Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes


I first started making these about three years ago after having accidently bought way too many lemons. You know how it happens. You run out the week before and it messes with something you wanted to make so you go get some more. Then a week goes by and you find yourself back at the grocery store, frowing at the aisles and trying desperatly hard to remember what you're low on, going on vauge memories of empty spaces in the cupboard. Get a few things 'just in case' and BAM. You have too many lemons.   

Less practical but much more fun to use.
I'm not actually the biggest fan of cake. Oh, I'm not one of those weird people who don't like sweets in general, but cake for it's own sake...*shrug*...eh. Tasteless, dry, too sweet and in the worst cases slathered with sheets of greasy icing in eye-watering colours and of dubious origin, too often I've had to force them down while making appreciative noises.
With this and my impressive pile of lemons in mind, I decided to piece together a recipe which would shake off my depressing cake funk while making a dent in my lemon hoard.

For the cupcakes....

These are light, fluffy cupcakes that will just about double in size, so beware of filling the cases to the top or you might end up with what looks like a half melted lego when you turn it out. Been there. Not as salvageable as you might think.

125g  butter, softened
125g caster sugar
Finely grated zest 1 large lemon (more zest if you Love lemon)
2 eggs, beaten
150g self-raising flour
¼ tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4. Line a 12-hole cake tin with 12 paper cases.

Cream the butter in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer until soft. Add the sugar and grated lemon zest and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs, then sift in the flour and baking powder and fold until combined

Divide the mixture between the paper cases and bake in the preheated oven for 7-10 minutes, until risen and golden. When cooked, the centre of each cake should be slightly springy to the touch. Remove the cakes from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool.

When they're firmer, cut a neat little hole in the top with a butterknife or apple-corer and smush in a raspberry or three. Try to leave the berry on top intact. This minimizes the chance of juice oozing out and staining the icing while it's being applied.

About the icing……
This is a very lemony icing. It’s slightly sharp-not bitter-but very excellent and you can tweak it. Lavender, vanilla and especially raspberries go well with this. 

2 organic, unwaxed lemons worth of shavings
Juice of 1 ½ of those lemons
250g unsalted organic butter
250g powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract, optional

Take your butter from the fridge to soften up for ten minutes. If -like me- you’re just plain impatient and all this waiting around is going to seriously mess with your impulsive creativity feng-shui, bash it into submission with something solid (mortar and pestle, bottle of juice, your meaty fists, etc.). This should warm it up and make it more malleable. 
In a large bowl add the butter, lemon zest and juice and beat it till well blended. This helps to prevent lumps forming in the frosting.

Sift the powdered sugar a bit at a time and mix in with a beater, scraping down the sides of the bowl and smooshing any chunklets that try to escape. Try to do it in steps. A little sifting, a little stirring. Scrape, scrape. Repeat. Adding it all at once is faster, and creates epic, billowing clouds of sugar when you touch it with the beater. Ants and small children love it. 
When it’s reached the desired consistency, you’re done. Want it thicker? Add more sugar. Want it thinner? Tarter? Juice and more zest, but go easy or you'll find that you've created way more icing than you'll ever need. It freezes just fine and will keep in the fridge for a week or so.

After you've iced each cake, top each cupcake with a raspberry and a little mint leaf. Admire and devour.

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