Yesterday at work I received some particularly upsetting news: my very wonderful supervisor is moving out West with her husband. I was caught by complete surprise and a not so thrilling day set out before me. Plus it was raining outside. Most times when rain is falling I am delighted since it reminds me of The Homeland and my curly hair and freckles seem to dance off my head. But on this day it would not be so.
Post-work, I prescribed myself a workout and a baking adventure. Yes, endorphins and sugar. That’s just what the doctor ordered.
I leafed through The Cupcakes Diaries that my man gave me for Christmas. It’s a mixture of recipes and the stories behind them written by the sisters of the famed cupcake shoppe (fancy word for “shop”, pronounced “sho-pay”), Georgetown Cupcake in DC. While, I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting it in person, I imagine it is a heavenly place with heavenly smells.
My selected recipe was Lemon Blossom Cupcakes. They were a little bit more work than your average box. The “little bit more work” also entailed me making an emergency visit to the 24-hour CVS to pick up new flour (and one particular impulsive extra that I swore to myself I wouldn’t buy). I found an entire bug kingdom inside the stash I had on hand. Ick. The cupcakes turned out beautifully though. Dare to dream how delicious they will taste when I make them from this
and not my casino-begotten handheld mixer (don’t ask)!
In the recipe below, I’ve included my notes about how I cut corners because I took advantage of the fact that I’m clearly not a professional. I left them unfrosted so I could have them as muffins. My thoughts behind that are if I have to take some extra effort to frost them, I won’t be as likely to do so and thus avoid consuming unneeded calories. Gen-ius.
Gor-geous. She was my impulsive buy. Are you waiting for the rationale behind my purchase? Have you come to expect it? Okay, good, because here it is. A.) I LOVE September for its textbook-like magazines of pages dripping with fall fashion. I want to sip coffee and light candles and wear black-rimmed glasses (which I don’t have or need) and soak up every last bit information. B.) It has Kate Middleton on the front, DUH. C.) (Unrelated) Hey, Vanity Fair. “Kate the Great” has already been used. Newsweek. April 2011. I should know because the cover is hanging up, framed on my wall.
The result of the evening? Complete success. Happiness achieved.
Lemon Blossom Cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake
Makes 12 cupcakes (I got at least 24 out of this)
FOR THE CUPCAKES
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup freshly grated lemon zest (2 to 3 lemons)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard cupcake pan with twelve paper baking cups, or grease the pan with butter if not using baking cups. (Cute baking cups are a must.)
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt on a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper and set aside. (My tiny, tiny kitchen did not allow for this luxury. I just added in as is, sans bugs, and hoped for the best.)
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a bowl with a handheld electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar for 3 to 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition.
4. Add the vanilla to the milk in a large liquid measuring cup.
5. Add one third of the dry ingredients followed by one third of the milk, and mix thoroughly. Repeat. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the last third of dry ingredients followed by the last third of milk. Mix slowly until just incorporated. (Suck it up and just do this extra step. I swear it makes a difference.) Add lemon juice and zest (I have found that I am not very skilled at grating), and mix thoroughly at low speed.
6. Scoop the batter into the cupcake pan using a standard-size ice-cream scoop (Perhaps a little over-the-top. A spoon will do.) until the cups are two-thirds full (I filled mine 3/4 full in the second batch and they came out much better) and bake for 16-18 minutes (start checking at 15 minutes) (I took them out at 15 minutes, but I like them a little underdone), or until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
FOR THE LEMON CREAM-CHEESE FROSTING
(I did not make this. I can only be bake-from-scratch-girl for so long.)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup freshly grated lemon zest (2 to 3 lemons)
Combine the ingredients in a mixer and whip together at high speed until light and airy, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Frost the cupcakes with the signature swirl (You’ll have to buy the book to find that one out!) , and top with a lemon wedge or piece of lemon zest.