Lemony Snicket

Now, I’ll admit, this is from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. I held off on buying this book for ages, because everyone has it, and also when I said I liked making cupcakes, the first question I was always asked was “ooh! Do you have the Hummingbird Bakery book???!” Other cupcake books are available. So, I kept my head down and refused to look at it. Anything that widely owned can’t be good, and I’m a great one for avoiding trends until they’ve JUST gone out of style, and then I’ll jump on that bandwagon, goddammit it. I did it with GHDs. I did it with Ugg boots. (Ssh. I threw them away, ok? I am not, and never will be, an Australian surfer, which is the only way wearing them would be ok.) In fact, the times I get swept up on the ol’ bandwagon before it left the station (c.f. Lady Gaga, tops with crazy shoulders a la Rihanna, 80s revivals etc), I get so jealous and annoyed when other people discover MY new thing too, I can’t bear it and I run away crying.

That’s enough about my neuroses. Enough time had elapsed between the HBB madness and now for me to pick it up and scrutinise it with my beady eyes. In the end, it wasn’t the recipes that swayed me, it was the 100 free beeeeautiful cupcakes cases that came with it. Actually, the week before last, I popped into Hummingbird for a red velvet cupcake. It was good. Not mind-blowing, but satisfactory. I was a bit disappointed in the limited flavours they had on offer, but the nice little box they packed my cake in won me over. Fickle, me.

Today I’m road testing their lemon cupcake with lemon icing. ‘BORING’, I hear you cry, slapping your head and gurning in irritation. ‘Where have your weird alcoholic cakes gone? Your ugly meringues? Your floral fruity frippery? You used to be cool, man!’ Well, children. I shall be cool again, but not today. (Nota bene: I read Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck cookbook. Prepare yourselves. I have some crazy plans for cakes. That WILL be cool.)

Cupcake ingredients
120g plain flour
150g caster sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest, plus extra to decorate
40g tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp
120ml whole milk
1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 170C.

2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest and butter in a bowl and beat on slow speed until you get a ‘sandy consistency’. Sand, eh? Nom nom nom. Actually, Hummingbird suggest you put it in your ‘freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment’, which we all know means…..*angelic chorus, drums beating, clapping, cheering* A KITCHENAID MIXER. Rub it in, Hummingbird. You know I don’t have one. You know I want one more than I want a cat. (i.e. REALLY BADLY.)

3. Ahem. Back to life, back to cupcakery: gradually pour in milk and beat until just combined. (HB say: ‘incorporated’, but that sounds like business jargon to me)
4. Add the egg to the flour mixture and continue beating until just “incorporated”. Continue mixing for a few minutes until the mixture is smooth. As smooth as Michael Buble.

5. Spoon mixture into paper cases until two thirds full and bake for 20-25 mins, or as HB says, until the cake ‘bounces back’. Bounces back like Wayne and Colleen post-major cheating allegations…

Ta da!!

Lemon frosting ingredients
250g icing sugar, sifted
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsps grated lemon zest
Couple of drops yellow food colouring (optional)
2 tablespoons whole milk1.Beat together the sugar, butter, lemon zest and yellow food colouring with your handheld whisk. Or Kitchenaid, yes yes yes, I heard you. Anyway, mix on a medium-high speed.

2. Turn the mixer to a slow speed and slowly pour in the milk. Ha – I just typed ‘milky’. Tired? Or is my language slowly peeling away?
3. Beat for about 5 minutes, while singing my classic whisking anthem, ‘beat it’.

4. Wait till the cupcakes are cold, then spoon lemon frosting on top and decorate with a little zest.

Gosh, what a terribly long blog for what was a terribly short recipe…

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