Monday, 2 May 2011

Little lemon-topped delights!

These little bundles of lemony goodness are, to all intents and purposes, a form of cupcake.  However, unlike  muffins or cupcakes, this sponge is ultra light.  This lightness is entirely down to the type of flour I use.  I don't like to pick one brand over another, but one this occasion, I must.  There is one brand (perhaps scottish) that makes a self-raising mcflour variety that is sieved to utter perfection prior to packaging.  This means, that after the one final sieve as dictated within this recipe, you will have yourself some of the most delicious sponge cakes.

This is the recipe that I use as a foundation for all sorts of cakes; Cupcakes, fairy cakes, sponge nibbles and victoria sponge.  It is very simple and it never fails.  On this occasion I am making a lemon flavour topping, however, you can replace the lemon with pretty much anything (and get some fun colours too).  Raspberry, Orange, Blueberry and Honey are excellent too!

Ingredients (makes 12)
4oz (115g) of softened butter (do not melt it, just leave it out of the fridge for a couple of hours)
4oz (115g) of golden caster sugar
2 medium free-range eggs
4oz (115g) of premium self-raising sponge flour
few drops of vanilla exract

Icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 (180)

Place the softened butter in a large bowl and cream with the sugar until the mixture is smooth and consistent.

Whisk together the eggs and vanilla extract lightly, in a small bowl, and add a little and time to the butter / sugar mixture.  Beat well each time you add some egg, otherwise the mixture may curdle.  If the mixture does curdle, it is not the end of the world, be persistent and beat firmly until combined.  Once all the egg has been beaten into the mixture set the bowl to one side.

Weigh the flour into a small bowl.  Place a sieve over the large bowl (containing the sugar, egg and butter mixture) and sift the flour into the mixture, a little at a time.  Gently fold the flour into the mixture, do not mix or beat it otherwise you will knock all of the air out.

Once all of the flour is folded in, place the mixing bowl to one side and prepare your cake tray.  A cupcake tray has 12 dips in it, one of each cake.  You could purchase plain white cupcake cases for a traditional look, or perhaps polka dots, or flowers, it is up to you.  Place one case in each hole.

Get yourself a mug of cold water and two dessert spoons.  Places the spoons in the cold water, this will stop any mixture sticking to the spoons.  Use the spoons to distribute the mixture into the cupcake cases.  Return the spoons to the cold water between each use.  One good dessert spoon should be enough in each case.  Remember that the mixture will rise so do not fill to the top, and do not worry about spreading the mixture evenly in the cases, this will happen naturally in the oven.

Place the try in the top of the oven for 12-15mins, or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cupcake, comes out clean.  Leave in the tin for 5 minutes to cool slightly then place on a cooling wire rack, until completely cooled.

Whilst the cakes are in the oven you can make the topping.
Sift some icing sugar into a bowl and, a few drops at a time, add some of the lemon juice, until the mixture is glossy and slightly runny, like a syrup.

Once the cakes have cooled, spoon some of the icing sugar onto the top of each cake and smooth out as desired.  Leave the cakes in a cool place, until the icing is set.  You can also decorate, like I have, with ridiculous flowers and other silly items, as you see fit for the occasion!


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