Friday, 6 June 2014

Lemon and Strawberry Cupcakes

It is the oddest thing suddenly having no work to do.  As of June 2nd I am now finished with university.  Well, technically, it should be June 20th because that is when I know whether or not I have passed my final assessment.  But other than that I am done.  No placements.  No essays.  No e-portfolio.  Done.  Dusted.  Until August anyway.  Then I'll be a probationary teacher (somewhere that I do not know yet) and all this will start over again.  But there's 2 and a half months of no work until then though.

So yes, hello!  Long time no post.  Time sure does fly when you have way to much work to be getting done.  And several things had to give in order to make sure I got everything done.  You should have seen the mess I got into with the wedding invitations.  They have been slowly going out over the past month and a half because I just have not had time!  Especially when the printer throws a hissy fit and all 3 boxes of the paper I ordered was 1/4inch too short for some reason.  The tantrums that resulted were not pretty, trust me.  And of course, there was no time for baking.  Well, except one batch of cookies.  But that was a re-bake.  It's times like this that I could do with being more social in the blog-o-sphere.  Then I may have been able to wrangle up some guest posts rather than letting the blog collect dust for two months.  Maybe I should make a conscious effort to be more outgoing?  

Anyway!  Cake!  At last!  And cupcakes at that.  It's been far too long since I made cupcakes!  The last time was August!  Can you believe it?  We shall have to remedy that this summer I think.  

So May 23rd marked my official last day at Carleton Primary School (I went back for the school trip the following Thursday though) and to say thank you to all the lovely staff I decided to make cupcakes.  Now, my original plan was to make muffin sized cupcakes.  I planned to use my lovely yellow cases because one of the flavours was lemon and they would look so cute against the pink topping.  I deliberately went hunting for a recipe that looked like it yielded a really lovely, large and lemony cupcake.  I was all set.  I made up the mixture and put the first half into the cases as I only have a small oven and one set of trays so can only cook 12 at a time.  I was very happy.  This was the first time I was baking in weeks.  I was excited.  I went to put the tray in the oven and do you know what happened?

I dropped it.

All over the base of the oven.  And the door.  And the floor.  None of them were salvageable.

But do you know what was the worst part about this?  Well, dear readers, you see, my oven is a gas oven.  And the gas element for my oven is in the base.  That means there are holes in the 'floor' of the oven.  So where did the mixture go after I dropped it?  Through the holes.  And clogged the gas element.  So the oven went out and I could not relight it.

You can imagine how thrilled I was at that, can't you?  I will admit, there were tears.  Quite a lot actually.  It was one of those days.

Eventually I picked myself up, found a screwdriver, unscrewed the base and cleaned it out.  After about an hour I managed to get the oven to relight and stay lit.  It was frustrating but I did it.  I was going to make these cakes!  And there was still a whole other set to do afterwards for the class.  Of course though I had lost half my batter.  There really wasn't enough time or ingredients to make a new batch so I had to settle for making smaller cakes so I could still get 24.  And I had to use green cases rather than yellow.  Pity.  But never mind.  It was better than nothing.  In the write-up I'll be putting the full recipe.  It'll be up to you whether or not you make big or small cakes.

Admittedly, the small size was appreciated.  They ended up just as a couple of bites worth of cake but everyone who ate one enjoyed them.  The strawberry and lemon whipped cream was compared to yoghurt at one point but it too was well liked.  All in all they didn't turn out quite how I wanted but I was glad I had something to give and that that something was eaten up and highly complimented.  I'll likely make these again.  They make for a nice, light summery cake. 

Recipe- makes 24 large cupcakes or 48 regular cupcakes (fairy cakes)

Cakes - adapted from My Baking Addiction
  • 350g/12.5oz plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 310ml/11fl.oz buttermilk (or full fat milk mixed with 2 tsp lemon juice, allowed to stand for 5 minutes)
  • 4 egg whites
  • 285g/10oz caster sugar
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 115g/4oz butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
Strawberry Cream - inspired by Kitchen Simplicity 
  • Approximately 8 large strawberries
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 255ml/9fl.oz double cream
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 12 (for 24 cakes) or 24 (for 48 cakes) strawberries
  • Icing sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.  Line two 12 hole muffin tins with cupcake cases or four 12 hole cupcake tins with cupcake cases.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder.
  3. Mix the milk and egg whites together in another bowl.
  4. Put the sugar and lemon zest together in a large bowl and rub together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and smells wonderful and lemony.
  5. Add the butter and beat together with the sugar until the mixture is very light in colour.
  6. Add the extracts and mix in.
  7. Add one third of the flour mixture and beat in.
  8. Now beat in half the milk.
  9. Add half of the remaining flour mixture and beat in, followed by the rest of the milk and finally the last of the flour.  
  10. Beat everything for an extra few minutes to make sure it is thoroughly mixed.
  11. Share the batter evenly amongst the cases, filling them about two thirds full.
  12. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the cakes are risen and springy.  A skewer inserted into the centre of a cake should come out clean.
  13. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool. 
  14. To make the cream topping, put the strawberries together with the sugar in a blender and blend to a purée.
  15. In a large bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks.
  16. Add the strawberry purée to the cream and the lemon extract and whip again until you get stiff peaks.
  17. Put the cream in a piping bag fitted with a large, closed star nozzle.
  18. Hold the bag so the nozzle is perpendicular to the centre of a cake and squeeze for about 3 seconds.  You should get a nice little rosette of cream.  Do the same for all the cupcakes.
  19. To decorate, cut each strawberry in half and then slice each half into three pieces. 
  20. Press three slices into each cream rosette.
  21. Dust with icing sugar to finish.

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