This post is being written only a week too late; the last week or so has been a hectic mish-mash of dashing backwards and forwards preparing for university, and now I am finally back here again, in the midst of collection revision chaos. There's no procrastination quite like blogging about cake.
Lemon flavoured cakes are coveted in my family, so needless to say my Mum was in no way impressed when I announced I was making these to take back to university with me. The recipe is adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery book.
A warning in advance: if you're prone to accidents (like me, actually!) I would think twice before attempting these as use of a blowtorch is involved. Myself and a blowtorch are probably just as about compatible as humanities students and early mornings... somehow though, I managed not to burn down the entire neighbourhood. The result was these moist lemon sponges, filled with zesty lemon curd and topped with sweet and crispy meringue.
Oh, and another apology is warranted: this post is severely lacking in pictures due to my highly distracted state of mind whilst making them. Despite being in the kitchen, my mind was with the dreaming spires, and less romantically, the impending thought of an Old English grammar test...
80g unsalted butter
280g caster sugar
240g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 large eggs
240ml whole milk
For the filling and frosting:
200g caster sugar
4 egg whites
100g lemon curd
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius (170 for fan ovens) and line a muffin tin with cases.
Using an electric whisk, beat together the butter, caster sugar, flour and baking powder until it forms fine breadcrumbs. Beat in the lemon zest.
Whisk together the eggs and milk in a jug and gradually beat into the dry mixture. Add the lemon juice and beat well, until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
Spoon the batter into the paper cases, until each is about two third full. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes (mine took 21 minutes) and leave to cool completely before decorating.
When cool, use a sharp knife to take the centre out of each cupcake. Fill this hole with lemon curd, then trim the part of the cupcake you took out and replace ontop of the lemon curd. (ie so you get a secret lemony surprise in the cupcake.)
To make the frosting, put the sugar into a small saucepan with a sugar thermometer and cover with approx 150ml cold water. Bring to the boil. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites in a freestanding electric whisk until just foamy.
Allow the sugar to boil for 10-15 minutes until it has reached soft ball stage (235-245 degrees Fahrenheit) then, with the mixer still running, pour the hot sugar syrup slowly into the egg whites being extremely careful not to let it touch the beaters, as this will cause it to flick everywhere (which will be painful.) When all the sugar has been added, turn the electric whisk up to high and continue whisking until the bottom of the bowl is lukewarm. The meringue should have quadrupled in side and be very shiny.
Top each cupcake with a generous amount of meringue, and then use a cook's blowtorch to brown it. If you do not have a blowtorch, pop them under the grill and keep a close eye on them.