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Cloud-like Lemon Cupcakes

3 May

Recipe courtesy of Sifting Focus

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.


Red Velvet Cupcakes

4 Mar

Cake recipe courtesy of Cocina Marie via Foodiecrush, frosting adapted from Annie’s Eats

For the cake:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
2 drops red food coloring 
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar (or other mild vinegar)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 cup low-fat buttermilk 
6 large eggs 

For the frosting:
10 oz. cream cheese, chilled 
6 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature 
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted 
4 teaspoons vanilla extract 

Makes two dozen cupcakes. 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper or foil liners. In the bowl of an electric mixer equipped with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the vanilla extract, food coloring, and vinegar. 
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Sift the cocoa powder into the bowl (this step is very important because you do not want to end up with a clumpy batter). Mix these dry ingredients together and gradually add them to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Once combined, beat in the eggs. 
3. Fill lined muffin tins 3/4 full with the batter. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Once finished baking, remove the cupcakes from the tins and place on wire racks to cool completely. 
4. For the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer equipped with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla extract until fluffy. On low speed, gradually add the sifted sugar to the mixture and beat until fully combined. Frost the cupcakes and top with sprinkles, if desired. 

          You know what I love more than baking? Sharing my baked goods with others. I relish the moment I arrive at school or at a party with a fresh batch of homemade treats. I love seeing the smiles on peoples’ faces as I unveil my creation and watching as they enjoy the special goodie. Some ravenously gobble sweets down and some carefully savor each bite. Either way, I feel satisfied having brightened someone’s day with a delicious item that came from my kitchen. 
          So you can imagine my excitement when I walked into school on Friday holding a tray lined with these dainty red velvet cupcakes. Super airy, cloud-like, and topped with a rich vanilla cream cheese frosting, these cupcakes are superb. The six eggs beaten into the batter create the ever-so-light texture and perfect moistness that distinguishes them from several others red velvet cupcakes I have tried. To finish, a spoonful of vanilla cream cheese icing smeared on top complements the fluffiness of the cake perfectly. In short, get to the kitchen, make these cupcakes, love them, and sit back and relax when others love them just as much as you do.

Banana Cupcakes

23 Jun

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter (melted)
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (4 ripe bananas)
2 eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces
1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 cup milk

Makes 12 cupcakes.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
3. Make a small well in the center of the flour mixture. In the well, mix together the mashed bananas, butter, eggs, and vanilla. Stir to incorporate the entire mixture; do not over mix. Evenly distribute the batter into the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean, for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
4. For the frosting, in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar, beating to combine.
5. Add the vanilla bean seeds and vanilla extract and beat to combine. Slowly add milk and continue beating on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy, about five minutes.
6. Frost the cupcakes using a piping bag and garnish with a fresh banana slice. 

Moist, tender, and topped with airy vanilla bean frosting, bananas have never tasted so good. This heavenly cupcake recipe serves as a definite crowd-pleaser. The batter provides a flavorful base for all things banana, from breads to muffins. Enjoy whichever rendition you choose!