Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book Forty-Seven: The Modern Café

by Francisco J. Migoya/The Culinary Institute of America

                            Lemon Cupcakes

I seem to be on a quest for the perfect lemon cupcake; and by that I mean an intense lemon flavor that wows the taste buds.

I'm not sure what the purpose is of greasing the tin before placing the paper-liners in the mold, for this makes the wrappers unpleasant to handle and not what you want when you are presenting these as a gift (or otherwise). This is one step I will skip in the future.

These cupcakes have the zest of 4 lemons added to the batter and after baking, and to my surprise, they did not have a very intense flavor. To kick it up a notch I opted to fill the cupcakes with lemon curd; unfortunately I was short on time and had to use store bought rather than making my own which I like so much more. Then I topped them with a lemon buttercream frosting.

Well... my quest in finding the perfect lemon cupcake is in reach! These are pretty good. Next time I will bake them a little less for I thought they were a tad dry. As for the buttercream frosting I really liked that it did not have that greasy feeling on the tongue that you get with so many frostings today, though I think I can cut back on the sugar for it was just a bit too sweet.

The birthday girl and her hubby approved! Such wonderful comments from two cupcake connoisseurs- now I know for sure the ultimate lemon cupcake is at my fingertips! Thanks again for your kind words and encouragement!

Success meter (1-3): 3

Great tip that I learned from a friend:
grease your pan with the butter wrapper -
 usually there is just the right amount.

Frosting ingredients
Happy Birthday Dorothy!!

Lemon Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from The Modern Cafe
Yield: 20 cupcakes

340 g butter at 70°F
357 g sugar
6 g lemon zest
272 g eggs at 70°F
6 g salt
340 g pastry flour
3 g baking powder
76 g crème fraiche at 70°F

Preheat oven to 160°C/320°F.

Lightly spray 20 muffin cups with nonstick oil spray (personally I would skip this step) and line them with cupcake paper cups.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on medium speed using the paddle attachment. Mix until mixture becomes fluffy, light, and white. Add lemon zest and mix to combine.

Add the eggs in 4 additions. After every addition, stop the machine, drop the bowl, and scrape the bowl and paddle with a rubber spatula.

Combine the salt, pastry flour and baking powder in a bowl.

Add the flour mixture in 2 additions. Scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula after the first addition. After adding the rest of the flour mixture, mix just until incorporated. Again, scrape down the bowl and paddle attachment with a rubber spatula. Mix for 2-3 more seconds. Being careful not to overmix.

Add the crème fraiche and mix just until incorporated.

Portion batter into each cup filling about 2/3 full.

Bake in oven for about 25 minutes or until the center of the cupcake springs back when you apply gentle pressure with your fingertips.

Cool the cupcakes to room temperature.

Buttercream Frosting
Recipe adapted from Elizabeth Falkner’s Demolition Desserts/Google search
Makes about 2 cups

8 Tbl (4oz) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
2 ½ cups (10oz) powdered sugar, sifted
½ tsp kosher salt
1 Tbl plus 1 tsp whole milk (I replaced the 1 tsp with additional lemon juice)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
(I added zest of one lemon)

In a large bowl using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a handheld mixer, cream the butter on medium speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until light and creamy. Gradually add the sugar while continuing to beat, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

When all of the sugar has been incorporated, add the salt, milk, vanilla, and lemon juice, beating well after each addition. Then combine to beat ton high speed for 5-6 minutes, or until the frosting is fluffy.

If using, add the lemon zest just until incorporated.

Frosting is best the same day it is made but will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days tightly covered.


  1. These look quite good, Cathleen. I am always a big fan of filling cakes with lemon curd. Since cupcakes don't make for the most "adult" dessert, I tend to bake them in ramekins, turn them out, and slice/fill them horizontally like any other cake, and then serve as individual cakes. I know - it's all semantics as they are really cupcakes... :) Have a great weekend! David

    1. David, love the idea of cooking them in ramekins! And everyone gets their own little layered cake! Brilliant!


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