Showing posts with label lemon icing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lemon icing. Show all posts

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Famous Faces’ Favourite Fancies – Lemon and poppy seed cupcakes with lemon butter icing

I have often voiced my dislike of lemon on this site and balanced it with my family’s love of it.  I even married into a lemon-loving family so now have even more relatives flying the ‘we love lemon’ flag.  What has proven to me, once and for all, how my lemonphobic ways are out of step with society at large, are the Famous Face responses I received.  Of the responses, I would estimate that maybe as many as three quarters of the male choices are for lemon cakes of one kind or another, mostly lemon drizzle.  The ladies are far more varied in their tastes.  I wonder why this is? Do women think more about cake than men?  Are we more willing to try different flavours, whereas men find something they like and stick with it? This is also why I have to ration the Famous Faces posts....otherwise it would be week after week of lemon drizzle cakes (I can hear my family murmuring that wouldn’t be a bad thing!)

Gyles Brandreth is someone I can always remember popping up on the television in one guise or another throughout my life.  Whether you recall the ‘interesting’ jumpers he wore on TVAM, his anecdotes in Countdown’s Dictionary Corner, or his reports for The One Show, I defy you not to have had a chuckle at/with him at some point.  I remember, in my younger days, reading that Gyles and his wife ran a teddy bear museum in Stratford-Upon-Avon, now relocated to Wimbledon (the museum that is, not Stratford-Upon-Avon) and thinking this was the most wonderful thing anyone could do! Then he became a Conservative MP for Chester for five years.  I think that could be termed a broad career!

Here’s an interesting thing: for my Famous Faces feature I wrote to many different people and chose a selection of better known politicians from each of the major parties.  I have had three responses from politicians (Boris Johnson, Gyles and one who thanked me for writing but declined to answer) and they have all been from Conservatives.  What can this mean?  Is it mere coincidence?

I have tried my best to meet Gyles’ selection criteria.  He said: “a lemon cupcake with butter icing takes my fancy...who cares about cholesterol?!”  The lemon sponge element is particularly interesting in this recipe.  The combination of lemon zest with yoghurt gives it a light, lemon curd flavour.  The poppy seeds add crunch, so often missing in cupcakes.

The buttercream is as classic and simple as buttercream can get.  I think people often say that this type of buttercream is too heavy but I don’t think it is; my theory is that it isn’t whipped enough.  If you whip buttercream long enough it becomes light and fluffy – like whipped cream. 

PS. For a confirmed, card-carrying lemon hater...I thought these cupcakes were delicious!


For the cupcakes:
175g unsalted butter
225g self raising flour
175g golden caster sugar
2 lemons – grated zest only
3 eggs
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
100g natural yoghurt

For the buttercream:
225g unsalted butter –at room temperature
400g icing sugar
1 lemon – juice only

To decorate: flowers and sprinkles


Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Line a 12 hole cupcake pan with paper cases.

Start by melting the butter over a gentle heat and then leave to cool slightly before making the cupcakes – about 5-10 minutes is plenty.

Place the flour, sugar and lemon zest in a bowl and stir together.

Stir in the poppy seeds.

Add the eggs and yoghurt to the cooled butter and whisk together.

Pour into the dry mix and combine.

Spoon into the cases – they will look fuller than with a normal cupcake batter but don’t worry; they rise nicely and won’t overspill the pan.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the sponge comes out clean.  I recommend using the skewer test as the cupcakes remain pale, so judging them on colour won’t help.

Leave to cool completely on a wire rack, and remove from the baking pan as soon as it is cool enough to do so.

Now make the buttercream: beat the butter until pale and whippy.

Beat in the icing sugar and lemon juice.

Keep beating until you have a light whippy buttercream that looks almost like cream – you can’t rush this!

Spoon into a piping bag and swirl generously on each cupcake.

Decorate with sprinkles or wafer flowers.  Best eaten on the day of making.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 4 March 2012

Cake balls, four ways

I have resisted the phenomenon that is cake pops because I can never get past the line in the method that instructs you to break the cake into crumbs. I wouldn’t need buttercream to bind the crumbs; my tears (caused by such wanton vandalism) would do the job. But I have to admit I do like the look of them, the size of them and their versatility.

Enter Lakeland with their cake ball machine
. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s a plug in counter-top machine that bakes small amounts of sponge mix into balls in less than 5 minutes. Impressive, non? And you get all the joy of a cake ball without having to desecrate the sponge.

I found that lifting the balls out was easy if you used two cocktail sticks; they are small enough so as not to tear the sponge:

For my first dalliance with this machine I kept it simple. All the cake balls are made from the same tried-and-tested vanilla cupcake sponge recipe
. Some I rolled in jam and coconut for a classic English Madeleine:

When I rolled the balls in the hot jam I just had to photograph them as they looked so beautiful – almost like plums:

Others were rolled in chocolate ganache
and chopped nuts:

As you can see, the sponge is a lovely texture; I was really impressed with this little machine:

For the citrus lovers amongst my eatership I rolled the sponge in lemon drizzle mix
so that the whole ball was covered in the thin crusty glaze (it pains me to say it, but these were voted the favourites on the day – even by only casual lemon-eaters):

And finally, so no one had any grumbles, I cut some in half and sandwiched them with peanut butter cheesecake

Serving them in mini cupcake cases gave the air of a box of truffles – a really cute look with no need for any decorating skills at all:

Ingredients and method

Obviously, the quantities will vary depending how many cake balls you wish to make. Here are the basic quantities that you can scale up or down based on your needs.

For the cupcake sponge (this will make 12 normal sized cupcakes or 32 cake balls):
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
125g self raising flour
1 tablespoon milk

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Beat in the vanilla

Beat in the eggs, flour, and milk.

When the mixture is smooth and well combined, spoon teaspoonfuls of batter into the oiled (I used Dr Oetker cake release spray and – contrary to the cake ball maker’s instructions found that I didn’t need to reapply) cake ball maker. It’s important to work quickly and cleanly – if you drip batter anywhere other than the holes you will find you don’t get nice clean cake balls.

Bake for 4 minutes or until the balls are firm. Mine took exactly 4 minutes and the easiest way I found to remove them from the machine was to spear them lightly with 2 cocktail sticks and lift them out.

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

When they are cool, gently pick off any surplus batter that makes them look like Saturn with its rings!

Now the fun bit – decorating!

For the Madeleine version (enough for 16 balls):
Heat some jam (I used almost a whole jar of raspberry) and roll the balls in it.

Roll in a approx 100g of desiccated coconut.

For the chocolate ganache (enough for 16 balls):
125g dark chocolate – I used half dark, half milk
150ml double cream
100g chopped nuts

Place the chocolate, broken into chunks, in a heatproof bowl.

Heat the cream to boiling point, then immediately pour over the chocolate.

Leave to stand for a couple of minutes then stir until it is smooth and well combined.

Leave to cool and firm up before rolling the balls in it.

Roll the balls in chopped nuts.

For the lemon drizzle (enough for 16 balls):
2 lemons – zest and juice
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Icing sugar – enough to make a runny icing; the quantity required will depend on the juiciness of your lemon!

Place the lemon zest, juice and caster sugar in a bowl and beat in enough icing sugar to make a thin, extremely runny icing. (The reason for using caster as well as icing sugar is that the caster won’t sink into the cake and leaves a lovely light sugar crust on the top of the cake).

Pierce the cake balls all over – I used a cocktail stick for this.

Sit the balls in the glaze and leave them to absorb the lemon for 5 minutes or so.

Use a fork to lift the balls out and let the excess glaze run off.

For the cheesecake (easily enough for 32 balls – I only used it for 16 and spread the rest on digestive biscuits as a tasty treat!):
150g cream cheese – I used Philadelphia

25g icing sugar
70ml double cream
2-3 tablespoons peanut butter and add more to taste

Beat together all the ingredients except for the peanut butter.

When you have a smooth consistency spoon beat in the peanut butter.

Cut the cake ball in half and spoon or pipe a ring of cheesecake around one flat surface.

Press together with the other sponge half.

Refrigerate until you wish to serve.

Serve in small paper cases or on sticks.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 13 March 2011

Famous Faces’ Favourite Fancies - Lemon drizzle cake

Fanfare please as I launch a new feature on my site: Famous Faces’ Favourite Fancies!
I have written (for my younger readers by “written” I mean composing a letter, printing it on paper, putting it in an envelope and using the postal system, not asking via Twitter or Facebook!) to some of the country’s most famous faces and asked them what their favourite cake is. I have received gruff refusals from some (you know who you are!) but thankfully a larger amount of lovely replies and it is these that I shall feature periodically on my site.

My first Famous Face sharing his Favourite Fancy is the Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
Probably Britain’s most well-known personality politician, he is as controversial as he is hilarious (just reading through the wikipedia account of his appearances on satirical news quiz “Have I got News for You” made me laugh out loud). What’s not to love about anyone who says, when talking about his one week spent as a management consultant, “Try as I might, I could not look at an overhead projection of a growth profit matrix, and stay conscious.”

Boris Johnson has chosen lemon drizzle cake as his Favourite Fancy.
The lemon drizzle cake I have made is light and juicy – from not only the lemon juice but also the inclusion of ground almonds.

For the drizzle I used a combination of caster sugar and icing sugar; this is because icing sugar will seep into the cake whereas the caster sugar will sit on top and add a lemony crystallised topping.
In other words, using two sugars provides the best of both worlds! When pouring the drizzle over the cake it’s a good idea to put a piece of paper or foil under the rack so as to protect your work surface; it also makes cleaning up easier as you simply dispose of the mess along with the paper/foil.

Pondering what plate to set the finished cake on, Mr CC pointed out that it had to be my “London map” plate, given that the cake was inspired by Boris Johnson. Mr CC is very useful to have on hand at such moments!

Finally, I end with an apology to Boris. A few months ago, at the traffic lights on the north side of London Bridge, I tried to nip across the road as the traffic lights were changing. Who came hurtling towards me on his bike –at a frankly startling rate of knots - white-blond hair sticking out from his cycle helmet? You’ve guessed. I am pleased to report that he was a perfect gentleman and didn’t swear at me or gesticulate. Sorry about that Boris...hope this recipe makes up for it!


For the cake:

225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g caster sugar
2 lemons – zest and juice
4 eggs
200g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
50g ground almonds

For the drizzle:

2 lemons – zest and juice
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Icing sugar – enough to make a runny icing; the quantity required will depend on the juiciness of your lemon!


Preheat the oven to 180˚C/fan oven 160˚C/350˚F/Gas mark 4.

Line a 20cm round springform tin with baking paper.

Beat together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy – don’t be tempted to skimp on this stage; the mixture needs to be pale and whippy.

Stir in the lemon zest.

Beat in the eggs on at a time, add a little of the flour if it looks like the mix might curdle. (If you’ve beaten the butter and sugar for long enough nothing should curdle).

Fold in the flour and baking powder.
Fold in the ground almonds and lemon juice.

Spoon into the prepared cake tin and level the surface.

Bake for approximately 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Mine took 1 hour 5 minutes.

Put the cake, still in the tin, on a wire rack and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the drizzle glaze: Place the lemon zest, juice and caster sugar in a bowl and beat in enough icing sugar to make a thin, extremely runny icing. (The reason for using caster as well as icing sugar is that the caster won’t sink into the cake and leaves a lovely light sugar crust on the top of the cake).

Remove the cake from the tin and place it back on the wire rack.

Place a sheet of baking paper or foil under the wire rack.

Slowly pour the glaze over the top of the cake taking care to ensure that the whole top and sides are covered, and then leave to cool completely before storing in an airtight container (it will keep for several days).

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 2 March 2008

Iced lemon curd layer cake

Today is Mothering Sunday so what better treat for the Caked Crusader’s Ma (CCM) than something lemony? The CCM has a penchant for lemon and I reckon this cake must be a lemon-lover’s dream. The sponge contains lemon, the lemon curd is practically all lemon, and the lemon icing is topped with lemon zest. I don’t see how any more lemon could be added to this cake!

The finished cake is attractive and I like the layering when a slice is cut; I love this photo as the main cake is visible in the background. It's come out rather arty, albeit unintentionally:

Nothing about this cake is difficult but there are several stages to it. I made the sponge and the curd the day before I wanted the cake. This only left assembly and icing on the day itself. It all begins with simple sandwich sponges:

I have been quite vocal in the past about my lemon-loathing but even I have to admit that this cake looks a beauty. The curd was particularly pleasing to make; so many lemon curd recipes contain yucky things like cornflour to thicken the mix. This one doesn’t and I think has a better taste and consistency for it. Here it is cooking in the pan:

I also got to use my new lemon squeezer – it’s great because it gets all the juice out without any risk of pips falling into the mix. And in this age of hi-tech gadgetry it couldn’t be a simpler piece of equipment!

For the sponge:
175g unsalted butter, at room temperature
175g caster sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 eggs
175g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

For the lemon curd:
Grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
75g caster sugar
2 eggs
50g unsalted butter

For the lemon icing:
50g icing sugar
2-3 teaspoons lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon

How to make:

- Preheat the oven to 170°C/fan oven 150°C/325°F/Gas mark 3.
- Grease two 18cm sandwich tins.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until they are pale and fluffy. Don’t skimp on this stage – give the mixture a good beating.
- Gradually beat in the eggs, lemon juice and zest, alternating with the flour and baking powder i.e. beat in a bit of the wet ingredients, then some of the dry ingredients, then some wet etc. This avoids the mixture curdling.
- Spoon into the tins and level.
- Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Mine took exactly 35 minutes.
- Allow to cool in the tin for a couple of minutes before turning out onto a wire rack and allowing to cool completely.
- Now make the lemon curd. Stir together the sugar, lemon zest and juice, eggs.
- Cut the butter into little pieces and add to the lemon mix.
- Either place the mixture into a bain marie pan or, if you don’t have one, simply put a bowl over a pan of simmering water making sure the bowl and water are not touching. Cook for approximately 20 minutes until the curd has thickened. Stir frequently – you don’t have to be obsessive, just don’t wander off and forget about it. For the first few minutes the mix will look very runny but then will suddenly thicken!
- When it has thickened remove from the heat, spoon the curd into a bowl and leave to cool.
- Up to this point, everything can be done the day before. Keep the sponge in an airtight container and keep the curd in the fridge.
- When you come to assemble the cake cut each sponge through – so you now have 4 layers of cake.
- Spread the lemon curd evenly over each layer and start to stack the cake. The curd covers the three middle layers – the top will have icing.
- The icing is made by simply beating together the icing sugar and lemon juice until the consistency is smooth and runny. Allow to rest in the bowl as it will thicken slightly.
- Spread the icing on the top layer of cake and don’t panic if it drizzles down the side.
- Whereas for the cake and curd the lemon zest was grated to ensure it was fine, for the top you want something a little more dramatic so use a zester and this will provide long curls of lemon zest!
- Scatter the lemon zest on top and voila – cake made!
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Lemon cake with crunchy topping

Being the lovely person that I am, I sometimes make cakes with ingredients I don’t like but that others do. I have no idea why I loathe lemons as much as I do, there are no bad experiences I can point to as the reason. But I do loath it – it’s acidic and biting and yuck. And best suited to making cleaning products. However, most people seem to love it and I have been told that this is a lovely cake if you like that sort of thing.

The sponge is beautiful and golden and particularly light. What elevates this from being just another sponge is the crunchy topping added when the cake is out of the oven but still hot. It is achieved by brushing lemon juice and sugar onto the cake; the lemon juice sinks in and moistens the cake whereas the sugar sits on top and goes crunchy. I’ve tried to capture that in this photo:

It is a very clean and appetising looking cake. Perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.

For the cake:
250g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
4 eggs, lightly beaten
250g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons lemon juice

For the topping:
60ml lemon juice
125g caster sugar

How to make:

- Preheat the oven to 170°C/fan oven 150°C/325°F/Gas mark 3. Lightly grease and line a 23cm square tin.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
- Beat in the lemon rind and then gradually add the egg, beating thoroughly after each addition.
- Using a large metal spoon, fold in the flour, baking powder and lemon juice. Stir until combined and smooth.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface.
- Bake for approx 1 hour 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Mine took exactly 1 hour 20 minutes.
- Remove from the tin while still hot and place on a wire cooling rack.
- For the topping, mix the sugar and lemon juice together (don’t overmix as you don’t want the sugar to dissolve) and quickly brush over the top of the cake. It will seem like you have too much liquid but just keep brushing it on and it will absorb.
- Leave to cool.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Sticky Ginger Cake

In my youth I was never a fan of ginger, now I’m making up for it. Everything about stem ginger makes it great for baking: its mouth-watering stickiness, its wonderful aroma that fills your head so you can’t smell anything else, its warm taste and beautiful glossy golden colour. Plus the smell of it cooking wafts gently from the oven so that eventually the whole house smells of ginger cake!

This cake is very easy to make and can also be frozen un-iced. It’s warming to eat and exactly the dense, sticky texture that you want from a ginger cake although lighter than parkin. Which is great, as it means you can eat more of it!

I’ve never yet baked it without it cracking on the top, so don’t worry – it will still look marvellous:

Cracking doesn’t matter, especially if you’re going to ice the top. I would advise this as the sweet icing beautifully compliments the warm spices, and increases the stickiness! There are options as to what icing to use – these are set out below. You could also serve it warm with custard as a pudding. I chose to use the plain icing; here it is just when the icing has been put on and is hardening:


For the cake:
225g self raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
100g unsalted butter
100g dark muscovado sugar
100g black treacle
100g golden syrup
250ml milk (whole or semi-skimmed)
85g stem ginger from a jar – finely grated
1 egg

For the icing:
11 tablespoons icing sugar
3-4 tablespoons water


For lemon drizzle icing:
50g icing sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon lemon juice

How to make:

- preheat oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C/Gas mark 4 and line a 18cm round deep cake tin with baking paper – I prefer the cake tin liners
you can buy, the ones that look like giant cupcake cases, because then there is no need to grease the tin.
- Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and spices into a large bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles bread crumbs. (NB. If you want your cake to be spicier, add more of the ground ginger. Don’t add more stem ginger as this is moist and will upset the balance of the cake).
- Heat the sugar, treacle, syrup and milk gently in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. You know this has happened when you cannot see grains on the back of your spoon.
- Turn up the heat and bring the mixture almost to the boil. Then turn the heat off.
- Add the grated stem ginger to the flour mixture. I find stem ginger easiest to chop in my electric mini chopper; you could grate it by hand but it is very sticky and might be tough to hold on to.
- Pour the treacle mixture into the flour mixture stirring all the time. Crack in the egg and beat until the mixture looks well combined.
- Pour the mixture into the tin. It will be very runny so don’t panic!
- Bake for approx 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. I have made this cake three times and each one took a different length of time. Definitely check it after 50 minutes but don’t panic if it needs an hour or more even.
- Leave to cool in the tin completely before turning out.
- To make the icing, put the icing sugar and water in a bowl and whisk until smooth. It really isn’t an exact science – if it looks too runny, add more icing sugar, too thick, add water until you get the consistency you want. Spoon over the top of the cool cake and let it run where it pleases.
- The lemon icing is the same method but makes less so drizzle it in a criss-cross pattern over the cake.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.