what with assignments and my entrance exam. Which is probably why I have
lost temporarily misplaced the notes for this post. I’m fairly certain that the icing recipe we used was adapted from this one but I can’t be certain. To be honest, you could use any icing recipe you want for this – if you prefer glacé icing, who am I to stop you?
Lemon Iced Vanilla Cupcakes
Servings – 12 cakes, plus enough icing for 24 (it’s very easy to double the cake recipe, just remember to cook them in batches, unless you have an enormous oven!)
Time – approximately 30-40 minutes (10-20 minutes preparation, 15-20 minutes cooking)
125g/4 1/2oz unsalted butter, room temperature
125g/4 1/2oz caster sugar
2 large eggs
125g/4 1/2oz self-raising flour (or, 125g plain flour + 2 tsp baking powder)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2-3tbsp milk, optional (not optional in the original recipe, but as I said, we forgot it and the cakes were still lovely)
Muffin tin and muffin cases (we just used a regular baking tray. The cases we use are silicone, and therefore re-usable – I would definitely recommend them over the paper variety.)
100g/4oz butter, room temperature
200g/8oz icing sugar
1-1 1/2tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract, optional (we didn’t use this)
Yellow food colouring, optional
Preheat the oven to 200c/400f/gas mark 6.
Place all the cake ingredients, except the milk, into a large bowl. Make sure you remembered the baking powder!
Using an electric whisk, beat together all the ingredients into well incorporated. If using the milk, add it now and pulse it in gently.
Set out the muffin cases on a tray. Put one tablespoon of batter at a time into each case. Once all the cases have batter, add the rest of the batter a little at a time to ensure even distribution. I believe we ended up with about 1.5-2tbsp batter per case. Make sure to use all the batter.
Put the tray with the cases on into the oven (make sure it is up to heat!) and bake for 15-20 minutes. When ready, the cakes should be golden on the top, be firm and springy, and not wobbly. If in doubt, insert a cake skewer, or toothpick, into the centre of a cake to test for doneness. If the skewer comes out clean, they’re ready, if not then bake them for a few more minutes.
Leave the cakes on a rack to cool.
Whilst the cakes are cooling, make the icing. Beat the butter with a quarter of the icing sugar. Gradually add more sugar, and if using it the vanilla essence, until it is all incorporated. Then, gradually mix in the lemon juice. Gently fold in the food colouring, if usable, until the icing is the desired shade.
Taste the icing, resisting the temptation to eat it all, and add more lemon juice if desired. If the icing is too runny, add more sugar. If it is too thick, either add some more lemon or, if it is lemony enough all ready, some milk, until it is the desired consistency.
Once the cakes are nice and cool, apply the icing in whatever manner you prefer. Whether that’s using an icing bag, or spreading with a knife (as we did) or something else, whichever you prefer. We used a little more than teaspoon per cake, though you may wish to use more. If there’s icing left over at the end, feel free to eat it!
And that’s it! The cakes should be stored in an air tight container for probably up to a week, if they last that long without being eaten! They may last slightly longer in the fridge, but I don’t much care for the texture cakes can get after refrigeration…
If you like lemony cakes, you may also like to try our Lemonade Bundt Cake recipe!