Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cake of the Week: Lemon Filled Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

The weekend before last I hosted a bridal shower. The bride loves yellow, so yellow cupcakes were pretty much definitely going to happen. 

And not just any yellow cupcakes. No no, this had to be epic. I put my thinking clothes on (i.e. running clothes), called in some reinforcements for inspiration (i.e. Sister1) and came up with the ultimate bridal shower banquet battle plan. I made Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Curd Filling and Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting.

Lemon is delicious. It’s one of the few cake flavors that can rival chocolate in my cake-loving heart – and once you get lemon curd involved watch out! These babies might just knock chocolate out of the park.

I made my own lemon curd – it’s easy, just lemon juice, egg yolks, sugar and butter. But you can also buy it in a jar at the grocery store, I found it in the peanut butter and jam section.

For the cake I did Smitten Kitchen’s Best Yellow Layer Cake recipe, and added the zest of 2 lemons. And for the frosting I made my standard cream cheese frosting with the addition of one lemon’s juice an zest. De-freaking-licious. 

(Go here for the printable recipe.)

Lemon Curd
6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4-5 lemons)
2 tbsps grated lemon zest
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter (1 stick butter), cut into 1/8-in slices
Add 1-inch of water to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. In a medium metal bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar for about 2 minutes until smooth. Whisk in the lemon juice and zest until combined. 
Place the mixing bowl on top of saucepan (the bowl should be wide enough to fit on top of the saucepan, but shouldn't be touching the simmering water). Stir the mixture constantly with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as you stir, until it begins to thicken, and will coat the back of a spoon. This will take approximately 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. 

Whisk in the butter, one slice at a time. Wait until each piece almost disappears before adding the next. Spoon into clean glass containers and allow to cool with a piece of plastic wrap laid on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.
Refrigerate until needed. This lemon curd will keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

Best Yellow Layer Cake
Yield: Two 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers, and, in theory, 22 to 24 cupcakes, two 8-inch squares or a 9×13 single-layer cake (I have yet to audition the cupcakes, shame on me)
4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Zest from 2 lemons
4 large eggs, at room temperature

2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake tins with papers.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla and lemon zest. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just Incorporated.
Scoop batter into cupcake tins. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then take out and cool on racks for 1 hour.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
½ block cream cheese (i.e. 4 ounces)
¼ cup butter (i.e. ½ stick)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Juice from 1 lemon
Zest from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons milk, as needed

Start with your ingredients at room temperature.
Beat the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest. Beat in powdered sugar, adding milk as needed to reach a spreadable consistency.

To fill the cupcakes, use a small knife to cut a hole in the middle of the cupcake. Pop out the cone-shaped cake piece (go ahead and eat them all! I won't tell anyone!), and fill with lemon curd. 

Then frost. Enjoy!