My baking obsession is whisking into fifth gear. It's ridiculous how excited a person can get about planning a deliciously fussy dessert for
I do know that I would like the following: A Cuisinart 11-cup food processor, any lovely grey sweater from Anthropologie and an extra week of summer; but I still don't know what I want to make. After last year's butter-laden salty sweet cake, I'm thinking less chocolate, more fruit.
September is not a very hip month. It marks the end of a beloved season, and all the fun fruits take their leave right around Labor Day. September is kind of like that guy you wanted to like in the 4th grade, he was cute and friendly, but because your mom liked him so much and kept pushing you to be friends, you were convinced that there had to be something wrong with him...even though that was not the case.
But with each passing year, I'm slowly beginning to appreciate my birthday month. I only wish it gave me more fruitling options to bake with. Thank goodness for autumn-reticent cherries & the immortality of lemons.
These cupcakes would be perfect for a birthday party. Even if no one has a birthday coming up, I think you need to make these. Find any errant excuse to bake a batch; and if you can't think of an excuse, use that as an excuse.
Besides, why should we have to justify making cupcakes? They make us happy, right? The things that make us happy should be celebrated, not put off until 'the right time.' These cupcakes are fluffy, soft and cheek-tingling, lemony. They should be enjoyed in excess. The cherry buttercream frosting will make you weak in the knees. Cherry. Buttercream. Frosting. Bada boom, bada bing. You need this frosting in your life. I promise, it will make you deliriously happy.
Lemon Cupcakes and Cherry Buttercream Frosting
1 1/2 cups + 3 Tablespoons of cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons of baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
6 Tablespoons of butter, at room temperature
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
zest of 2 lemons (3, if they're small)
1/2 cup of half & half (whole milk will work too)
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners
In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking Powder, and salt. Whisk and set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, using the paddle attachment (or any large bowl, if you're using a hand-held mixer), beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes, depending on the mixers mojo.)
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the vanilla extract and lemon zest, and beat for about 1 minute.
In alternate increments of 3 and 2 (3 for the flour mixture, 2 for the cream), add the remaining ingredients. When doing this, always begin and end with the dry ingredients, and always have the mixer on low. It's better to under-beat than over-beat. Stop the mixer and add the cream as soon as the flour streaks have just disappeared into to batter.
Once everything has been combined, divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into a center cupcake comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow the cupcakes to chill for about 10 minutes before carefully taking them out of the cozy little pan.
Cool completely before frosting.
Cherry Buttercream Frosting
1 cup (that's 2 sticks) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon of salt
3 to 4 cups of confectioners sugar (you may only need 3, but have 4 on hand just in case)
1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup of clean, dry, pitted, and chopped cherries [Note: I know that cherries are a pain to chop, but it's worth it, I promise. I chopped my cherries into tiny pieces, but if you're feeling lazy and you have a strong mixer, just divide and quarter them.]
In the bowl of your stand mixer, using the paddle attachment (you can use a hand-held mixer too, just be sure you have a large bowl to accommodate any flying sugar ), beat the butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Slowly begin adding 3 cups of sugar (about 1/2 cup at a time.)
With each addition, start beating on low speed, and gradually increase as the sugar mixes into the butter.
Once 3 cups of the sugar have been added, beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest until well combined.
Turn the mixer off and add the chopped cherries.
Beat at medium-high speed, until the frosting becomes smooth and creamy.
[Note: There will be chunks of cherries that won't break up...and that's good! They will give the frosting a pretty, pebble-like texture.]
If the frosting is too runny, gradually add that remaining cup of sugar. You're aiming for a thick, almost ice cream-like, consistency. If it's extremely humid, you may want to cover the bowl and refrigerate the frosting for about 20 minutes.
On the flip side, if your frosting is too thick, add a few teaspoons of milk, or cream, but add it gradually...a little bit of liquid goes a long way in frosting.
Decorate the cupcakes as desired! You don't have to pipe out the frosting, it will look just as pretty if you spread it on with an off-set spatula. My piping tip actually clogged up with cherry bits after decorating the first few cupcakes, so it may be easier to just free-form the frosting with the creativity that's living in your wrist.
Makes 12 splendid cupcakes