one baker's humble attempt to change the world one cupcake at a time

Posts tagged ‘lemon’

Peach Tea Cupcakes Topped With Cream Cheese Frosting Garnished with a Mint Leaf

I’ve been desperately trying to recreate a complicated and intriguing recipe I found on Paula Deen’s website ages ago, but have been unable even to equip my kitchen with all the necessary ingredients and tools until now.

The recipe calls for overly ripened peaches, so I bought several peaches that were nowhere near ripe, and waited for them to ripen.

In the meantime, I bought a “fine sieve,” which to me, translated to a berry strainer. (From the looks of pictures online and the result of my cupcakes, I think I guessed the meaning correctly.)

Then, I bought mint as a garnish, returned home to my peaches only to find that they had become extra furry — moldy, in fact. These went in the trash right away.

I bought four very ripe peaches to replace the first lost cause, and pledged to bake the following day. After a busy day of working in a psychology lab as a research assistant and babysitting a family as, well, a babysitter, I returned home to start my cupcakes and was hard at work until close to midnight.

To add further insult to injury, one of my peaches molded over night. I was quite perturbed!

I made Earl Grey tea-infused butter relatively early in the evening so that the melted butter would have time to solidify by the time I wanted to use it. There were no pictures online of what the butter should look like once infused with tea, but mine took on a nice olive green color and looked totally unappetizing.

Looks delicious right?

Here, it looks even better

Sarcasm does not translate so well online — something to remember!

Overall, these cupcakes have the strangest texture I’ve ever seen in a cupcake. When they were done baking, they sort of looked like sponge cakes, and when I ate one sans frosting but fresh from the oven, it felt like I was eating peach tea. It was a very bizarre and enjoyable experience.

I chose to pipe on my frosting because I loved the picture on Paula Deen’s website, and wanted to replicate the look of those cupcakes.

Cupcake Recipe found and Frosting Recipe adapted from Pauladeen.com, created by Stefani Pollack of cupcakeproject.com.

Yields 18 regular cupcakes, but I decided to make 12 regular size cupcakes and 12 mini cupcakes. 24 > 18 — It’s pretty simple math.

For the tea-infused butter:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • about 1/3 cup whole leaf Early Grey tea (I used a fancy one called Royal Green, which may be responsible for the bright green hue)

Directions:

  • Melt the butter in a sauce pan on medium high until it has all just melted
  • Add tea leaves and stir for five minutes (the instructions on Paula Deen don’t say stir, but I impulsively did, so I think it’s fine either way)
  • Remove from heat and let it stand for five more minutes (I didn’t stir here)
  • Pour the mixture through a fine strainer (sieve) and press hard on the tea leaves to squeeze out all the butter. If you spill any leaves into the bowl, grab another and restrain.
  • Let it cool to room temperature and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it (If it is warmer/colder than room temperature when you want to use it, wait until it is)

Those are the messiest looking instructions I’ve ever seen. Sorry about that. The rest of the steps will be more straightforward I promise.

Cupcake Recipe:

  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • zest from one lemon
  • 1/3 cup tea-infused butter (probably all of the butter you’ll be left with after straining)
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup chopped overripe (but not moldy) peaches

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix sugar and zest and allow to sit for 30 minutes (or until you become too anxious to wait any longer)
  • Cream tea-infused butter with sugar zest mixture
  • Beat in eggs one at a time
  • Add ginger
  • Alternate adding flour and milk, a little at a time
  • Fold in peaches
  • Distribute evenly among cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes (Here, the directions say bake until cupcakes bounce back on you when lightly touched. They sort of did after 20 minutes, and were starting to brown around the edges so I took them out)

Frosting Recipe:

  • 12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • a small squeeze of lemon (about 1/5 of the lemon’s juice)

Directions:

  • Blend cream cheese and butter until fluffy
  • Add powdered sugar a bit at a time
  • Add lemon and blend once more for good measure

I adapted the frosting recipe slightly because I only had 2 tablespoons left of butter. In fact, after these cupcakes, I’ve exhausted my butter, powdered sugar, and all-purpose flour supplies! I can’t complain much though because the resulting Peach Tea Cupcakes Topped With Cream Cheese Frosting Garnished with a Mint Leaf (whew, that’s a mouthful!) were totally worth it. My dutiful taste testers have named it a favorite!

Decorating Directions (if you so desire):

  • Put the inside piece (I don’t know the correct term) of a coupler inside a disposable pastry bag
  • Fill the bag 2/3 full of frosting (you’ll refill before you’re done, but it’s much easier to handle the bag this way)
  • Cut off the tip of the bag and attach a star shaped tip (I used a number 32) with the outside piece of the coupler
  • Practice piping into your bowl of extra frosting (waste not want not) and once you’re comfortable, pipe cupcakes from the outside in.

For  a better description of how to use disposable pastry bags, check out bakeat350.blogspot.com‘s tutorial.

And while I don’t actually grow mint in my little herb garden, I thought it would still be appropriate to set up a photograph with a plant in the background — just pretend that plant isn’t cilantro!

P.S. My blog has moved! For more yummy recipes, go to www.youngidealisticbaker.com!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Vegan-y fresh (and lemony too!)

Lately I’ve been very conscious of what foods I’m buying and eating. I’ve decided to try to incorporate more organic produce and cut back my use of animal byproducts. I’m neither vegan, nor vegetarian but I am cutting out meat and trying to opt for dairy alternatives often.

I haven’t been able to fathom cutting out dairy completely, but I frequently substitute almond milk for regular, and I skipped the cheese section the last few times I bought groceries. However, I use regular milk in my coffee because I don’t like the way almond milk affects the flavor, and there is a recipe for goat cheese soufflés that I can’t wait to try. Therefore, I’m avoiding any vegan/veggie/dairy-free titles and calling myself nothing whatsoever.

But still, little by little I am trying to be conscious of what I’m eating and how it affects the planet, buying more and more organic fruits and vegetables, choosing whole wheat when applicable, drinking fair trade coffee, and buying only grain fed, cage free eggs and organic milk.

I’ve been considering vegan baking for a while now, and when I stumbled upon a lemon lime cookie with vegan friendly recipe alterations built in, I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to try it out.

Not wanting to do anything halfway, I checked the labels of all the ingredients I needed to use to ensure that they were vegan friendly. Lo and behold, my margarine wasn’t vegan at all — it was made with milk, or rather whey from milk. Luckily, I had some all-vegetable shortening that was entirely vegan and was able to proceed with the recipe. I ended up ignoring the new quantities of baking powder and baking soda listed for vegan versions of the recipe, because I didn’t have any corn starch, but from what I can tell, the cookies turned out great anyway!

The resulting cookies were both chewy and crunchy from the sugar exterior, and they had a delicious citrus flavor. This may be my favorite recipe I’ve posted on this blog yet!

Vegan Lemon Lime Sugar Cookies adapted from bakingdom.com

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Makes about 30 cookies

Sugar coating:

  • zest from one lime
  • zest from one lemon
  • 1/2 cup of sugar

      

Cookies:

  • 1 ¾ cups flour (be prepared to add up to ¼ cup more later)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup all vegetable shortening
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons almond milk
  • zest from one lemon and juice from ½ lemon
  • zest from one lime and juice from ½ lime
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  • Add zest to sugar and cream with shortening until well blended
  • Add almond milk, lemon juice, lime juice, and vanilla
  • Sift dry ingredients and add to sugar mixture a little bit at a time
  • Blend everything well. If dough feels very tacky or sticky add a little more flour

NOTE: this egg free cookie dough is both safe to eat and delicious! I highly recommend licking the spoon!

  • Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
  • In a clean bowl, mix up sugar coating from additional sugar and zest
  • Once cookie dough is chilled, use a teaspoon to help form small balls
  • Roll the balls through the sugar/zest mixture and arrange on a cookie pan lined with parchment paper

  • Bake for 12-14 minutes, removing as soon as the edges start to color

  • Transfer to a cooling rack (a brown paper bag works just as well)

   

Aside from baking this weekend, I also spent a good 5-7 hours a day reading. I’m about 2/3 of the way through The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson. It’s so good I had a hard time putting it down! The cookies made for an excellent reading snack!

P.S. My blog has moved. For more yummy recipes, check out www.youngidealisticbaker.com!

Strawberry Lemonade

The other day, my roommate asked me how I decide what to bake next. It’s a good question, and one that I can (sort of) answer. I told her that I decide based on what ingredients I have in the house, but this is only halfway true.

A lot of what I bake on a whim depends on what I have at hand — for instance, I currently have several lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits leftover from a citrus craving two weeks ago that was sparked by the discounted price of lemons at the Produce Station. However, I bought the lemons specifically to bake and cook with. The limes were purchased impulsively today because I can never get enough lime (and because I found a cookie recipe I want to try that calls for lime juice and zest!)

So to sum up, I’m going to be baking with lemons and limes (and potentially grapefruits and oranges) because I have those ingredients in my house, BUT lets not forget that I also purchased said fruits in the first place because I wanted to be able to bake with them. Catch 22?

I guess that I would say I try to be inspired by what I have at hand, but I also try to buy flavors I want to bake with in advance.

Today I took a walk to the farmer’s market, bought a quart of strawberries, and spent the rest of my shopping time and 20 minute walk home trying not to squash them — I wasn’t entirely successful.

Not wanting my new berries to wind up in the trash, I picked out all of the squished berries and deiced to muddle them and use the juice to make strawberry lemonade. I also used the remaining strawberry pulp as a quick sugar-free jam on top of a piece of toast with peanut butter. The end result was a refreshing summer afternoon treat!

To make one serving of strawberry lemonade, I smashed about six or seven strawberries with a spoon to get the juice out. That many strawberries yielded about:

this much juice

I then juiced the three lemons that I had left over from making cupcakes (I needed a lot more zest than juice for those), which yielded about half a cup of lemon juice.

The next part I would suggest you do slowly, tasting along the way. I ended up adding 3/4 cups of water (adding 1/4 cup at a time) and 2 teaspoons of sugar (1/2 a teaspoon at a time) because I wanted to maintain some of the tartness of the lemon flavor.

all the ingredients

I topped off the drink with a handful of flower shaped ice cubes. No promises, but I imagine any shape of ice cube would yield the same cooling effect — it will just be a little less summery looking.

P.S. My blog has moved! For more yummy recipes, check out www.youngidealisticbaker.com!

            

Lemon Almond Love

“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”

We’ve all heard this phrase, and probably a few variations of it as well. I’m a big fan of “When life hands you lemons, get some tequila and have a party!

Now, we all have our rough days, but it is unlikely that actual lemons will ever manifest in front of you courtesy of this guy, Life. It is more likely that the lemons in our lives will have to be purchased from a grocery store or a farmers’ market. We could also get them from a friend or prepared already in some chef’s famous pasta of course, but that isn’t very relevant to my next pressing question: What on Earth do you do when the Produce Station is selling eight lemons for a mere $2.00?

Side note: to anyone who is not familiar with Ann Arbor shopping, the Produce Station is a most glorious local market that sells fresh produce, local cheeses, and baby potted plants for great prices.

Now, naturally, you buy the eight lemons (and a bunch of peaches, berries, and a potted herb trio for good measure). Perhaps the better question is: then what? What do you do when you get home and have eight lemons taking up space in the fruit drawer? I can only squeeze so much lemon over my sautéed vegetables for dinner before I get tired of citrus stir-fry. I knew I wanted to bake something with the lemons as well, but I couldn’t decide on a recipe… so I didn’t.

After much online searching for lemon recipes, I stumbled across a challenge listed on cupcakeproject.com and scoopalicious.blogspot.com.

Who doesn’t love a good challenge?

This particular challenge called for a cupcake/ice cream recipe submission, so I thought again of my lemons and began testing out combinations (in my head only, to save money) of ice cream and lemon cupcakes. I also searched diligently for a perfect lemon cupcake recipe to adapt and alter to make my own.

I was a bit nervous at first when most of the recipes I found called for buttermilk — an ingredient that is rarely kept in my fridge, and cake flour — if it isn’t all-purpose, I don’t buy it (at least that’s the way it has always been in the past and will likely remain until it becomes ABSOLUTELY necessary to change).

I refined my search and found a recipe that called for all-purpose flour and milk. I’m not exactly sure how, but as I searched, I also began thinking about lemon/almond combinations. In the end, I did something that I’ve never done before, but that was undoubtedly a prerequisite to entering a recipe contest — I tweaked a cupcake recipe to the point that it became entirely new and unrecognizable from the first! My OWN recipe! I’ve never felt more like a baker!

The final result: Lemon Almond Cupcakes filled with Lemon Curd and Almond Ice Cream and topped with Almond Buttercream Frosting and an Almond/Sprinkles Flower Topping.

Cupcake Recipe adapted from the-cupcakery-blog’s lemon cupcakes. Makes 12 cupcakes

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • ½ tsp almond exract
  • zest and juice from two lemons
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Mix lemon zest with sugar and cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy
  3. Add eggs one at a time
  4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt
  5. Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk to the batter a little bit at a time
  6. Add lemon juice and almond extract and continue to mix for a few minutes
  7. Divide batter among cupcake pan and bake for about 20 minutes (take out the cupcakes as soon as a wooden toothpick comes out clean to avoid over cooking)

Lemon Curd Recipe from joyofbaking.com, but following the directions on finecooking.com.

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • zest and juice from 2 lemons
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
Directions:
  1. Mix zest in with sugar, and cream the butter and sugar until fluffy
  2. Add eggs one at a time
  3. then add the lemon juice.
  4. Once everything is mixed together, pour it into a pot and stir constantly over a low flame for 15 minutes (I ended up taking a break from stirring only twice: once to check my directions and make sure I wasn’t doing anything wrong, and once to step on an intruding ant)

Almond Buttercream Frosting adapted from good old Magnolia’s Bakery. Makes enough frosting for 12 cupcakes

  • 1 stick (½ cup) butter, softened
  • about 3 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
Directions:
  1. Cream butter with about half of the sugar
  2. Add milk
  3. Add remaining sugar
  4. Add flavoring and food coloring (I chose Wilton’s lemon yellow)

For my ice cream filling, I couldn’t find any recipes that I had all the ingredients for or that I really loved enough to put in a full day’s worth of work, so I made up my own TOTALLY from scratch.

  • 1 ½ cups half and half + about 3 tablespoons for later
  • ½ cup almond milk + about 2 tablespoons for later
  • about 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp almond extract
Directions:
  1. Blend all ingredients (except the extra half and half and almond milk) together on high until the air bubbles make the mixture appear to double in size
  2. Freeze for about 1-2 hours
  3. Blend on high for a few more minutes to break up ice chips
  4. Freeze overnight
  5. Defrost for about 1 hour in the refrigerator
  6. Mix in remaining liquids and refreeze for at least one hour

After trying out many combinations (I made two kinds of cupcakes and two flavors of buttercream frosting to sample) and working out how best to fill/top the cakes with the ice cream, I worked out the final version posted here. Enjoy!

Filling in the middle

And special thanks to my taste testing crew who diligently sampled all of my potential cupcake/frosting/filling combinations. They also wrote out careful notes, provided specific feedback, and most importantly, NEVER made fun of how nerdy I was acting throughout the process. You guys are the best!

All the samples

The greatest tasting crew!

P.S. My blog has moved! For more yummy recipes, check out www.youngidealisticbaker.com!