Cloud-like Lemon Cupcakes
For the cake:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 large eggs
- 1 3/4 cups cake flour
- 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
For the frosting:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
- Juice and zest from 2 lemons
- Generous pinch of salt
- 4 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
Yields 24 cupcakes.
1. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter to soften. Beat on medium speed, until it is light in color, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and continue to beat until very light, scraping down the sides and across the bottom of the bowl at least once. Beat in the lemon juice and zest. On medium speed, blend in the oil.
2. On the lowest speed, blend in the yolks, one at a time, mixing just to blend. Blend in the whole eggs, one at a time, mixing just to blend.
In a separate medium bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. On the lowest speed, blend over half of the flour mixture into the batter. Continue on the lowest speed and blend in half of the buttermilk. Continue adding the remainder of the flour until all is incorporated. Blend in the remaining buttermilk.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Beat just a little beyond this soft-peak stage. Stir about one-quarter of the whipped cream into the batter to lighten. Then fold the rest of the whipped cream into the batter.
4. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners using a small scoop or tablespoon. Fill slightly more than one half full. Gently tap the tins on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of one of the center cupcakes comes out clean. Switch the tins half way through to insure even baking.
5. Remove the cupcakes from the oven to a rack and cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Remove from the tin and cool completely before frosting.
6. To make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, thoroughly mix together the butter and cream cheese. Add the lemon juice, zest, and salt and mix to combine. On low speed, add the confectioner’s sugar, one cup at a time until you reach the desired spreading consistency. To finish, frost the cooled cupcakes and serve.
This lovely spring cupcake recipe comes from the newly-launched blog, Sifting Focus. I have had the pleasure of getting to know the creative force behind Sifting Focus, Mary. A talented baker, Mary has thoughtfully advised me on numerous questions and concerns I have had. I have confided in her in everything from demoralizing kitchen failures to challenges with photography. We have exchanged notes on our favorite cookbooks and bakeries from around the country. I vividly remember sending Mary an email after I successfully baked dessert for a Christmas party of more than 30 people. Jubilant language and exclamation points filled the message. I was thrilled to be communicating with someone who could resonate with my excitement at accomplishing such a task. It is incredible how blogging has connected us, two people from completely different backgrounds, bonding over a mutual love of food and baking.
For six months after we first met, I eagerly awaited the debut of her blog. When it finally launched in February, I was blown away. Mary’s writing was eloquent and personable, her photographs were beautiful, and her recipes looked delectable. Every item appeared so delicious that I was left with the difficult choice of which to try first. After much deliberation, I decided upon these light lemon cupcakes. What makes these treats so airy is the freshly whipped cream that is folded into the batter before baking. The cake’s texture resembles that of a cloud, irresistibly soft and puffy. The dough contains a subtle tanginess from the lemon juice and zest, complemented perfectly by the decadent cream cheese frosting. After this experience, I cannot wait to try more recipes from Mary’s fabulous site.