Another birthday bake from me for a colleague at work. Over the long summer days I kept on meaning to bake a lemon drizzle cake, and unfortunately time got the better of me and I disappointed, but not wanting to disappoint I baked these. They all went down a storm; but especially the meringue ones!
The recipe is a vanilla cupcake recipe that my mum swears by it makes a lovely fluffy textured cupcake then only exception is that I spiked it with lemon zest and juice.
220g unsalted butter
450g caster sugar
4 large eggs
300g self raising flour
250g plain flour
3 lemons, juiced and zested
It’s a basic batter recipe, so I won’t spend too much time here, we’re going for a light fluffy batter so ensure everything is incorporated before moving on to the next step.
- Preheat the oven to 180˚C, (375˚F /Gas Mark 4).
- Soften the butter in a bowl and blend together with the sugar until you’ve got a light fluffy mixture.
- In a separate bowl sift the flours together.
- Beat one of your eggs to your butter mixture followed by a heaped tablespoon of the flour mixture, this stops the mixture curdling. Beat in the second egg.
- Beat in the one third of the flour, followed by one third of the milk and then repeat until all the flour and milk is in your batter.
- Finally fold in the zest and juice of just one lemon, saving the rest for the drizzle in a little bit.
- Divide the cupcakes into twelve cases and pop into the oven for twenty-five to thirty minutes, until a cocktail stick poked into a cupcake comes out clean.
- Take the juice of the remaining lemon, add 150g sugar to a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil for five minutes. Stirring to ensure it doesn’t burn.
- Take the cupcakes out of the oven when they’re ready, and poke all over with a cocktail stick and pour the drizzle over the lemon drizzle whilst the cupcakes are still hot so it gets absorbed into the cakes.
- Leave to cool completely
Whilst the cupcakes are baking we’ll make the lemon drizzle to pour over the top as soon as they come out of the oven.
This is an Italian meringue, the great thing about it is that you don’t need to bake it in the oven to cook it so you’re not going to risk drying the cupcakes out. It’s easier than people think, and you don’t need a super fancy sugar thermometer, it would help, but I just use my milk thermometer which you can pick up for approx. £3 from the supermarket.
3 egg whites
- Put the sugar and water in a saucepan stirring until all the sugar is dissolved.
- Beat the egg white gently in a heat proof bowl until they form soft peaks.
- When the sugar reaches 100˚C start beating the egg whites on a high speed so that you have stiff peaks.
- As the sugar approaches 118˚C get ready to take it off the heat, any hotter and you’ll find the sugar starts to turn a golden brown as it caramelises, not desirable for us this time.
- With the whisk on full speed, pour the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl with the egg whites in, and keep beating it into the mixture. You’ll find the egg whites turn into a lovely glossy texture, keep beating until the side of the bowl is no longer hot, this can take around fifteen minutes!
- Viola, you have cooked Italian Meringue.
- Next pop the meringue mixture into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. If you’re used to piping butter icing this will feel rather strange as it’s so much lighter! Make sure you’ve got all the air bubbles out as meringue is less forgiving when piping than butter icing.
- You can either use a kitchen blowtorch here, or if like me you don’t happen to own one of these (who does?!), turn your grill (broiler) on to full heat to preheat for the next step
- Pipe a swirl onto two of your cupcakes, transfer to the grill and watch VERY carefully. We want it to go crispy and go golden brown, but we want to avoid burning; and believe me it happens very quickly. Turn them to make sure they’re nice and evenly coloured.
- Repeat until twelve of your cupcakes are covered and coloured under the grill.
Meringue is best consumed only a couple of hours after you bake it, I prepared these the day before as I was taking them into work. So if this is also the case for you, to re-crisp the top, just pop them under the grill once again so that the go crisp again. This won’t take long at all!
This butter icing is a simple butter icing with some lemon juice thrown in the keep the lemon flavouring going through the whole cake and then it’s coloured with some food colouring, I used Egg Yellow.
110g unsalted butter, softened
450g icing sugar
lemon juice to taste
yellow food colouring
- Cream the butter until soft
- Add a quarter of the icing sugar, followed by a tablespoon of lemon juice. Ensure that the mixture is fully combined before moving on.
- Repeat step two until all of the ingredients are used. I said lemon juice to taste because you may want a more subtle lemon flavour in the butter icing than I used, just taste it as you go along and stop adding it when you like how it tastes. Remember when it comes to baking, you can always add more, but never take away.
- Finally add the food colouring, again following the rule above, add a little at a time until you have a deep yellow colour.
- Pop the butter icing into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe twelve of your cupcakes with the butter icing.
- For the daisies, I cheated a little here, I just bought some ready made fondant from the supermarket, rolled it out and cut a daisy out with a cutter I already had. For the center I coloured a little bit of the fondant with the same yellow food colouring and stuck it to the daisy with a small dab of water.
Present and enjoy!