Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Lemon raspberry cupcakes

There’s something engrained into most New Englanders called the baking reflex. When there’s a public holiday, you bake. When there’s something to celebrate, you bake. When you’re stuck inside because of bad weather, you bake. When you want to welcome new neighbours or comfort friends, you bake (for them). I have even been known to stay up late baking on the night before moving to a new place because I thought everyone involved would want cookies. What’s that you say? Easier to just buy things rather than make them? But…that would just be wrong…

So, it’s no great surprise that after settling on my living room couch to watch the royal wedding on Friday (and seriously considering doing my own wedding over again so I could have a dress like that), the New Englander in me was struck with the unavoidable impulse to bake something. Cupcakes seemed to fit the occasion, and I thought the elegant combination of lemons and raspberries had an air of royal sophistication (or it did at the time…). The closest I could come to was a bottle of lemon juice and a jar of raspberry jam, but that could work, right? Lemon cupcakes with raspberry jam in the middle?

I tried to find out about the best way to fill cupcakes with jam, but most recipes had cupcakes with cream cheese or chocolate in the middle. Failing that, I learned how I could make the cupcake, scoop out the middle, fill it and either do something creative with the middles or just forget they existed. That sounded like far too much trouble, although it’s similar to what’s done with fairy cakes here in England. The top of the cupcake is cut off, then a bit of frosting added, then the top divided in half and placed on top of the frosting to look like wings.

Anyway, I decided to treat the jam like a cream filling and added a dollop after putting some of the cupcake batter into each paper (or cake case, as they call them here across the pond). I then put a tiny bit more batter on top, shoved the muffin pan in the oven and hoped for the best. Fifteen minutes later, I discovered the following:

  1. Just because the batter doesn’t fill a cupcake paper doesn’t mean it won’t overflow as it bakes.
  2. Cupcakes spilling over and around papers are very messy.
  3. Raspberry jam is heavier than the cupcake batter, and sticks really well to the papers.
  4. It takes a lot of lemon juice to get a distinctly lemony taste.

So, on “spur-of-the-moment” cupcakes take two, I used lemon extract and real raspberries instead. That worked loads better (though T happily ate both versions). Here’s how it went…

Lemon raspberry cupcakes (makes 18-20 cupcakes)
½ cup (115g) butter, softened
¾ cup (170g) sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅓ teaspoon lemon extract
½ cup (125ml) milk
1½ cups (190g) flour
½ tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
36-40 raspberries, washed

Buttercream frosting
⅓ cup (75g) butter, softened
3 cups (375g) powdered/icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ tablespoons milk (can add a little more if needed)


  • Preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C. Line muffin pan(s) with papers.
  • Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, and beat well. Add vanilla and lemon extract.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Add this to the batter alternately with the milk, blending after each addition.
  • Carefully spoon the batter into each cupcake paper until no more than ¾ full. Place one raspberry in the middle of each one – there is no need to press it down.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the very top of around the centre comes out clean.
  • Let the cupcakes sit in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then move them onto a wire rack to cool.
  • When the cupcakes have cooled, prepare the frosting: cream the butter and sugar, then add the vanilla and milk. Add more milk to make the frosting thinner, or more sugar to make the frosting thicker.
  • Swirl frosting onto the top of each cupcake. Place a raspberry in the centre.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for mentioning fairy cakes; here in the UK, as you will have seen, we have embraced cupcakes with enthusiasm and the humble fairy cake seems to have been all but forgotten.