This weekend we had a party to go to; a back garden festival for kids on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year so far.  The kids stayed cool by shedding their clothes at the door and heading straight for the paddling pool; we watched from the shade and provided periodic gasps of awe and praise for their splashy, athletic endeavours.  My contribution to the communal feast was these zingy cupcakes, which I adapted from a basic Hummingbird Bakery recipe.  With a zesty lemon kick, whipped frosting and a sprinkling of explode-on-your-tongue popping candy, they are about as light and summery as cakes can be – and no matter how hot the weather, there’s always a place for cake…

Ingredients (makes 12 cupcakes):

  • 120g plain flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tblsp grated lemon zest
  • 40g unsalted butter, softened
  • 120ml whole milk
  • 1 egg

Set the oven to 170c/325f and set to work; place your dry ingredients, zest and butter in a mixer and beat together until sandy in texture, then add in the milk, before following with the egg.  Mix for a further couple of minutes until the mixture is smooth then spoon into cupcake cases, filling them about 2/3 full. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes until they look like these (below), and in the meantime prepare your frosting…

Whizz-popping lemony frosting:

  • 250g icing sugar
  • 80g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp Sicilian lemon extract or organic lemon flavouring
  • 25ml whole milk
  • curls of lemon zest for decoration
  • jar of popping candy. Mine was from here.

Beat together the sugar, butter and lemon extract, until fully mixed, then slowly add the milk.  Turn up your mixer to a high speed and beat for around 5mins until the frosting is super-smooth and light.  When the cakes are fully cooled, pipe the frosting onto each and allow to settle for a few minutes before adding the final touches..

I made these simple cake flags using my home printer, coloured paper, cocktail sticks and double-sided tape; place one in each cake and add a couple of swirls of lemon zest (make long strokes with your zester or grater to achieve this).  Finally, add a generous sprinkle of popping candy over the top; as it comes into contact with the cake it will crackle a little (it responds to any moisture), but there’ll still be plenty of pop left for the first mouthful of cake sometime later; if you listen closely enough you can hear it fizz…

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