I’m kinda unbashingly one of those people who absolutely loves it when their birthday rolls around.
The friends who make an effort to call or text cheery birthday wishes, the birthday dinners, the birthday cakes- what isn’t there really to love about birthdays?
But lately, it seems the older I get, the more I revel in birthday celebrations. Case in point- last year, I had a simple dinner with my family and the boyfriend (mostly thanks to work but still). This year, I went to see the Lion King (love love love that show!), spent my birthday at the zoo and had dinner at my favourite restaurant.
I know, can you say spoilt and so incredibly lucky?
But a big fun-filled day or a simple dinner, one of the things I always look forward on my birthday to is making my own cake. And this year, more than ever, I knew I wanted cupcakes, bursting with bright, lemony flavours.
So cupcakes and bright, lemony flavours, I wanted. Cupcakes and bright, lemony flavours, I got.
Essentially a slightly jazzed up version of my favourite lemon cake (with lemon syrup and candied lemon slices), these cupcakes were everything I had dreamed of for my birthday cupcakes this year.
So between the Lion King, the zoo, an incredibly soul satisfying dinner and these cupcakes, turning a year was an absolute breeze. And I have a feeling dreaming of a fluffy dark chocolate cake I might be making for my next birthday might help the coming year go by a lot easier and sweeter.
Lemon and Brown Sugar Cupcakes [adapted from Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries]
Note: The recipe might seem a little finicky with four different components but it really just is a lot of combining lemon juice, sugar and water. I fiddled around with an icing, iced half the cupcakes and left the other half as they were. And I have to say, I kinda preferred the un-iced cupcakes to the iced ones, for their pure unadulterated lemon notes. (Note to self: Do not fiddle with recipes when they come from Nigel Slater. They work beautifully just as they are.)
200g unsalted butter
200g light brown sugar
90g plain flour
90g ground almonds
1/2 tsp baking powder
Zest of 1 large lemon
4 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tsp limoncello
2 tbsp light brown sugar
Juice of one large lemon
100g icing sugar, sifted
Couple drops of lemon juice
6 thin lemon slices, halved
2 tbsp light brown sugar
4 tbsp water
- To make cupcakes Preheat the oven at 175C. Line a cupcake tray with cupcake liners and set aside. Beat the butter and light brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs in, one at a time. Add the limoncello and beat until well combined. Add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and lemon zest. Fold them in until just combined.
- Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the skewer inserted into the middle of the cupcakes comes out with dry crumbs clinging and the top of cupcakes spring back when pressed lightly.
- To make syrup Combine the light brown sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush the syrup onto the cupcakes while they’re still warm.
- To make icing Combine the sifted icing sugar with just enough lemon juice to form a thick icing. Spoon a teapsoon of the icing onto each cupcake when the cupcakes have cooled completely and spread the icing evenly.
- To make topping Heat the lemon slices, light brown sugar and water in a saucepan until the mixture starts to simmer. Let the mixture simmer until almost all the sugar syrup has evaporated and the lemon slices are slightly browned and sticky. Top onto the iced cupcakes. Makes 12 cupcakes